How To Find Books That Aren't in Your Local Library or Bookstore

Elizabeth Jolley

Decide if you can afford to pay for the book and a reasonable mailing fee in order to get it from a bookseller, or if you'd rather get it free from a library. Since many of the books we all want to read were written a while ago & published in England, sometimes buying can get quite expensive.

Buy Your Book in a Bookstore:

Check the website of your favorite bookstore. You may find a copy (often a modern reprint).

See if your bookstore has a method of searching for used books. You will usually pick up the book at the store, and you won't pay for shipping.

If you haven't found your book yet, you may have a bit of search ahead of you. Don't give up—there are still places you may find that book! If your city has a good used bookstore ask them to search on your behalf. They can connect to other used bookstores to find you a used copy—often a good bit less expensive than new.

Buy Your Book from an Online Bookseller:

Next try the Internet: type the title of your book into your web browser, and follow links provided. Beware, some of the booksellers you find may not have a safe way for you to purchase the book online. Look for names that are known business sites: (US version) (US version) (UK version) (UK version)

If these sites don't have your book when you look, you can ask them to let you know if they find a copy later, and tell them how much you are willing to pay, so they will only tell you if they find a copy you can afford. This is nice, since some older used books can cost quite a lot!

If you do find a copy of your book on a website that isn't a big known business, you must be very careful about sending money online—some of these people are scammers who pose as proper booksellers to get your credit card information. If you are still living with your parents, you need to show the page to one of them and let them decide if it is safe or not.

Buy Your Book Online through Girls Gone By Publishers:

Another option for finding some older books that were published in the UK: Girls Gone By Publishers

This is a site dedicated to preserving & republishing older books, so that modern girls can read about girls in different eras. When you search for a book in this site, you may find their paperback reprints for a reasonable price. (Click BOOK TITLES, then BOOKS IN PRINT). If your book isn't listed, check their Out-of-Print listings (Click BOOK TITLES, then OUT OF PRINT). If you still can't find it, you can search for a used copy through reputable booksellers listed on the site (Click BOOK TITLES, then DEALERS). On this page, you will see lists of the titles by bookseller. Click on the seller's link to go to his/her site. Beware that prices will probably be listed in British Pounds Sterling (£), which have an exchange rate of about $1.60-$1.65 US Dollars. Shipping from abroad can also be more than you might expect. (It may be cheaper to ship by 'sea post' rather than air, but it can take up to six weeks to some parts of the U.S.)

Buy Your Book Online through Lodestar Books:

An option for finding older nautical titles: Lodestar Books

This small British publisher deals in high quality out-of-print or older nautical titles, and many gems can be found on their website. The website also provides for purchase directly from them. (Contributed by David Bamford.)

Find Your Book Through a Library:

Check your local library to see if your book is in their collection. If it is not, ask if they are part of a larger group of libraries that allow you to request a book from any of the libraries. After you make your request, the library that has your book will send it to your library so you can check it out.

Ask at your library's circulation desk. They can search for your book in many libraries at once, and if they find it they can arrange an inter-library loan.

Find Your Book through an Online Library Service: is a catalog of books available at libraries worldwide. Some may offer inter-library loan, but if you are lucky you will find your book at a library somewhere near you. This website has a page for every book, which shows if the book can be read online, is available through a library, or who is selling it. A nice combination of resource listings!

Borrow a copy from the TARS Library:

These are books that relate to Arthur Ransome, are owned by TARS, and may be borrowed by mail anywhere in the world by TARS members. Borrowers pay only the cost of shipping. The catalogue is available on the TARS website:

Borrow a copy from a TARS member:

Ask on TarBoard:
(Contact Elizabeth Jolley at for more help)

Many of us own copies we will lend via mail, if you are very careful with them.

Pleasant Reading!

This article is ©2011 by Elizabeth Jolley, and posted on All Things Ransome with permission.

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