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Book sourcing tips
Topic Started: Aug 13 2007, 06:48 AM (3,807 Views)
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(I think this is the best forum for this post, but feel free to move it if there's a better place)

Books relating to worship dance, messianic Judaism, Jewish roots, etc are often hard to find. They don't sell in their millions and rarely attract the attention of the major publishers. Some (especially on dance) are out of print and only available on the second-hand market.

Consequently, it can be a bit difficult to locate books. I've been collecting books for many years, and here's a summary of what I've learnt:

The growth of the internet has revolutionised bookselling. It's sadly had a negative effect on local bookshops (so do support yours), but has transformed the used book industry as everyone now has access to a global marketplace.

The various Amazon websites (particularly Amazon.com, and Amazon.co.uk) are always a good starting point and have a vast range of product, including many obscure items. They have a feature called the Marketplace where independent vendors can list stuff on their sites. This is fully integrated and when you view an item you'll see something like "10 used and new available from $5", you click on the link and you get a list of people offering the item. Most will be new and offered at a lower price than Amazon itself. You order through Amazon but your order is shipped by the vendor.

To make best use of Amazon (lowest prices and widest range), you need to be aware of some finer points:

  • Each site is targeted at its home country (Amazon.com for the USA, etc) and items are priced in the local currency. This doesn't really matter - if you're an international customer yout credit card company will convert the currency for you at a good exchange rate. However, shipping costs are also geared towards the home country and international shipping is dearer. But it can sometimes work out cheaper to buy from a foreign Amazon site.
  • The contents of each site are slightly different if you can't find a book on one, try looking on another.
  • You must take shipping costs into account - again, this varies by site and destination, and is also calculated differently for Marketplace and Amazon sales. You can get free shipping on domestic Amazon sales over a certain amount (currently USD 25/GBP 15), but Marketplace sales have a set shipping charge per item which sometimes can tip the balance in favour of Amazon, especially if you need a few books.
  • Marketplace vendors may be based overseas. For example, there are lots of USA sellers on Amazon.co.uk. If you are in the UK, you only pay domestic shipping (as it's the UK site) even though the item is sent from overseas. But if you buy the same item on Amazon.com, from the same seller, you pay international shipping which is dearer. The price of the item may be similar, or it may be different.
  • Marketplace vendors are only required to ship international orders by surface mail, but many offer a free upgrade to air mail. Most of the USA vendors selling on Amazon.co.uk send everything by air mail. However, not all the USA vendors selling on Amazon.com do so. Check it out first as the difference in shipping time is significant.
  • Marketplace vendors who don't offer international shipping may change this if you ask them nicely.
There are other internet booksellers such as Powells and Barnes and Noble. Occasionally you will find that they have items that Amazon doesn't, but generally their ranges are smaller.

A couple of useful sites are www.addall.com and www.isbn.nu - both will search many different booksellers (new and used) for a book.

Amazon and the other big names aren't always good for second-hand or out-of-print books. For these, there are two database websites into which thousands of individual booksellers upload their catalogues. Have a look at ABE Books and Alibris. I personally prefer ABE books, who seem to have a larger range and better prices. They also have a UK-centric site here. Your order is shipped directly from the vendor.

All the above stockists carry a large range of Christian books. But if you'd rather go to a specifically Christian company, try Christian Book Distributors (large US company, international shipping is a bit pricey but their books are cheap!). In the UK, there is Eden, who seem quite good.

Lederer is the main publisher of messianic books - they do have a webstore but it's often cheaper or easier to get their books via Amazon.

One point to note when searching for books on the various websites is that they are not error-free. In particular you get occasional spelling mistakes in titles and authors. If you are having trouble finding something, try reducing the number of words you are searching for, or just put the title or author rather than both. Using the ISBN number (if there is one and you know it) can be useful, but isn't a guarantee of success.

Practical stuff when buying from overseas:

  • Don't be afraid - my experiences have been overwhelmingly positive.
  • Air mail typically takes a week to get anywhere. Surface mail can take two months.
  • Getting things sent by insured mail is normally not worth the extra cost (which can be considerable) - it's not standard practice and losses are extremely rare.
  • Pay by credit card, not debit card - you get more protection and can normally get your money back in the event of a problem (I've never had to do this).
  • There are no import duties or taxes on books coming into the UK from overseas. It may be different for the USA, but I think there's an international convention that treats them as exempt.
I think that's everything, but feel free to ask me any questions, and share your experiences.
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Resident Rebbi

I can add a hearty "amen" to Dave's post. The only companies that I've not personally done business with there are those in the UK. I know the others and trust them. They in turn trust their used book sellers because if they mess up, they are off the trusted list. Kind of a one strike and you're out system.

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If anyone knows where I could get any reasonably priced literature on the Jewish faith, I'd appreciate hearing about it.. I'm in New Zealand, and trying to find anything here of any quality on some things is.. woefully hard, this is one faith I'm quite interested in learning about, so I'd like something informative, but hopefully also at a reasonable price as my income is.. a little tight these days now I'm retired due to health issues..
Love many, trust few, paddle your own waka.
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"more is more"

Judaisim for Dummies might be a good place to start.

You can get a used copy on Amazon for under $2.

Check out a large excerpt from the book here:

Dean should be by to give you a couple more ideas. :)

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That would be a good start for me, especially given my.. limited knowledge at present, thanks I'll have a better look at it once I've had coffee and breakfast...
Love many, trust few, paddle your own waka.
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