Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Used Books - and 9 Other Things You Shouldn't Buy New

Thanks to Lifehacker for this link to an MSN Money article by Liz Pulliam Weston entitled, "10 Things You Shouldn't Buy New."

The article discusses a handful of items for which you'll get far more bang for your buck when purchasing used, including timeshares, cars, and office furniture. Also included are books, DVDs, and CDs - a secondhand trend onto which I had already caught on (I always doublecheck for deals on half.com!).

When it comes to books, etc, however, keep this in mind: it's difficult to find good shipping deals from secondhand sellers (such as independent Amazon merchants or those selling through half.com), and most shipments are via media mail, which can be painfully slow. As a general rule, I only buy used if the book/video/CD is advertised as "Very Good," "Like New," or "New," and the price is marked down at least $5-$10 (since shipping usually runs $3-$4 per item). Even so, buying the book as a gift for another can be risky: I once purchased as a Christmas gift a "Like New" hardcover book marked down about 80%, and while the book appeared to be unread and in pristine condition, I subsequently found that the original buyer had handwritten a personal inscription of his own on one of the title pages. For the most part, however, I've had great luck with online purchases from secondhand sellers - just make sure you're really getting a better deal on a used item than you could have found for one that is brand new; my favorite comparison shopping site for new and used books is allbookstores.com, which compares prices - taking tax and shipping into consideration - on any given book at over two dozen new and used booksellers.

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