Cynthia C. Berry is a research librarian in the New York office for Greenberg Traurig LLP.
The used book market isn't what it used to be. The book may not be dead, but it's at least feeling a little puckish. Offers of free used books abound on law library mailing lists, such as law-lib. Regional reporters that once sold for thousands of dollars are difficult to GIVE away.
But let's face it, there are times that you want a book, not a CD, not an Internet subscription, a real book. Law students, many of whom are on a shoe string budget, need books for their classes. Legal professionals may want to self-educate on a new topic quickly. And law librarians may have a patron with a need for a book that isn't even in print anymore!
If you also want a bargain, you're in luck. There are a number of sites available on the web that want to sell you the particular book you're looking for at a discounted rate. And although the books are used, typically web sites guarantee that they are updated and in good condition. In addition, there are several useful Internet sites that sell new legal materials as well as used.
A Selection of Web Sites
Lawswap.com - Classifieds - Law students and recent graduates post ads to sell used case books, study aides, course outlines and even Bar Review materials.
Book Horizons - Sells used and new books for law school, graduate students and legal professionals.
Law Book Network® - An internet site for sellers and buyers of new and quality used books. This internet sites mission is to, "organize an effective and efficient worldwide electronic market for law books and related research materials ."
The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd.- Specializes in antiquarian law and legal history, including American, British and international materials. Also offers contemporary legal materials for practitioners and libraries, as well as publish reprints of legal classics."
Meyer Boswell Books - A searchable database of over 6,000 rare and scholarly books on the law available for purchase
National Law Books - This is the worlds largest used law book dealer. According to the site, the books come satisfaction guaranteed that the pre- owned books are like-new, and guaranteed to be up to date and in excellent condition.
Amazon & Ebay
And don't forget about Amazon. Amazon allows registered private parties to offer used books on the same page that Amazon offers the new ones! It's a great example of finding buyers at point of need. For example, take a look at the page for the book "Attorney Client Priviledge". At the time of this writing, there was one copy available used from a private party at a cost of $56.00. Granted, the number of law books that are offered may be limited, but if the one you need is there, and available used, you can get a good deal.
If you've wondered where all those regional reporters are going, take a look at Ebay. Unfortunately, there is no clear cut category for law books. Depending upon what's being sold, you can find them under "antiquarian", "books-non-fiction-professional", or any other number of places. So browsing is difficult. Of course, if you have a particular title in mind, which you likely do, simply select the books category, and conduct a search. A search for "law" under the books category, as of this writing, found 666 items. If all you want to do is add some impressive books to your lobby area, there are deals to be had. If you're looking for a particular title, and it's not immediately available, you may want to set up an Ebay alert, which will send you an email if an item is posted fitting your search criteria.
Matching buyers to sellers wherever they might be is definitely an Internet phenomena. So take advantage of the options you have available when you buy your next "real" book.