Thursday, May 27, 2010

Getting Your Hands on the Good Stuff

Tonight you lucky viewers are getting a tutorial in obtaining the maximum possible number of books for the minimum possible sum.  I consider myself an expert in this field as I have been practicing since.... well at least since fifth grade.  I'm not sure how much earlier I became an active book procurer, shifting out of the passive reader mode.  Anyway, here's the lowdown.

There are two basic sub areas involved in this endeavor - buying and borrowing.  I'll discuss buying first, since it's less exciting to me (and I'm not really an expert in buying books at all - far from it).  So as everyone knows, used books are much cheaper than new books.  Used books stores are tons of fun, and they used to be the place, but it's been a LONG time since online has become the place to shop.   When I first read I Want To Go Home, I was desperate for my own copy. I called Barnes and Noble, they said they had a copy, then they said they didn't, so then I went on Amazon, where it said it would need 6 weeks to get a copy for like $70 or something.  So I gave up, and ended up getting a copy missing about 30 pages from my extraordinarily generous cousins, the Sp.  That was in fifth grade, but by the time I ruined Peryl's copy of Pride and Prejudice by leaving it open and upside down, I was able to find her a new copy on - even though it was a one time publication from the Book of Month Club - with no ISBN! and now I have a gorgeous copy of P&P with tons of illustrations and a broken spine :) And when I decided to read Charlotte Lennox's the Female Quixote, and the library had no copy (this must have been before I became such a multi-card holder), I went on ebay and bought a copy for $.99 - totally worth it, even if I haven't read it since that first time in 10th grade (it's a good book though, I should reread it).

Of course, online book sellers come with a MAJOR caveat - witness this post.  *Shipping* I mean that book cost 99 cents, but I'm sure the shipping was a good $3.00.  And I spent $15 on 11 books - and another *$25* to get them here... I mean I'm pretty sure the sellers are making money of the shipping, but whatever, it still ends up being pretty cheap :)

But cheap is not free, and that brings us to my preferred method to obtaining reading material: borrowing! Borrowing from friends is nice, if you can find someone to lend it - you get what is often a nice copy for a potentially unlimited lending period. But of course, then you have to be careful with it (well the truth is, you always should be careful with books) and it's not easy to find someone all the time.  And besides, if you want a brand new book, you always have to wait on line.  So of course, the gold standard in free book borrowing is the public library system, that wonderful institution, that bastion of civilization, that paradisaical locale.

Here, too, the internet has been a great enabler.  When I first starting borrowing books - and don't even ask me how old I was - I don't even think the catalog *was* online... and some point, I discovered you could renew books online, and either earlier, later, or simultaneously, I started searching the catalog to find the books I wanted.  Of course, if your branch doesn't have a book, you can either reserve it, or even easier, just call and request it and they'll send it over.   That's for amatuers... slightly more sophisticated users know that you can actually reserve books when they are on order - these days, popular books can be reserved months in advance and obtained on the *day of publication* itself - today I picked up Lee Child's 61 Hours, which was ready for me yesterday... publication date? May 18.  And that's not even fast.  I've gotten Lauren Willig books the day they come out, Jasper Fforde, The Spellman Files... the only problem there is that it's not always predictable which books the library gets immediately - I have had to wait for a month! before a newly published book is available - and to a professional like me, that ranks as *unacceptable*

So how to solve? If I'm really desperate for a book I make sure to reserve it in *more than one library*.  And that's not more than one branch, it's another system.  I am the proud owner of 7 - and yes that's SEVEN - library cards.  Baltimore County is my library, Pratt is the Batimore city system that everyone uses in parallel, Prince George's County is where I went to school (at Maryland), Howard County is where I work (Columbia), Lackawanna County is for CL, and the other two are just for fun - DC, where I obtained a copy of New Moon when there was not *one single copy* available in the *entire* Maryland, and Frederick County, where they had a copy of the Reluctant Heiress *before* it came out - from it's original publication as Magic Flutes.  And I am using these stars because *I feel this is very important*.  If you make sure to hedge your bets, one or another place will get you what you need - lately, I've noticed that Howard County has been much better at on time releases than bcpl - I'm thinking of shifting... but I'm a little lazy to - for my VIBs, I'll need to though

A few more little tricks - renewing, obviously - bcpl now lets 2 renewals, for a total time out of 9 weeks :) if you have to return something, you can try to get them to let you take it out again right away... but I was unsuccessful with that the last few times I tried... The other thing you can do, which I just did, is get a book out from another library - I have return Shannon Hale's Book of a Thousand Days next Friday, and I don't know if I'll have a chance to read it before then (I've got *a lot* on my list) - so I just picked it up from Pikesville today (original copy is from pratt) - now I just need to make sure to return the right copy :)

Oh, here's another one - ebooks! so you don't even have to leave the house - the library's selection is pretty limited, by I have access to 4 different OverDrive systems, which I have made occasional use of - definitely worth it when you want a quick and easy read :)

And for the real troopers... Jude Morgan wrote a new Regency, A Little Folly, which unfortunately has only been published as of yet in England.  I can buy a copy for $16, possibly - I only found that in some weird site, and on Amazon it's even more... but guess what? it's in the London library... and in the Brisbane, Queensland, AUS library as well.  So all I have to do is fly to Australia, somehow get a library card, and I've got everything I need! And of course, I'm going to Australia this summer... maybe :)

Hope you found this helpful - I doubt anyone made it this far into my treatise... but I'm always open for suggestions, questions, comments - and I LOVE helping other people get books

Happy book hunting!

Awesome P.S. to the Jude Morgan - I'm not really planning to buy the book even for $16 -  I don't think it's that good - but I wanted to find the website again to verify its legitimacy.... but I don't remember how I found it the first time - it wasn't by a standard search, I was looking for something specific.  When I went searching I found two things : 1) This blog shows up on PAGE 3 of the entries when the terms of A Little Folly Jude Morgan!!! so I am making my mark on the Internet :) 2) I couldn't find the website I saw originally, I remembered it had free shipping and there was nothing like that - there was one that offered one for $13 + $7 shipping (because it ships from the UK) - but not the original site.  so then  I tried to remember what I was searching for - for some reason, I thought it might have been the genre - though I've changed my mind, I don't think it was that after all -  I think I"m confusing it with a genre search I did for an AMS book. But anyway, the second or third result was for risky regency, which is the blog I've seen before, so I clicked on it - I'm easily distracted :) and ... it was a post about the books she wanted for the holiday season (i do feel more comfortable referring to it that way :)) and she mentioned that she got a lot of books from and that sounded familiar so I clicked on it and.... THAT WAS THE SITE! how beyond weird and cool is that - and it's not like the post was even about A Little Folly, she mentioned she got some book on Napoleon there... so I think a worth mentioning coincidence, no? :)

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