How To Find Economical Used Books

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On occasion people ask me questions about books and I imagine the biggest book question anyone could have is how to find books on the cheap.Whether you just want to buy someone you love a few books for a gift, or whether you are trying to build a first-rate library yourself, it’s imperative to find the best deals as the current retail, and even some used book prices, are exorbitant.

The first step is making a list of the books you most want. If you focus on just one book at a time you will pay more–far more. From a list you can next buy the book that is at the best bargain now. You never know what book you’ll be buying next, but you’ll likely get them all over time and at a great discount. I’ve waited years for some volumes. Maybe you are setting a budget for a certain period of time and you will work in that constraint, but you can still build the best library for the best price that way. My wife and I give ourselves around $20 a week for play money, and since there is absolutely nothing I want in the world other than books, I usually buy from my current list the first of every week based on the best bargain I find.

As we discuss the tools to find these books, just remember the best sites may change over time. There was a time not that long ago I bought the most books from eBay, but that has changed to Amazon as many used sellers list there now. It’s also best, though, to double-check alternate sources before you click “buy” on your favorite site as the price may have dropped too.

Things To Do To Buy Cheap Books: 

  1. Camelcamelcamel.com

This is a site that monitors Amazon. You make a list by searching out the books you want and putting in the price at which you want a notification. There’s also data on what it has sold for in the past on Amazon. If the current price is substantially higher than the listed “lowest price ever”, then likely you should wait a while. Apparently, sellers set prices based on other Amazon sellers. If one seller puts in an absurd price, then several other sellers may do so for a while. It will come back down. Just wait.

2. Addall.com

This is another site that checks many other sites for the cheapest price. It has superior search options and you will likely find the best price. The downside is that you can save your lists by the “memo” options, but it erases every time you clean cookies or other big technical stuff on your computer.  There’s no notifications either.

3. Ebay.com

Ebay has changed over the years and there are now far more “buy it now” listings with a set price than actual auctions. Still, bargains can sometimes be had, and you will get notifications for items in your watch list.

 

There are a few other sites out there like abebooks.com, alibris.com or half.com, but I rarely find the best bargains there. Still, they’re worth checking if you need one specific book only, though addall.com monitors some of them too. Don’t forget to check library sales (even from theological libraries) or thrift stores for a good deal on a more common title.

A Word On Which Book To Buy

Sometimes you can find an inexpensive paperback edition of a book often found in nicer hardback editions. Here it’s best to think about what uses you plan for the book. Will you refer to it often for years to come? In that case, a few extra dollars for a better edition will be worth it.

Best wishes on building your theological library or trying to find that desired volume for a loved one!

 

2 Corinthians and 1 Peter by Lightfoot

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This unique book finishes IVP’s The Lightfoot Legacy Set of the recently discovered unpublished writings of J. B. Lightfoot. If you ever peruse used book listings you will see just how popular his commentaries have been for many years. The book has a gorgeous cover and is, to my mind, as much a collectible item for those who are assembling fairly complete libraries as it is a usable commentary.

On the negative side, you really couldn’t call the portion on either 2 Corinthians or 1 Peter a complete commentary. There is a good bit of untranslated Greek as well. His disdain for the Textus Receptus is palpable too. Still, his logical mind is really good in many places. For example, he makes careful arguments on the chronology of Paul and takes some colleagues to task for carelessness. I wouldn’t agree with all his conclusions, but find interacting with him quite helpful.

Other things are added to this volume that makes it even more valuable. There is an expanded rendition of his justly famous “The Christian Ministry.” The volume concludes with some nice articles by others that have appeared on Lightfoot himself.

If you already have the first two in this series, you will definitely want this one as it is of equal value. The set is a nice one too.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Unceasing Kindness: A Biblical Theology of Ruth

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It’s a tale of two books. There’s the narrow part on Ruth’s canonical placement and how that affects theology and the warm part on the great theological themes of Ruth. One is esoteric and the other is quite helpful to anyone who might be studying the Book of Ruth.

Peter Lau and Gregory Goswell provide this latest entry in the reputable New Studies In Biblical Theology series edited by D. A. Carson. It’s clear they have studied their subject carefully even if there is a mixture of the obscure and the enlightening.

As for that canonical placement there was no information given that would have made me reject Ruth’s current placement and its closest relation to Judges. I’m not saying their conclusions were bad, but I wonder if that whole section would have been better placed in a lengthy appendix.

