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How to Find Books

Big stack o' books: © Copyright J.B. Hare 1999, All Rights Reserved

At Amazon...  Electronic books on the Internet...  Used books on the Internet...  At the Library...  At Local Bookstores...  More book links 

We get a lot of requests as to how to find books. Since you can't order books from this site directly, this page shares some of our knowledge and some hints about how to find books on the Internet and beyond.

Hint number one:
DON'T start at a chain bookstore, or the generic bookstore at the local mall (Crown, Borders, Barnes & Noble, etc.) Here's why.


First of all, Visit the Sacred Texts Bookstore at By purchasing books through this link you will support this continuing work of this site. Amazon will also allow you to quickly determine whether a given book is in print, and in some cases whether it is available on the used market.

Used Books on the Internet

If the book is on the used market, you may also wish to try these sites:

This will give you an idea of the price range for a specific book, and you can probably find what you're looking for at a reasonable price if it has been in print in the recent past. You can also get an idea of a price range if you are shopping for a used version. Often times used bookstores get lazy and just price the book by its general size, appearance and date of publication; so you might score a $1 book in the bargain bin which is listed at or for $50. Stranger things have happened!

You can also try these sites, which allow you to comparison shop various book sites for the best price, on both new and used copies:

Electronic Books on the Internet

The complete text of the book you are looking for may be on the Internet, just a few mouse clicks away. If it is, you can find it using one of the following sites:

The Online Books Page. This site, which is constantly updated, is a comprehensive index of etexts which are in the public domain, complete, and freely available.

Project Gutenberg is the original volunteer-based etext project. Thousands of high quality, public domain etexts are available through through this site and its mirror sites.

The University of Virginia Electronic Text Center is a center for academic etext preparation, and has many unique collections.

The Wiretap Electronic Text Archive is one of the oldest etext collections on the Internet.

Google is the best search engine to use if you are looking for etexts, as it indexes every word in every files it scans, not just titles and keywords.

Ask Jeeves is the search engine of choice for non-experts. You can ask it a question in plain English, and it often produces startlingly good results.


If the book can't be found on the used market, it's time to try the libraries. Our favorite interactive catalog on the web is the MELVYL catalog at the University of California ( The UC system has one of the largest collections in the world (bet you didn't know that), and certainly one of the best and easiest to use interactive catalogs around.

If the book can't be found in MELVYL, then the other place I check is the Library of Congress. ( This isn't as feature-rich as MELVYL, but there are often additional editions listed in it that will confirm the existence of a book or earlier editions than MELVYL, so it's worth searching.

Also worth a look is the British Library: this is the online catalog (or catalogue, in 'British') for one of the oldest and richly stocked libraries in the world.

If a book can't be found in the above databases, there is a strong chance that it simply doesn't exist.

Hints: If you live in California, or are visiting, some of the UC libraries (notably UCLA and UC Santa Cruz) have open stacks; this means anyone can walk in off the street and use the library, you don't have to be a student, faculty member or alumni. Even if you don't live in California, searching the UC catalog may turn up valuable bibliographic information about the book. If you are an alumni of the UC, consider joining your Alumni association; it's cheap and you also get a library card.

For fun, look up 'Necronomicon' in MELVYL. You may be surprised at what you find.

Used and Independent Bookstores

We also encourage you to search used and independent bookstores. The book you're probably searching for very rarely shows up at the big chains. The minimum wage chain store clerk will probably look at you like you're an alien and charge you a stiff premium for special orders. If you ask for books about magic they'll probably point you to a big hulking stack of Harry Potter books . The big chains are driving the smaller bookstores out of business, and the result is less diversity and higher prices for books.

You'll have much better luck if you patronize the independent, speciality and used stores. This is because the books at these stores are stocked by people who care about books, not by bean counters from an inventory list which overweights the New York Times bestseller list.

Here in Santa Cruz, the whole town is book-crazy. There are three big bookstores, and a dozen small ones. If you live here, you already know about these stores. If you visit Santa Cruz, we recommend you take a look at these stores. If you love books as much as we do, you may want to move here! Here are four of our favorites, two of which have active websites. All addresses are Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Bookshop Santa Cruz
1520 Pacific Ave. This is the largest bookshop in Santa Cruz, fiercely independent (they ran a chain bookstore out of business!), and has a large religion/metaphysical section, as well as one of the best computer sections you'll see outside of a specialty store. Plus they had comfy chairs years before anyone else. Hints: They can order any book in print, and charge much less of a markup for this service than a chain store. Also, if the front checkout lane is busy (as it often is), try the registers at the other end of the store.

