Building a Theological Library Using Amazon Wish Lists

By July 29, 2011 July 1st, 2019 Blog

Ok, if you’re on this site then more than likely, like me, you love books.  And like me, you’re always looking for the best deals. Here are a few tips on getting great deals on used theological books using Amazon’s Wish List and partner shopping carts.

Amazon Wish Lists: The Number of Books Matters

First, the key to finding the best prices is to create the most opportunities to score a great deal.  Many of you probably already have an Amazon Wish List (or two!) with a few titles of books you really want. That’s great. But if you want to find the best deals, you need to add lots of books to your Wish Lists – hundreds.  And it’s easy!

I typically have 2-300 books at any given time in my Wish Lists.  In fact, right now I have 18 different Lists.  Here are a few of my categories:

  • Arminian Theology
  • Reformed Theology / Calvinism
  • New Testament Commentaries
  • Old Testament Commentaries
  • Apologetics
  • Evangelism & Missions
  • Pastoral Leadership
  • Spiritual Growth
  • Church History
  • Philosophy / Western Culture
  • Marriage / Family
  • Hermeneutics
  • Etc.

Strategy in a Nutshell

Create a manageable number of Wish Lists to categorize your books, add hundreds of titles to your Lists – every book you might want to read or have in your library.  Then, every 2 weeks log into your account and skim through your Wish Lists looking for books with Used prices of $0.01 (there are usually lots of them at first!).  You’ll be surprised how many people will sell a book for $0.01 to make a couple dollars on shipping (which at Amazon is only $3.99 when buying from an Amazon partner).  Once you buy all of these you can begin “price shopping” – comparing the Amazon price to the Used price looking for the best deals.  I literally have shelves of books that I’ve purchased over the last few years for less than $2.00 – some that retailed for as much as $30.

Buy Used Books in “Very Good” or Better Condition

Everybody loves the feel of a new book – the stiff spine and crisp pages, but did you realize that a used copy of a book has the exact same words in it as a new one (assuming it’s the same edition)!  This was a revelation to me years ago as a poor Bible college student when I began buying used books.  On Amazon, I always get them in “Very Good” (or better yet “Like New”) condition.

Check out this example below:

Buy Used from Amazon

Check Out the Used Price for this Book!

Used Book from Amazon in Very Good Condition

Look at the Condition and Notes about the Book

Search the Seller’s Storefront

This is probably the most overlooked aspect of shopping for used books on Amazon.  I can’t tell you how many “extra” books I’ve found at great prices by drilling down to see what other books a particular seller has in their store.  For example, if I find a great deal on a used Tyndale New Testament Commentary, I will click through to the Seller’s Amazon store and search for other Tyndale commentaries.  Many times they are priced the same and I can snag those, too! This is easier if you’re looking for books in a series or books by a particular author.

Where to Find Good Book Lists

If you’re wondering, I developed my lists from several sources. Here are a few:

You can also visit sites like WTSBooks.com, Monergism Books, Reformation Heritage Books, Banner of Truth, P & R Publishing, Ligonier Ministries, Grace & Truth Books, etc. and look at their categories and recommended / top picks.

Ok, there you go!  I hope these tips are helpful.  Feel free to leave a comment below and let us know what deals you’ve found.  And if you have any other ideas on getting good books at great prices.