Buying books is a lot more complicated than it was back in the days when you went to your local bookstore to buy, browse or order what they didn’t have in stock. If, like me, you’ve been around since just after the dinosaurs took a powder, you’ll have noticed a number of differences over the years. The rock paintings and clay tablets may have been simple to read, but they were hell for authors and their royalties. Even worse has been the collapse of the independent bookstores over the past several decades. The evolutionary winners of this mass extinction have been the big box stores. Gone are many of the small shops with their quirky stock offerings that reflected each owner’s taste in reading – all supplanted by monster stores with their bland, ubiquitous, best-seller stock choices.
Next came the advent of the e-book, a medium so expansive that anyone can now publish their own book, without recourse to the tedious stream of rejection letters from agents and publishers. Publishers manage to beat off this assault on the written word, as most readers prefer to obtain books that have been vetted by someone else – like a publisher. We won’t mention that most publishers prefer to obtain books that have been vetted by agents so, if you buy a book from a publisher, you’re getting something that appealed to the tastes of an agent and a publisher.
COVID threw up a new obstacle by closing everyone down – at least those who like to find things by browsing in a shop or getting their books from the library. That left everyone bereft of new books unless they read e-books or were willing to pay postage and forage through the on-line vendors. E-books are simple to obtain but require some kind of reader like Kindle, Kobo, i-pad or equivalent.
Books you touch and feel are like many other commodities, having sites that can bring a title to you without recourse to leaving your home – an attractive proposition for readers who don’t like e-books and feel a little anxious at the thought of going into a store while we’re still in the middle of a pandemic.
The question for these readers is where to look? Of course most people know Amazon, but there are other sites that are worth noting. One of my perennial favorites is a site that originally developed in Victoria, Canada. It was bought out by Amazon a few years ago – no doubt making a fortune for the originators. Even so, it’s still run as a subsidiary and is a site that is worth a visit. You’ll find it at:
On the plus side, ABE books has offerings from the independent bookstores that somehow survived the great extinction. Their stores are found anywhere in the world. If you’re seeking something it can often be found here. The downside is that you need to pay postage to get the item sent directly to you – expensive if you aren’t in the same country as the seller. Even so, the search engine on ABEbooks is really good.
Another site like ABE is Alibris. This too is a conglomeration of independent bookstores that use it as a vehicle to list their wares on-line. It’s found at:
There are many such programs but if you’re thinking that some clever computer geek must have designed a program that gave you access to all the different on-line sources, you’d be right. This program is called Addall and it has a ‘new’ and ‘used’ section. Each section searches everybody’s database and gives you a title beginning with the least expensive. It’s found at: https://www.addall.com/
COVID woes? No sweat! There’s lots of time to browse on-line and keep reading!