Second-hand books from Amazon


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I would be interested to hear if anyone has tried buying second hand books through Amazon and how they found the experience.

I am probably a bit late in asking as I have gone ahead and ordered a couple of books that I read as a young man (yes I know - long time!). Both books left an impression on my youthful thinking and I am keen to see what I think of them now. Both are out of print. They are:

Covenant With Death by John Harris About a Pals Bn in WW1


HMS Leviathan by John Winton, About a new Commander (2IC) joining an Aircraft carrier and trying to get the ship functioning and working together. Although I am not of a nautical bent (or even bent), the story about trying to bring together the different branches and departments for the good of the ship and not their individual disciplines, especially trying to get the air wing to appreciate that they were actually in the RN and not RN being just a part of the air wing :)

Anyhoo, I will let you know the condition of the books and if I find I f2f a good way to get out of print books.
I have done so a couple of times - great for books that you know you will only read once in any case. It was obvious that the books had been "pre-owned" - but were probably in better condition that a book from the public library for instance.

If these books have special worth for you for whatever reason, then buy new. Otherwise: no probs with pre-owned books
I have bought quite alot of second hand books from Amazon and have found that their condition has always been accurately described. If anything the vendor understated the condition.
I regularly buy second hand books on Amazon which come from several countries (the UK, Ireland and the US). Sometimes they can be cheap other times pricey, depending on title and current availability/interest. Never been disappointed with the condition, just choose carefully according to online description.

I did look for a dvd last night but the cheapest was £50 for a used one .... I don't suppose anyone has Another Time, Another Place by Michael Radford they want to sell cheaply?


I've bought a couple. No problems with condition, as rockpile says I think they edged on the side of caution when describing.
again here, ordered many 2nd handers from Amazon. No problems whatsoever and the condition always pretty much as described.
Same again all good
Ditto what most have said here. Ive bought a few "rough guide" type books from Amazon and they were in excellent nick. Probably no worse than if you'd thumbed through them a few times yourself
Bought literally hundreds of second hand books from Amazon. I've only had one negative experience where the book didn't turn up. I usually go for sellers who sell thousands of books on a weekly basis and have good feedback. I've found the site much cheaper than ebay and with a much greater variation of books to choose from.

All good.
I've bought s/h books from Amazon and also via ebay - never any problems. It's a lot easier than rummaging through s/h book shops, although I like doing that sometimes too.
Hello Auld-yin.

Used them throughout Young Rat's sojourn at Uni. Ideal for the brute's reading list which normally would have required the income of a developing nation to fund. Never failed.
Oh yes, " Covenant with Death " has been on my bookshelves for years.

Old Rat
AbeBooks Official Site – New & Used Books, Textbooks & Rare Books is another good site for secondhand and out of print books. I have used it quite a lot, Amazon not so much. I have found both to be reliable and will continue to use them both in the future.
I'll second that - I bought a couple of first editions from them and they were eaxactly as described, and for a good price.

I've also bought second-hand from Amazon and have no complaints. As previous posters have commented, they were exactly as described, if not a little better than described.
I've used them a lot- quite happy with them. Only mistake once was that I thought I'd give a new private seller (no rating) a leg-up in favour of other rated sellers with the same title. Had to chase him up twice and then he came back with "Sorry, no longer have it".

I've also sold a few (about 40) of my books on Amazon so I see it from the non-business sellers point of view too.

It's good for me because I know that my book will go to someone who is searching for it and wants to read it-
Had some interesting (names I've recognised) buyers, and also feedback like "I bought it for my dad who was in that incident" for example, which is rewarding in itself.

I too, tend to understate the condition, it's not worth quibbling over someone's idea of good/very good compared with another persons. It's only worth putting on books that are not that common- if there's 10 copies for example of a book on sale, there's no point in me listing it.
You have to be in it for the long haul though, it's obviously different for the large scale sellers but for private ones, months can go by without a sale.
The financial reward is not great but at least it's something, the postage charge the buyer pays doesn't cover costs unless you are dealer selling thousands - I often send first class and recorded delivery mainly because if someone's finally tracked down a book that they've been searching for ages, simply giving them a refund is not going to be much of a solace to them if it goes missing in the post.

I try not to undercut other sellers but I usually want to get rid of it quickly at a fair price, people are usually happier to pay 50p or so more than the lowest if you have a good rating and feedback - unless of course it's selling at a ridiculous high price-as some do-in which case I happily well under cut the others
However I don't want to sell a book that cheaply, that it would be snapped up by a re-seller.

It's interesting to see that some of the business sellers have programs which will scan their listings and bring down their prices to undercut by a penny the lowest offer. I believe that when two dealers get into that 'deadly embrace' the price will continue to drop which may explain why there are so many 1 penny books on sale.
I've bought used books quite a few times through Amazon, never had a problem.
You do have to check the cost of shipping though, as it can sometimes be eyewatering from the USA to Europe.
I got an entire Dennis Wheatley collection on Amazon, some 200 second hand books. Pretty much as said on the tin and no problems at all, again as FJ states, go for a reputable seller with a lot of sales and you shouldn't really go all that far wrong.

Seller also stated that the books contained opinions that some might find offensive! TBH, DW's opinions were so overboard and extreme as to be absolutely laughable.


Book Reviewer
As with FSJ, I've bought many second-hand (and new, of course) books on Amazon, and the only bad experience was when one did not turn up - a fact I didn't even notice until I got the e-mail asking me to rate the seller. They refunded my money forthwith, and revealed that they'd had a lot of problems with the PO parcels system, and would be switching to DHL as they were more reliable.
Abe Books is even better, if you are looking for specific titles, IMHO. They tend to be a group of 'real' booksellers, rather than chaps in houses, and you may pay a few more pence, but worth it.

Another useful thing that I've found it 'print on demand'. I was looking for an old history book, not published since 1892, and there were indeed one or two on Abe Books for several hundred pounds each. There was also the chance to buy it 'new' as a print-on-demand. I did this, and my own copy arrived a week later. It's a facsimile of the original, softbound, having been scanned as .pdf, and is of an extermely good quality. There are a lot of really old books available in this way (the British Library are leading on this), and it's well worth a look.
Ditto with the books, no problem. Also bought dozens of DVD's 2nd hand and again never a problem, good site.
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