Monday, November 17, 2014

Old Bestsellers: Availability

One of this blog's readers asked a little while back about how to get copies of the books I write about here. And to be sure, that's not always easy. But it's easier than you might think, or easier than it was 20 years ago.

Most of the books I've written about I've found almost by chance: at antique stores, at used book shops, at book sales such as the one held each year here in St. Louis at West County Mall, the Greater St. Louis Charity Book Fair. (In this area there are a few more such annual sales: the Jewish Community Center holds one, as does the YMCA.) I like finding books that way ... I like the randomness, the feeling of discovery, and so on. But that's really not a good way to find a book you really WANT. (Or to find a book you are interested in because someone like me reviewed it!)

Some of the books are well-known enough to still be in print. But the very point of the blog is to mention books that aren't that well known. However, these days you can still often find even the most obscure book. One way is of course used book stores online, especially using an aggregator site such as Abebooks. Also, a lot of these books are available in Print on Demand format. Often these can be found at Amazon. I confess I dislike most of those editions ... they tend to be rather ugly. But they do usually have all the words in the right order ...

And finally, some are available in ebook format. Some of these are for sale at Amazon or other places as well ... but others are available free, from places like Project Gutenberg (www.gutenberg.org), which puts books online using volunteer labor. All their books are (or are supposed to be) out of copyright, so typical from before 1923. Another source of ebooks, usually not free, is Forgotten Books (www.forgottenbooks.com). These books don't tend to be formatted as nicely as a commercial ebook, but they are still readable, and cheap or free.


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