Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tips for Borrowing and Buying Books


In one of my recent posts 'Reading Illegally' I talked about the negative aspects of downloading/sharing books. I decided that while the post was probably quite helpful in portraying my thoughts on illegal downloads of books and other materials and saying that there are infact "other ways" to get you literature on the cheap, I don't think I elaborated enough on the second part. I have already done a post in the past about finding free/cheap books 'Actually Having Books To Read' , but thought I could do another one and talk about the stuff I missed.

See, I've noticed that some things while helpful to some people, are no good to others. It might be great that there are all of these free or inexpensive ways for readers to get a hold of the books they want without using illegal share sites, but these "ways" won't be of any use if you don't have the know-how you need to find what you want and get it at the price you are willing to pay. So, rather than writing about where you can get your free-or-cheap-yet-legal-books (which I still will write about a little bit), I thought I would write more about this what you need to know inorder to have "know-how".

The Library is a great tool for people that don't have the shelf-space or money to buy books. I don't tend to use my local library that much, because I've always preffered to purchase my books and I have so many unread books on my shelf, And many of the books I would like to read are ones that I would like to own. I do know many people that don't fancy owning that many books (that don't neccesarily have the space for them all) and they quite often use the library to get their reading fix.

Some Libraries (like my local one) have a Library website where users can log in, search for books they want to read and reserve copies. This is a helpful tool when you want to borrow books that are quite popular. This is also a handy tool if you don't have much time to spend in the actual library; you can reserve the books you want to worry and pick them up in your lunch-hour. The Librarian is the one who spends the time finding and gathering the requested books, while all you have to do is go to the counter to collect them.

I know there are a few people out there that have a bit of an issue trying to find their way around the library. There should be signs depicting "Children's Fiction", "Teenage Fiction", "Children's Non-Fiction", "Non-Fiction" and "Adult Fiction". I'm not going to explain the way that non-fiction books are organised. The fiction is organised alphabetically by author. Some of the books might be categorised into smaller groups such as "Mills and Boon", "Westerns" and "Classics", but not all libraries do this. Some libraries also put genre stickers on the books, so that people who just want to browse can easily identify which books they might be interested in. My local library uses stickers with symbols on them. E.g. A heart sticker means romance and a castle means historical fiction.

Also, if you go to your library often, take note of the displays. Sometimes they will put posters or pamphlets out to advertise a library event that's coming up. Something like 'Book Lover's Week' or an author's book signing. Some of these events involve a chance to win a prize or get something free, even if it is a dodgy bookmark that was photocopied and laminated by the latest work experience kid.

Again, something I don't do. I'm very pedantic about the state of my books and don't like to worry about what may or may not happen to them, when they are in the hands of someone else. I don't like to unload this sort of craziness onto the poor person I lent the books to. Also, this works both ways. When I borrow something from someone I'm constantly worrying that something will happen to them while in my possession and I will get the blame (because, it was, you know, probably my fault). As long as the borrowing has a time limit and books are returned unscathed I see no problem with people borrowing books from each other.

For those who don't know there is this new, technological way of "borrowing from a friend" via kindle. Any one who has a kindle or uses a kindle app on another device can borrow or lend Kindle books. Here's How

One of the things people don't realise about 2nd hand book shopping is that it's quite similar to borrowing from a library. Often times books pass through the hands of many strangers. People buy old used books for cheap and then trade them for newer ones (at a book depository) or they donate it to a charity shop. The buy/swap/sell sites on facebook have become a great place for people to sell or exchange unwanted items (like books) and some online stores offer credits to use at their store in exchange for an unwanted novel.

Used books can also be bought online. Stores like Ebay, Fishpond and Amazon all sell 2nd hand books...

If second hand books are your thing you should definitely look out for garage sales or ex-library sales taking place in your area. The books aren't always in great shape, but if you are only planning on reading them once and then passing them on to someone else it shouldn't matter. Another great place to look out for books is the Markets. There is a stall at our local markets that sells 2nd hand books to people and lets you trade in an old one (or one that you bought from him) for another book. I'm not sure if it works like a book depository or if trading books only gets you a discount though...

