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Pick of the Litter

by Ralph Sumner

Floating downstream

Everybody knows about Amazon dot com. Everybody that has a computer, anyway. It's a great place to have a good look at the reactions and impressions of other readers before buying a book--it's worth the time to read the Amazon book reviews.

But there's more to buying books than floating down the Amazon. "Old Japan hands" with Japanese-capable PCs realize that they can access http://www.amazon.co.jp and order their books locally and maybe get free shipping. Or, perhaps you've been checking out all the deals from Barnes and Noble over at http://www.bn.com. But, if you're stuck in that rut, it's time to move!

Saving dough with BAMM.com
Usually if you want to save a few bucks, you have to opt for delivery via canoe going around Cape Horn. Hey, it might get here by next summer! But there are alternatives. The first time I ordered from http://www.booksamillion.com (http://www.bamm.com), I had them ship air freight from the US. The books plus shipping were cheaper than the same books would have been from Amazon dot com without the shipping. They arrived within a week - quicker than books I ordered from http://www.amazon.co.jp with free local shipping. BAMM is a "club" that charges 5 dollars a year for membership for its best rates, but you'll save more than that on your first order. The only down side is that you can't always get all the books you want at BAMM. Sometimes, I'll check out my shopping list at Amazon, flip to another window in my Opera browser and order the books available at BAMM, then flip back to the Amazon window and order the remaining books that BAMM didn't carry.

BAMM has a lot of interesting sections to browse, such as bargain sections, audio books and even magazines. Want to order the current issue of your favorite computer magazine? They've got it. Subscriptions, too.

Looking for OP books
Lots of times when I'm looking for a title at Amazon, I'll find that it is out of print and unavailable. I've left my name and requested to be contacted if they find a copy, but with no luck so far. A much better option, I've found, is to trot on over to http://abebooks.com and do a search there. This site accesses a network of over 9,000 independent dealers for used, rare, and out-of-print books around the world. You will be given a list of the shops that have the book you're looking for, and the prices and book condition listed by each shop. I just did a search for This Is Aikido by Koichi Tohei and found 9 shops willing to sell me the book for as low as $100 and as high as $225. For comparison, I checked the "Out of Print" section at Barnes and Noble and found two copies ($145 & $215), two more copies at BAMM's "Hard-to-find" site ($203 & $254), and 3 copies at Amazon's used books site ($100 to $174). At abebooks, you have the option of buying directly from the local shop or purchasing through abebooks. I was amazed to even find multiple sources on their site for a very old manual for servicing classic tractors that I wanted.

Getting the deals
You've probably already found the great deals in the Barnes and Noble "Bargain Book" section at http://www.bn.com/bargain/. But maybe you're wishing you could get the delightful Bargain Book Catalog that you used to get in your American mailbox courtesy of E.R.Hamilton of Falls Village, CT. You can't go wrong getting printer's ink all over your fingers while spending a lazy few hours going through their newsprint catalog. But, if you know the catalog, you'll remember that they don't take credit cards, and they don't ship outside the US. Well, now you can browse them online at http://www.hamiltonbook.com and they will even take VISA. Still no foreign shipments, though. Maybe you can order for delivery at your brother-in-law's house in the States and hope he sends you the package, or at least is able to find the package next time you're there.

The Hamilton prices are hard to beat, as those of you familiar with the catalog will know. They have lots of categories, too. I always check there to see if they have popular books that I want, because "popular" often equals "overstocks" that Hamilton will be selling for 5 bucks while you'd be paying 15, 20, or 25 at Amazon. I often visit the site just to flip through what is currently available in areas of personal interest. However, most of their computer books could more appropriately be labeled "items of historical interest." They also have discounted prices on regular books, but these prices are a good bit higher than their bargain book prices.

Finding the dusty musties
Maybe your thing is old books. Like, say, a few hundred years old. You can mosey on over to http://xerxesbooks.com and browse their rather expensive selections of "over 28,000 titles published from the 16th through the 20th centuries."

Walking on the wild side
OK, it had to come to this. Those of you who are interested in controversial books will want to visit these sites. The rest of you, stop here and don't peek!

Many Americans will be familiar with the Loompanics catalog, that purports to be "the best book catalog in the world." It is certainly unusual, and it carries a lot of controversial books, not to mention unusual feature articles. The catalog is now online at http://www.loompanics.com/ and has about as complete a repertoire of "alternative" titles as you're likely to find anywhere. They do have a section of the sex and drugs stuff, but I don't go there and that is not what makes them stand out. The wide range of types of alternative titles is probably their most interesting feature: little-known history, subversive revenge, paranoia, survivalism, and other types of anarchy remote from mainstream America.

Head for Paladin Press at http://www.paladin- press.com/ for books and videotapes on personal and financial freedom, survival and preparedness, firearms and shooting, martial arts and self-defense, and more. If you live in Australia, you might lose some of the books to customs.

Finding reviews and info
For many years I have been a subscriber to Whole Earth Magazine, a print magazine quarterly ("access to tools, ideas, and practices")--usually with a specific theme for each issue. They have great articles and reviews of a wide range of books, ideas, and tools, some of which you'll decide you just have to have. I have just finished reading a couple of fascinating articles in the Winter 2001 issue ("India Will Not Behave" by Arundhati Roy and "Memo to American Muslims" by Muqtedar Khan). The magazine has top-notch regulars (e.g., water and wildlife specialist Peter Warshall) and a grab-bag of good to great contributors each issue, mostly established authors. Well, it's not all online, but some of it is. Head on over to http://www.wholeearthmag.com/ and have a look. For this one, you'll probably want to subscribe to the mail version.


© Algorithmica Japonica Copyright Notice: Copyright of material rests with the individual author. Articles may be reprinted by other user groups if the author and original publication are credited. Any other reproduction or use of material herein is prohibited without prior written permission from TPC. The mention of names of products without indication of Trademark or Registered Trademark status in no way implies that these products are not so protected by law.

Algorithmica Japonica

February, 2002

The Newsletter of the Tokyo PC Users Group

Submissions : Editor


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