The book gives its value to our studies when it takes theology straight on as is more traditional in such volumes. For example, the authors really mined the significance of famine and tied it in to the Bible at large. There were profound insights in that section. The volume also, as you would expect, tackles redemption in Ruth. The corollary thoughts on typology (Is Boaz a type of Christ?) are also discussed to advantage.

Overall, despite some chapters that would only appeal to specialists, this is a helpful volume.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Devoted To God by Sinclair Ferguson

This book is special. Its title might not suggest the wallop it packs, though the subtitle “Blueprints For Sanctification” at least sends you the right direction. When the author says he is going to approach his subject by doing some expositions of the key NT passages you still might realize what you are in for. It’s only when you actually start reading and the chapters add up that you see the treasure you have. Those passages he expounds are ones we read over too quickly and their incredible value he simply unfolds. Along the way, the book proves itself an instant classic. That might be cliché, but I believe time will prove it true.

There’s an appendix that lists the “Blueprint Passages” at the end, and he has something to say on each, but he soared in Romans 12, Galatians 2:20, and especially Romans 6. He really helped me see the role the Law has in the life of the Christian today. He steered away from extremes that find so many adherents these days.

I could not say that I agreed with every sentence in the book, but he always carefully explained himself and made you do your own thinking. I can’t follow all reformed conclusions that were made, but I think most Bible believers will be helped and everyone needs this book. I challenge you to see if you can’t agree with his final chapter on the ultimate goal. I sure did.

I must give you warning. This book is not for casual reading. It demands slow, reflective reading. You invest that effort and you will be rewarded immensely. This is one of the great ones.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

2 Great New Surveys

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Old Testament

Seasoned professors Ed Hindson and Gary Yates join forces to give us “The Essence of the Old Testament: A Survey.” This volume is aimed at beginning undergraduate students and serious laymen as well. B & H Academic has almost concerned the market on Bible surveys for every level and this one holds up the high standard of its sister volumes and yet is accessible to its target audience.

There’s three introductory chapters adeptly looking at big picture issues like people, places, archaeology and canon. Each section of the Old Testament gets like Pentateuch, historical books and so on get a helpful chapter.

The majority of the book is a chapter for each book of the Old Testament, except for joint chapters on, for example, I and II Kings. Each chapter covers background, an outline, a section on message that basically covers the contents of the book, and a short section on theological significance.

This book is a gorgeous volume with nice pictures, charts, and maps that will be a real asset to you.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

New Testament

“The Essence of the New Testament: A Survey” by Elmer Towns and Ben Gutierrez is similar and companion volume to “The Essence of the Old Testament:A Survey” by Hindson and Yates. It too is aimed at beginning undergraduate students and serious laymen and continues B & H Academic’s reputation for premier surveys.

There are three chapters on introductory matters. The first two cover textual issues and New Testament interpretation respectively. The chapter on “The History Between the Testaments” sets the New Testament in perspective. While I prefer the design in its OT counterpart better, this is still acceptable. I would have also preferred a more broad approach on the Gospels than just focusing on the Synoptic Problem.

The real value in this volume is the chapters on the individual books of the New Testament. They are well done and include fine pictures, maps, charts, and content.

I highly recommend this survey, and think it even a better idea to grab its OT counterpart at the same time to have an outstanding set.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

 

God’s Pursuit of Man by A. W. Tozer

A. W. Tozer turned out an incredible amount of probing, moving, and spiritual writings. His classics “The Pursuit of God” and ” The Knowledge of the Holy” are two of the most important Christian books that we possess today–Something like a 12 on a scale of 1-10. This volume is only slightly below those venerable books. Not agreeing exactly with the Calvinist or the non-Calvinist, he never demonstrates the fear of man and writes what he got from intimate communion with his Lord.

To my mind, he writes mostly on what salvation is, what it is not, why we often have a superficial view of it. The second half of the book he moves on to the Third Person of the Trinity–the Holy Spirit. I heard echoes of his theological masterpiece, “The Knowledge of the Holy.” Actually, this book is intended to fill in some of the gaps, as well as be a counterpart to “The Pursuit of God.”

I can’t really think of a downside to the book and was personally moved by it. Some might think they find a few strands of legalism in it, but please notice their is nothing of the Pharisee’s heart from his pen. This book is a winner all the way.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Transforming Discipleship by Greg Ogden (Revised)

Here’s a revised and expanded edition of an influential book on discipleship. Ogden is one of the most respected authors on the subject and he is passionate about the subject as well. He gives the reader a lot to chew on.