While bookstores are lovely places to go they are often really overpriced. Bookstores are great when they've got a big sale happening or when they've got an in-store event. They are also a great place to buy cute bookmarks. Most Department stores or discount stores have quite reasonable book sections, but still, I prefer to wait for a sale if I think the prices are too high. One tip to use in a department store, is to take the books over to the customer "Price Check" price scanner. I don't know how many times I've been to a store where the price marked on the shelf and/or the item is incorrect, so now whenever I go to a store with a self-serve price checker I check everything.

Bookstores are pretty easy to navigate. Books are often placed in their category in alphabetical order. Department Stores and Discount Stores do tend to be less organised. It's unlikely that anything will be alphabetised, but books should be placed with their own kind; Non-fiction with non-fiction, teen-fiction with teen-fiction.

The biggest issue that a lot of people have with purchasing online is how they are going to pay for it. You don't need a credit card to buy stuff online. You can use a Paypal account, a prepaid visa or a Visa bankcard. I use Paypal, but it can't be used on specific sites (like amazon). Prepaid Visa cards can be purchased from real-life stores (like the post-office) and money can be put on them in store. I'm not going to educate people on every aspect of online payment, but I just want to let you know that a) you don't need a credit card to buy stuff online and b) Paying for stuff online isn't the big headache that people make it out to be.

Another issue I think people have with online shopping is knowing whether or not to trust the site. Things to look out for:
1. Is it a well-known store or site.
-If it's something like Amazon or Target it should be legit.
2. The address bar.
If the URL has https in it, it should be okay. Mind you, the s normally only shows when you "Go to Checkout"
3. The layout of the site.
If it looks dodgy, it probably is.

Unless I'm just browsing I almost never click on all the little categories and headings on a site to find what I want. I always use the search engine and use it carefully. The key with search engines and filters is to specify your search, but be careful not to filter your search too much (because, some items aren't always tagged with the correct filters) and not to put too much trust into the filter doing it's job. "Price lowest to highest " for example, sometimes leaves the page with prices in no particular order of any kind.

If you are particular about which cover you get or which size novel you get (say if this one is a part of a series and you want them all to line up nicely on the shelf) be sure to read the details of the items. Most sites are really good in this respect and have all kinds of details about the item. If you are buying a DVD be sure to check that the region matches the region of your DVD player.

Online shops are a great place to source Bind-ups or Box-sets. I find that I can often (not always) purchase a Box-set or Bind-up cheaper per novel, than what I would if I were to buy them individually. For example. I bought a box-set of the 'Wicked Lovely' series by Melissa Marr for $25 and it had five books in it. I bought the first volume of 'Soul screamers' by Rachel Vincent, which had the first three novels in it, for eleven dollars. And, I purchased the first volume of Buffy which has three novels in it, for seven dollars. Do the math :) You can sometimes pick up box-sets from department stores for a good price as well.

Check the shipping policy. Some sites have free shipping, whilst others have a "No shipping after $100" policy and if you're buying overseas shipping is probably unavoidable and quite expensive.

I own a kindle, but just because I own a kindle doesn't mean I'm limited to the kindle store. If you are buying an E-book from a different website, be sure to check that it is compatible with your ereader. Also, when you are purchasing ebooks, don't be afraid to shop-around. Some bookshops (like 'Angus and Robertson') and other download sites (like 'Google Play' or 'Kobo') also sell ebooks. You might be able to find one cheaper on another site.

There are Facebook groups and Shelfari/Goodreads groups dedicated to cheap/free ebooks. If you subscribe or join you may be able to discover some new titles at a decent price. 'Book a day' for example is a page where people promote cheap ebooks that they've read and want to let other people know about. The page only allows books that cost less than $2.99 and have a three stars or higher rating.

I hope some of the information in this post has proven to be helpful. It feels like I have repeated myself a little bit from this post: 'Actually Having Books To Read', but I think that this time I've included a few more tips and hopefully written the post in a less-rambly, more understandable manner. I really want to help people find their way to enjoyable books through my blog, but hopefully also point people in the direction of a good price.

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