Logos books
1117 Pacific Ave. The largest used bookstore for miles around; a very magical bookstore, and living proof that chaos theory works. The only one larger in Northern California is Moe's in Berkeley. Logos' basement stacks have provided most of the raw material for sacred-texts which we didn't check out of UC Santa Cruz. It is amazing what passes through Logos, and they typically don't mark up rare books, so occasionally you'll find a used book which is listed for $500 at Amazon or other used book sites turn up for $4.50! I'm there practically every day and they have about four entire rows devoted to Religion, Folklore, and Spirituality. Hints: Books on specific religions can sometimes be found in the (appropriate) History, Anthropology, and Foreign Language shelves. Books on Wicca often get misfiled in the Esoteric or Mythology section. Check the shelving carts; all of the fresh books sit there for a few days until they are shelved, in no particular order. At that point they are already priced, so you can take them right to the register. The clerks don't mind--less books for them to shelve....

Gateways Books
1018 Pacific Ave. This is one of the largest metaphysical bookstores on the west coast, you can often find quality used books here as well. Gateways is run by a local Yoga Center, but gives equal time to all belief systems, including Wicca, Buddhism, Christianity and so on.

The Literary Guillotine
204 Locust St. This is a small used bookstore which specializes in academic books. It is crammed to the ceiling with obscure and scholarly books. Hint: The owner (who is there nearly every day) has an encyclopedic knowledge of obscure books and can do offline used searches, so don't be afraid to chat him up.

Book Links

Here are some random book links which people have sent me. I haven't used these sites, but they seem appropriate for sacred-texts, so I welcome feedback about these links if anyone actually uses them. I also welcome suggestions for links to add here. Here's how to contact me.

  • Khemraj Shrikrishnadass This is the ecommerce site for a long-established bookstore in India. If you are located in India, you might want to check this out.
  • Used Book Lover's Guides Regional guidebooks and online searchable database to 8,000 used book dealers in the USA & Canada. This is a commercial (i.e. for-pay) book search service. May be most appropriate if you run a used bookstore or are a hard-core book collector.
  • I don't have any personal experience with this site. A sacred-texts reader emailed:

      I have visited your web site often during the last few months and find it an extremely useful resource for religious scriptures. I suggest you also bookmark for buying books. It is the most famous publishing organisation in India for books on Hinduism-Bhagvad Gita, Bhagvad Purana, Other Puranas, Valmiki Ramayan and Tulsidas Ramcharitmanasa. Plus their books are cheaper and rates are low and in Indian rupees (on many other sites, rates are in US $ and are 10-20 times higher than prevailing in India).


It costs thousands of dollars a year to pay for this sites' bandwidth and maintenance. Without your continued support, sacred-texts would go offline or have to be scaled back. Your support is crucial; this site does not receive grants or institutional support.

The best way to support the site is to purchase the CD-ROM. The Sacred-texts CD-ROM has hundreds of books on it that are extremely hard to locate, including all of the major world scriptures. If you buy a copy, you can feel good knowing that you are helping keep this site online.

--J.B. Hare

This site is available on CD-ROM!

Buy it now


The Internet Sacred Text Archive CD-ROM includes electronic texts of nearly a thousand of the most important books and articles ever written, including over two hundred transcribed specially for sacred-texts. Years of extensive research and scholarship went into this CD-ROM: all the core texts of religion, mythology, folklore and the esoteric are on one disk.

"worth far more than the price"

This collection includes the full text of each book, many with footnotes and illustrations. To buy all of these books you would have to spend tens of thousands of dollars, even if you could find them: many are out of print and hard to obtain at any price. You pay just pennies a book: the CD-ROM costs just $49.95; worldwide shipping is free when you buy direct!

"Phenomenal collection"

Everything on the disk can be viewed in a standard web browser on your PC or Macintosh. Proceeds from sales of the CD-ROM go to support free access to the Internet Sacred Text Archive on the web and development of new etexts.