The book is in three main parts with the first one covering what has gone wrong with discipleship. He exposes the superficiality in Christians today as the proof of discipleship going awry. He says people worship “with a reviewer’s mentality.” He cites studies that show few Christians have a goal of being committed to Christ, but are more focused on the American Dream. He laments how the lifestyles of Christians and non-Christians are indistinguishable. He says, “It would appear that Christians have been almost as seduced by self-focus as the broader population.”  He surmises that we have been diverted from the main calling we have. We are consumed with programs that does not actually disciple people. We says people don’t have the right idea about church and churches don’t have it about discipleship.

The next part is where he traces discipleship in the New Testament. He goes, of course, through Christ’s ministry. Next, he tackles Paul and even admits that Paul doesn’t use the word “disciple.” He shows Paul speaks of parenting young believers and transforming lives. He draws it out with great detail.

The balance of the book is a detailed explanation of his particular method of discipleship. He emphasizes relationships and  not expecting quick results. It’s interesting, but strikes me as working better in some areas or with professional people. Still, it’s worth considering. In an added chapter, he unnecessarily pits preaching and discipleship and is too harsh on preaching. 

This book is necessary for our shelves in discipleship.


I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255
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Faithful to the End by Wilder, Charles, and Easley

Are you looking for an introduction that gives more depth to a study of the General Epistles and Revelation? Then you will love this book. It’s the kind of scholarly proficient and pastorally relevant volume that can make a real impact in your studies. Besides the fact that Hebrews to Revelation is the end of the Bible, the authors see a unity of “a strong theme of being faithful and persevering in the faith.”

My favorite chapter was the first one which covered Hebrews. There were great insights on every page. It just so happened that I was recently reading the introduction in a major exegetical commentary on Hebrews and found much more here that opened up what Hebrews is all about.

The chapters on the other Epistles were good, with perhaps James and Jude getting the best treatment. Revelation was explained well, as were the schools of thought of how to view it prophetically. He attempted to explain Revelation in terms that would make sense to most of the schools of thought. In the limitations of that approach, it worked.

This is a great volume and I highly recommend it. 

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Letters and Homilies for Jewish Christians by Witherington

This volume joins “Letters and Homilies for Hellenized Christians” Volumes 1 and 2 for Witherington’s three-volume set that covers the General Epistles including the Pastorals, Epistles of John and of Peter, and in this volume, Hebrews, James, and Jude. I always marvel at his output as he has written on most of the NT and other subjects as well.

Having reviewed the other two volumes, I feel he keeps up his standard of work here. He keeps that socio-rhetorical emphasis that he is famous for as well. I can’t always agree with his conclusions, but they are never uninteresting.

He deals with Hebrews first. He summarizes the different viewpoints on authorship well (he favors Apollos) and rightfully emphasizes Christology to good effect. He sees Hebrews as a rhetorical masterpiece and I agree. His commentary, though I would disagree at points, was helpful.

I chuckle at how he writes his Introductions for each book because he approaches them in a different order each time and just seems to start at random. Still, he gets it covered each time. 

Next, he tackles James. As you might imagine with his emphases, he writes on the “social ethos of James’s audience and home congregation” with good food for thought. I found his thoughts on Jude even better.

This is a quality commentary of the acedemic type and I recommend it.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

God and Tattoos by Allan Dayhoff

Have you ever read a book that was both provocative and somewhat outside your comfort zone, but still opened your eyes? This book by Allan Dayhoff was such a book for me. Tattoos to my mind were gross, ugly, and wrong. While I still am not a fan of tattoos at all, this book chided me for never considering what is going on in the souls of those with tattoos. Why are tattoos exploding in our day? More importantly, what should a Christian see in this trend of people writing on themselves? 

The author did what it never occurred to me to do: ask people why they have tattoos. He asked them what their particular tattoos meant and that opened up a massive flow of information from which some conclusions could be drawn.

He found that some are doing it because it is the “it” thing to do in our generation. In other words, for some it is merely a jump on the cultural trend bandwagon. I suspected this one, but sadly never thought about the other reasons involved. It’s in those other reasons that this book is eye opening. 

It seems as though people are needing empathy and to have meaning. In that they do not have those needs mets, Dayhoff explains that their souls are crying out these needs and writing them on their own skin. People are finding this new way to say who they are. Often, the story on their skins is one of deep pain. Other insights abound.

I met the author and while I could not do all his methods, I saw that he was sincere in sharing his faith. I must warn you too that in some cases he directly quotes his interviewees and that means some really bad language. That arose, no matter what we feel about it, from his approach to write a book that would teach Christians and could be used with non-Christians at the same time. 

It’s probably not a book for everyone, but I found it instructive and fascinating.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.