Some sources of books and CDs

A cautionary editorial:  why buy locally?

Students should consider the invaluable service rendered to customers by smaller local bookstores and music outlets.  Often you can save a dollar or two by shopping at a huge national chain store, locally or via the web, but there is no substitute for a local place that stocks books or CDs you can browse that are not to be found at huger places in town catering to local markets.  Mail order places feature a huge inventory, and let you "browse" to some degree, but you can't turn pages, sample the music, etc., as you can in these invaluable places.  Yet these places can survive only if we patronize them.  If we give most of our business to the huge operations, eventually publishers will publish only what these outlets are willing to distribute, and since their bottom-line is driven by volume, we should contemplate the miserable prospect of our eventually only being able to buy the latest fad in self-improvement books, piles of romances and science-fiction epics, or memorials to the next Princess Diana.   This might inspire us to invest in the survival of those outlets swimming against the current.  Since not every book or CD in the wholesale warehouses of the world can be stocked in any retail store, we should consider placing at least some of our special orders with local book and music stores.  I would like to mention two here in Manhattan, Kansas.

Ordering books via the web

There will be times when you need a book pronto.  Then you might want to consider one of the national web companies offering books and CDs.  Often books are offered here at discounts under the list price, but remember that you'll also be paying handling and shipping fees, which can often leave you with close to what you'd pay anyway.  If you want the 2nd-day-air service, of course, you pay even more.

Used, rare, hard-to-find books

Sometimes you need a book that's out of print, or you want to look for a used book because it might be less of a blow to your budget.  You'll want to get familiar with the local resources. 

There is now a goodly number of web sites directing you to sellers of used books around the country (and sometimes beyond) who have listed their holdings with the web site.  From these sites you can search for used, out of print, rare, antiquarian and hard-to-find books.  Here are some:

The web itself of course offers complete texts of many works that might be impossible or inconvenient to acquire otherwise.  There are many sites to consider these days.  I mention only a few, all of which focus on the humanities (though there are links to index pages beyond, to the sciences, etc).

Links compiled by Lyman Baker, 02 September 1999.