You Googled every which way to Sunday and you can’t find an online copy of a book you need. You tried Amazon and your book is either unavailable or priced beyond your reach. We’re assuming that you already searched your local public library. If you’re a student, you checked with your campus library, right?
Millions of books are now online. But not every book in the world has been digitized or will be. You may need to track it down in hard copy. Here are 8 suggestions.
|Where else to try||Why|
|1. WorldCat||WorldCat is a free searchable database of a billion distinct items (books, audiobooks, videos, newspapers, periodicals, etc.) in the libraries of the world. If you find your book, contact the owning library and ask if they can provide a PDF. Or bring the link/record to your public or campus library. Ask if they can borrow a copy for you via ILL.|
|2. Interlibrary Loan (ILL)||What’s ILL, you say? Libraries have been lending each other stuff since before you were born. It’s the original peer-to-peer sharing network. Your public or campus library will handle the logistics for you. There may be a nominal service fee or none at all.|
|3. Archive.org||Millions of online books & periodicals here either in full text or borrowable as e-books if you sign up for a free account. Why you need an Archive.org account.|
|4. Google Books||Millions of online books & periodicals here. Lots in full text, some in preview (only certain pages), some in snippet (the relevant paragraph) or not at all (placeholder for future full text).|
|5. HathiTrust||Millions of books online here either in full text or borrowable as e-books if you are affiliated with a participating institution.|
|Maybe there’s an inexpensive used copy on the market. These metasearch tools search across multiple bookselling sites for you, including Amazon & eBay.|
|7. Bookshop.org||Had to include this site because the proceeds support independent booksellers|
|8. The publisher’s website||Books go out of print and publishers go out of business. But if you can figure out who published a book, see if they have a website. I have often beaten Amazon’s price by going right to the source. This works better than trying to contact the author, because a lot of publishing contracts forbid authors from privately selling copies of their books.|
Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia.