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Great Science-Fiction & Fantasy Works
Science-fiction & fantasy literature: a critical list with discussions.
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Welcome to the Great Science-Fiction & Fantasy Works web site!
You have apparently come to this page from a link on a search engine or another site. If this is your first visit here, I much recommend that you take a few minutes to look over the introductory material accessible via the red “Introductory” navigation block just below the pictures. An understanding of the purposes and principles of organization of this site will, I hope and believe, much augment your experience here, for this page and in general. You can simply click this link to get at the site front page
, which, unsurprisingly, is the best place to start. Thank you for visiting.
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You are here: Home » Buying » Buying ( = this page)
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About Buying Books On Line
“Books are a uniquely portable magic.”
– On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Buying Books On Line, New & Used
If you want to buy a book currently in print, and want it new, and live within reasonable proximity to a good bookstore, well and fine. If you want to buy a used copy of a book—whether or not still in print—you can, if there are some near you, used-book shops; but the odds of finding a given book in a given used-book shop are small to virtually nil. The answer to these problems is to buy your books on line.
My experience is that the best single source for books on line, new or used, is AbeBooks. Thus, throughout this site, whenever a book is listed with a link, that link is to the AbeBooks listing for that book. Note that such links are each one of two kinds: usually it is a search by book title and author name; but when it is for what I call a “preferred edition”—a particular edition of some book—it is a search by that edition’s ISBN. At times, books are listed here but not linked—typically because they are components of a recommended omnibus volume that is more convenient, and often rather less expensive, than acquiring each book separately. But, if you want to seek out unlinked individual copies of such omnibused works, you can use AbeBooks’ Search Page, which is also good for, obviously, searching out any books not listed here.
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About “Condition” for Used Books
There is a standard set of terms used by used-book sellers to describe the condition of the books they sell, and it behooves the potential buyer to be acquainted with those terms. While AbeBooks has a useful page describing all the many common terms, here is a quick summary of the essential ones (but see that linked page some possible modifying descriptors).
- New is self-explanatory.
- As New means it isn’t literally fresh off the presses, but is indistinguishable from copy that is.
- Fine is almost “as new” but allowing for the normal effects of time on an unused book that has been protected. A fine book shows no damage.
- Near-Fine is just what is says: better than 'Very Good” but not quite fully “Fine”.
- Very Good describes a book that is worn but untorn. For many collectors this is the minimum acceptable condition for all but the rarest items. Any defects must be noted by the seller.
- Good describes the condition of an average used worn book that is complete. Any defects must be noted by the seller.
- Fair shows wear and tear but all the text pages and illustrations or maps are present. It may lack endpapers, half-title, and even the title page. All defects must be noted by the seller.
- Poor describes a book that has the complete text but is so damaged that it is only of interest to a buyer who seeks a reading copy. If the damage renders any of the text illegible then the book is not even poor.
- Ex-library copies must always be designated as such no matter what the condition of the book.
- Book club copies must always be designated as such no matter what the condition of the book.
- Binding copy describes a book in which the pages or leaves are perfect, but the binding is very bad, loose, off, or non-existent.
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This page was last modified on Tuesday, 21 March 2023, at 4:53 am Pacific Time.