Here are some tips from an old pro book hunter in finding out-of-print books.

If You Don't Want To Buy It, Just Read It...

Go to your public library, for starters. They may not own the book, but that's o.k. -- they should be able to get it for you on interlibrary loan. You'll even be able to make a copy of the entire book (assuming it's not War and Peacce) or the pertinent sections. Nowadays, thanks to online catalogs, librarians can find out what books are owned by thousands of libraries. What's more, they might even be able to borrow them online. Be prepared to wait a few weeks, if necessary -- often they can deliver loans within days, but the more obscure the book (i.e. subminiature photography books), the fewer libraries will own it, so it could take longer.

If You Do Want To Buy It, and It's Out of Print

  1. Haunt local antiquarian and used book stores. Let the bookstore owners know what you're looking for.
  2. Ask them to conduct a search for you. Many dealers will do searches free, placing your request, along with many others, in an ad that will run in the used book trade publications.
  3. Some of these search services are available online. Some are linked at the bottom of this page.
  4. Others advertise their services in magazines directed at readers--the New York Times Book Review, the New York Review of Books and such.
  5. Do you know when your local libraries are holding their book sales? These library sales are a splendid place to find books, and dirt cheap at that. (I give children books at Halloween--not instead of candy, but with candy--and I buy them, 3 or 4 for a dollar, at library book sales.)
  6. Check out the remainder tables at every bookstore you visit. In some cases, these are books newly out-of-print, or on their way out of print.
  7. Visit discount book warehouses. These places specialize in remaindered books, and they have thousands of titles. .
  8. Visit your local Goodwill and Salvation Army stores and other resale stores, where books are treated as commodities and sold for as little as a quarter apiece. In one large, undiscriminating pile, you may find everything from very used copies of Danielle Steele to first editions of Leaves of Grass to children's books. It takes a certain amount of patience to sort through such disorganized piles, but gold is there waiting to be found.

Out of Print Search Services

  • Advanced Book Exchange--for books that are used, rare, and out of print, a free place for buyers and sellers to get together. Includes a directory of several hundred dealers.
  • BiblioFind: free out of print book search service.
  • Blake's Books--an antiquarian and used books dealer. Offers free out-of-print search service, and also offers special services to libraries.
  • BookFinders: Rare and out-of-print book finders' service.

    So, good luck and good hunting. Remember, if you really want a book, the waiting and the stalking are part of the game -- they make it all the more pleasurable when you finally find it.