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Bwog’s Guide to the Book Market

Tomorrow begins a new semester, but you still have all of last semester’s books lying around and none for the Spring. Have no fear! In this “Information Age” we live in, there is a smörgåsbord of methods for dumping old books and purchasing new ones, and we’ve compiled a list of them for you.

Online: The Staples

  • Amazon‘s new book prices generally beat the bookstore, and they let you choose from a wide selection of sellers for used books. Its main perk is Amazon Prime, which is free for students for one year, and gets you free two-day shipping and $4 one-day. Most new books and some used ones are eligible for Prime.
  • Half.com is run by Ebay, so this makes selling with them a lot easier. Their prices are often comparable to Amazon’s.

Online: Your Classmates’ Ventures

There have been a lot of homegrown online book-selling services springing up lately, and these have the benefit of being created by your fellow students for exclusively the Columbia community. Hurray entrepreneurism!

  • Dormslist is probably the biggest seller on this list. They boast over 550 listings and even a party at Campo. A neat feature is “Book Alerts,” where you are notified by email if anyone puts a book you want up for sale, and they can also search other online sellers if you can’t find anyone on campus selling what you want.
  • AlmaMarket doesn’t have as many listings as Dormslist, but they also don’t require registration to post a listing and allow you to sell more than just books. You know, so you can get that big blue bean bag you’ve always wanted.
  • We So Smart is a new service that centers around the notion of a student profile and schedule. It has the handy the ability to copy-paste your entire schedule on Courseworks into a textbox and see what books you need and if any fellow students are selling them, but there are just a handful of listings so far.
  • MoreBeerMoney.com just got started a few days ago. This is a price comparison site that enables you to find the cheapest option (and hence afford more belgian-style wheat ales) from the major purveyors, and also utilizes courseworks to build book lists.

Offline: Flyering

Don’t forget about the time-tested tradition of plain ol’ flyering! Benefits include exercise. Here are some tips for those brave enough to try and figure out how to type sideways on Microsoft Word:

  • How to type sideways on Microsoft Word: Go to Format -> Text Direction and choose your desired direction.
  • Make little tabby things on the bottom: Cutting will probably take the most time, but it really helps. Be sure to include contact info and what you’re selling, in case people take your tab and forget.
  • Know your audience: Don’t bother flyering Carman or John Jay if you’re trying to sell a book for a 4000-level course. For really obscure classes, consider flyering only the building the class takes place in.
  • Include a picture of your book: It takes 10 seconds to Google it, and it will make what you’re selling instantly recognizable. It’s also helpful to say what course the book is for.

Offline: Book Culture

Book Culture has the advantage of having everything immediately available in one place. Often you can choose between buying new or cheaper used editions, but their buy-back policy leaves something to be desired. They will not purchase older editions of textbooks, and do not offer particularly generous terms. The charming scruffiness of the staff may soften the blow.

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15 Comments

  • Why the hate? says:

    @Why the hate? All the comments have been voted down, and here is why:

    There are four sites. If we assume that everyone thumbs up their own sites and thumbs down the others and that each site has an equal number of creators, that means that their will be three times as much hate as love for every site. Even though everyone likes their own site far more than they dislike the others, the binary, one-off nature of voting for comments means that no one gets what they want, their own site being liked.

    In short, I propose bwog abandon first-past-the-pole comment voting and adopt either a multiple-round system or a ranking scheme. Democracy depends on it.

  • antik says:

    @antik at http://www.lonelycampus.com you can add listings with an up to ten pictures and send private messages to sellers

  • barnard '13 says:

    @barnard '13 http://www.betterworldbooks.com is also a really great resource. Your purchase helps worldwide literacy programs, and I actually got some textbooks cheaper than Amazon!

  • not a white person says:

    @not a white person the last time i used abebooks, i waited 3 weeks to get my textbook, only me to email abebooks, ask them why the vendor hadn’t gave me the book yet, and found out the vendor never had the book in the first place. had to go through multiple phone calls to finally get abebooks to refund me. really sketchy experience. anytime i can get a book immediately instead of having it shipped, i do so.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous same story. avoid abebooks.

    2. Same story says:

      @Same story as well.

  • for the white people says:

    @for the white people who have no clue: http://www.abebooks.com

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous WeSoSmart.com is clearly the way to go.

  • Adam Smith says:

    @Adam Smith My invisible hand is holding a Guinness.

  • bwog I love you says:

    @bwog I love you I didnt even know about this amazon prime thing! free shipping makes a huge difference. Thanks bwog!

  • MoreBeerMoney staff says:

    @MoreBeerMoney staff Hey, I’m one of the guys working on morebeermoney.com. We’re adding new features constantly, in the next 12 hours or so we should have better price comparison up and be searching even more vendors soon. If you have any features you’d like to see or find any bugs, respond to this comment or shoot us an email at admin@morebeermoney.com
    If you like the site, please like it on facebook so we can spread the word – http://www.facebook.com/pages/MoreBeerMoneycom/164656416913685

    1. MoreBeerMoney staff says:

      @MoreBeerMoney staff Just to clarify, we don’t look for books posted by your classmates (yet), we search a variety of vendors like Amazon, eBay and Half.com to find the lowest used and new prices from them.

  • ZACA says:

    @ZACA Shopping at the bookstore is among the dumbest activities that Columbia students participate in.

    Another good resource is book.ly/columbia/ for finding the cheapest book prices on the web (also useful for setting your selling price).

    Also, important to remember that the reason these sites have relatively few listings is that they are new – so stop complaining, post your books, and help them get started, all while doing yourself and your classmates a huge favor by selling your books for more and allowing them to buy for less than Amazon, etc.

  • .... says:

    @.... i dont recommend dormslist, service sucks and you can never connect with buyers

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous it seems much easier to use than wesosmart and morebeermoney (interesting names, lol). alma is easy to use too, but has literally no listings.

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