Posted by: Sally Ingraham | October 9, 2009

Better Book Buying

I have found myself in an odd situation this year, and it is increasingly frustrating, in a rather silly way. Sometime in January I signed up for a trial of Amazon Prime so that I could get a pair of speakers in two days without paying shipping. A little over a month later it occurred to me that I needed to cancel Amazon Prime before the trial period ran out. I was too late – I was charged for a full year of “free” 2 day shipping. Obviously, I resigned myself to this fate, and have been blissfully buying books and music all year and enjoying the 2 day turn around.

PenguinHowever, I have had the great good fortune in the past couple of months, of discovering the worlds of Penguin, Persephone Books, Godine, The Book Depository…in other words, a whole lot of book buying options that are way more fun than Amazon!

David PearsonI’ve also been drooling over things like David Pearson designed book covers, and dreaming about collecting them – all of them! I’ve even been going so far as to imagine myself browsing through used book stores in search of Pocket Penguins.

Suffice it to say, as soon as this Amazon Prime thing runs out, I am going to change my book buying tactics. I’m SO excited!

Add to my list of publishers and book sellers – I know you share the love! Recommendations and favorites, anyone? 🙂


  1. I buy more foreign language books than books in English these days, Sarah, so I’ll have to defer to our buddies Claire, Emily, and Frances for more info on the stylish design-in-English front. However, I’m inordinately fond of the relatively simple but new-look Oxford World’s Classics (i.e. the new ones released in the past year or two like the pic of The Woman in White that’s up on my blog); in fact, the covers of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and Matthew Lewis’ The Monk are just stunning to me (especially the Brontë). I’m also a big fan of the black Penguins, and the Vintage/Black Lizard series has some great-looking noir titles. I just bought my first Godine book about a week ago, and I’ve also enjoyed looking at the Hesperus titles I run across from time to time. And while the NYRB Classics titles often come with pedestrian covers in tow, they occasionally have some really striking artwork as well (look up Gautier’s My Fantoms for a cover that sold me on buying the book as much as the author and the text did or John Glassco’s Memoirs of Montparnasse for a work that pairs Paris and photography as bait). Ah, what an interestic topic you have posted about today!

  2. If you’re in the mood for philosophy, my first four Penguin Great Ideas books just came in the mail, and they’re EVEN PRETTIER than I’d anticipated! I’m in the midst of Seneca as I type.

    And I second Richard on the Hesperus Press (which I think I found out about from Frances?). I got their catalog in the mail, and there are so many beautiful and fascinating-looking titles! I have actually been pretty utilitarian in my book-consumption until recently, usually just going for the cheapest paperback option (except for movie tie-in covers; those I can’t handle), but I have to say that my blogging friends have really upped the ante as far as attractiveness.

    Anyway, it sounds like you have some book-buying fun ahead of you in the New Year!

  3. Ooh, that David Pearson-link is dangerous!!! *I want – I want – I want*

  4. Another option to consider is Better World Books – free shipping in the U.S. on anything! And don’t forget OneWorld Classics (not in the U.S., but their editions of classic novels are always really pretty!)!

    I can’t remember the last time I bought a book through Amazon. These days I tend to stick to the used bookstores so that I can buy more books without feeling so bad about it – Amazon might be competitive compared to Borders and its ilk, but for the price of one book on Amazon (without shipping), I can generally get 4 or 5 at my local used bookstore!

  5. Thanks for all the info guys!

    Richard – I LOVE what I’ve seen of the Oxford World’s Classics (just now dragged myself away from the site) and I want half a dozen – I even want that copy of “Wuthering Heights”, even though I don’t regard the story itself with much love!

    Emily – Movie tie-in covers=gah! It looks like the Hesperus Press site is being worked on, so I’ll have to contain my curiousity – which is good practice for me, and fits in with not actually buying books until next year… 🙂

    Eva – Watch out!!

    Steph – I stumbled into my support of Amazon – I usually only buy books through the independent sellers there, and can’t wait to get back to that. I’m also eager to start hitting up my local used bookstores more frequently – I’m already plotting out a book-buying road trip down Route 1, which has bookstores scattered along the length of it here in ME.

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