Thursday, 30 July 2015

Where Should I Purchase Books For My Library?

Most of our BCSTH member organizations purchase resources for their own libraries. There are many ways to purchase resources, and BCSTH does not recommend any one way (we use a combination) but we offer these tips from our experience so that you can find the ways that work for you.

1.       Support your local bookstore – A bookstore in your community can usually order books for you from the publisher, even if they don’t have the book you want in stock. The price may be higher than ordering from a large online bookseller, but you are supporting your community.

2.       Odin Books – This specialized bookstore sells books relevant to our field
Odin Books in Vancouver - and online for everyone
and the staff members are very knowledgeable and helpful. They also provide book displays and sell books at conferences. Search for and order their books online, or contact them directly for more information. As a specialized bookstore, the price may be higher than large online booksellers, but you have the added value of the staff’s expertise in selecting high-quality materials.

3.       Online booksellers – The big online booksellers (e.g.,, may have the lowest prices and give you the biggest bang for your buck, however we have heard from authors that although they get very wide exposure, the trade-off is that they do not earn as much on the sale of their book. The advantage of sites like for us is that when we are looking for new books to add to the library, they include such a large range of books, including those not yet published, and we can search by topic. You can also find other large booksellers, including those that specialize in used books, or donate to literacy programs, or specialize in certain types of books, for example. You may want to shop around at several sites or find your favourite and stick with it. Generally, the Canadian sites are best as shipping may be free and you don’t have to worry about an exchange rate. However, sometimes a UK site (e.g., will have a book that you can't find elsewhere. Note that in Canada, shipping costs may apply unless your order is over a certain dollar value, or you purchase a special service that includes free shipping - depending on the bookseller's policies.

4.       Publishers online – Many publishers sell the books they publish directly from their website, so why not go to the source. The price may be higher than the large online booksellers and if the publisher is not in Canada, there may be exchange rates to consider. Search the web for the name of the publisher.

5.       Individuals – Some individuals self-publish books and sell them privately through a website, at a specific bookstore. Check for a website.

Overall, shop around to find the best way to purchase books that meets your needs. We can provide help tracking down the best place to purchase a book if you are having trouble.

Here are some general tips to keep in mind as you order books:
  • Be aware of where you are purchasing the book online - there may be a better place than the first site you find through Google.
  • Be sure that you are selecting the correct edition of the book you want -  search to see if a more current edition is available
  • Check that you are ordering the correct format for your needs - hardcover, softcover, kindle, other online version
  • Do you want a new or used book?
  • Are you paying in currency other than Canadian? If so, what is the cost after considering the exchange rate?
  • Do taxes apply?
  • What are the shipping costs?
  • When will it be delivered?
If you'd like certain books to be available to your community, you may wish to consider a partnership with your local public librarian, and recommend resources for the public to borrow from their public library.

Please visit the BCSTH Library to learn more about resources and information services developed especially for members of the BC Society of Transition Houses, and contact us for more information.

Deb & Tina, Co-Librarians
BC Society of Transition Houses
Vancouver, British Columbia