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Question about purchasing books online

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Question about purchasing books online

Old 03-09-07, 12:50 AM
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Question about purchasing books online

I haven't been doing a lot of reading until recently, and have been spending a lot of time browsing around Amazon's sellers, Half.com, and Ebay for bargains. Sometimes I see books described as a book-club edition (or BCE), and sometimes there's a hint or two from the item description that the book MAY be a book-club book (e.g. no retail price, different number of pages).... I guess ultimately it doesn't matter what shape or form the book is in as long as it's the same story.

However, what I'm curious to know is do sellers ALWAYS (or almost always) indicate that a particular book is a club edition when it indeed is one? Or are there plenty of sellers who just simply hide that fact, thinking that more people would be willing to purchase it if they didn't know. I just want to know what I'm buying. I see a lot of cheap books on Amazon, Half, Ebay, but I'm wondering if these are mainly BCEs that are not advertised as such. I also found a really cheap online used-book store today at thriftbooks.com Anyone had experiences (good or bad) with them?
Old 03-09-07, 02:30 AM
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If you're looking for non-BCE editions of books, I would be wary of using things like Half.com and the Amazon marketplace where the sellers don't generally give any details about the books.

I've been sent a couple of BCE editions of books from sellers on Half.com when they weren't indicated as being as such.

If you're looking for a specific edition of a book, I would tend to go with eBay or ABE. With eBay, you can usually get a photo of the actual book to better determine the condition and edition. And with ABE you're mainly dealing with professional booksellers who know how to properly grade and determine condition. With eBay and Amazon Marketplace, you have people listing books by predetermined titles/ISBNSs which may or may not be indicative of which edition of a book they're actually offering.
Old 03-09-07, 09:47 AM
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There are definitely dishonest (or simply ignorant) sellers out there who will try to pass off BCEs as the regular trade editions. Since I'm only interested in first editions, for the most part, I don't buy it unless it's specifically stated as such.
Old 03-09-07, 10:43 AM
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I've bought a lot off of Half, Amazon Marketplace, Abe, Alibris, Etc. I tend to stick with sellers that list a real description of the book & its condition and tend to have good luck. A few times I've ended up with a BCE, but when pointed out to the seller they've either offered to take it back or a partial refund.

A lot of the less experienced sellers don't know that there is a difference between a BCE & a regular release (even though the lower quality of most BCE's is obvious).

If you have a question/concern about a specific book ask the seller by email, most will answer in a timely manner.
Old 03-09-07, 12:31 PM
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I'd be very careful on half.com. I have run into several liars and a few outright thieves. My latest problem is with a pack of thieves calling themselves "a1valuebooks". They admit they never shipped the book I ordered but refuse to give a refund. Thieving assholes.
In addition to outright theft, condition is often not as described and yes, you can get "book club editions" even though it is specifically against half.com policy to list or sell them.


Some types of material differences include but are not limited to the following and cannot be listed on Half.com:

international editions

softcover books listed under hardcover ISBNs/editions

pdf files

scanned textbooks

test banks

solutions manuals with no ISBN

older editions listed under newer ISBN/UPC

book club editions

uncorrected proofs

advanced reading copies of books

screener copies of movies

out of print books without an ISBN

braille books

promotional music cd's

cassette, LP 8-track music formats

music club cd's such a BMG or Columbia House
Weird eh? Personally, I have nothing against BCE books (or anything else on this list) as long as they are properly identified. Unfortunately, they often are not.
Old 03-09-07, 12:37 PM
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I've been burned many, many times, even on abe.com. Some send out BCEs as first editions, sure, but the biggest problem is the definition of Fine or As New. Oh man. I love tight spines, white pages, etc. But some sellers think dirty, torn covers and pages would indicate Fine condition. Argh!
Old 03-19-07, 10:25 PM
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Well, since I originally posed the question, I just wanted to give an update of a couple of book-buying experiences.

I purchased 2 "new" books from ebay and received them over the weekend. One was indeed "new", with reasonable wear on the dust-jacket (as you would expect if the book had been shuffled around the clearance section for a few years). Pages were straight, spine was tight, and overall presentable. However, the other "new" book from another seller had stickers all over it from a goodwill store. There were stains over the cover and inside pages, and it was a BCE as well. What kind of idiot grades that as "new"??

I also decided to try out thriftbooks.com. I initially saw their listings on amazon, and discovered that they sold mostly used books for very cheap. However, they let you choose whether you want to purchase a title in "used" or "new" condition, with "new" (if available) costing a little more. I played it safe and tried to get 3 "new" books only for about $12 shipped total. Well, I'm definitely unimpressed and will not be buying from them again. Two of the books were in ok condition... a lot of shelf wear with loose spines, brown pages, and tears in the dust-jacket. The third was just outrageous.... it was an ex-library copy with marks, stamps, stickers from the county library, and it was heavily read. What the hell?? I could've bought that from a library sale for a buck or something. It definitely wasn't "new". I've emailed them about my dissatisfaction. I really don't care if they bother to reply or not, since it is unlikely that I'll buy from them again.

My best choice for bargains now: going through the Borders or Barnes and Noble bargains section. The selection isn't as broad, but at least I know what I'm getting. And BN takes coupons on top of their discounted prices too, so that's a bonus.
Old 03-20-07, 05:21 AM
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I have good luck with Bookcloseouts, every book I have gotten from them was in good shape and their prices aren't that bad.
Old 03-21-07, 09:31 AM
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Just got a book from an abe.com seller who claimed the book (The Wheelman) had a tight spine and was pretty much prestine. After a few emails, I learned that the seller basically considered it gift worthy...a collectibly copy.

It wasn't.

It wasn't terrible, but not up to my standards, that's for certain. I think I'm going to have to start sorting abe searches from highest cost to lowest to ensure I get what I really want. Either that, or stop caring about scratch-free dust jackets and tight spines.
Old 03-21-07, 03:33 PM
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I never knew half.com didn't allow book club editions. We have sold several books that I'm pretty sure were BCE, and didn't hear anything back from the buyer. We almost always list by ISBN too, so if it comes up by that, I don't see what the deal is.

Edit: I mean, I understand if someone is a collector, but I don't see how half.com can allow the ISBN to be used for the same thing if there are book club editions.

Last edited by milo bloom; 03-21-07 at 03:36 PM.
Old 04-02-07, 05:57 PM
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I've learned, even on Abe, to ask if a book is HB or PB, ex-library or not, large print or not, etc. I've been burned when I didn't ask.

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