Buying Used Copies of Scholarly Texts and School Texts Online
You may be able to get a used 9th edition of the Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volume 1, by now because it's been out for a few years, but a new copy of the paperback lists at $55, and at the bookstore on campus it might cost you even more. (They charge more because their low volume brings in less revenue and lower quarterly profits.) However, online booksellers are a good alternative if you have time to wait for shipping. Used copies in "Good" condition (some highlighting or note taking) now (May 2014) are available for $34 at Amazon.com in "Used but acceptable" condition. Softcover (paperback) editions are much cheaper than hardcover editions, of course. They are lighter to carry, but the bindings deteriorate far more quickly than hard-cover copies. You pay your money and you take your choice. True English majors prefer hard cover texts because they intend to continue reading in the anthology for the rest of their lives, but also, in part, because handling the added weight constantly tones the upper body. Hardcover copies of the 8th edition are not uncommon in the used market for about the same price as new paperback 9th editions (ISBN-10: 039392713X / ISBN-13: 978-0393927139 ). If you are near any big college town in the summer before classes begin, check out the local used bookstores by phone and see what they've got. They're the key to preserving our stocks of affordable literature in an era when the IRS taxes backstocked print runs as if they were new and the marketplace tends to devalue used copies unless they are new.
Remember, you want the BIG anthology of early literature, not one of the several "period" volumes (e.g., Renaissance, Restoration, Sixteenth Century and Early Seventeenth Century). We are covering the literature from the tenth century (c. 900-1000) to the year 1700 (with a few authors publishing after that date). Even if you can get the smaller volumes more cheaply, the pagination will be wrong, and you may be missing works that are only in the larger anthology. The cover is depicts a Renaissance painting of Queen Elizabeth I in a fabulously expensive pearl-encrusted gown from the "Ditchley Portrait":
The safest way to identify it is by "ISBN": 0393912477 or "ISBN-13": 978-0393912470.
You also can scan online sites using ABE or Alibris. They give you access to catalogues of a large number of used bookstores around the world. You should check how much they'll charge you for shipping (typically $2.50 to $4.50 per volume for the first volume), but their price breaks are significant when compared with local branches of the national chains. You have to shop smartly, though--remember it's the 8th edition, published in 2006 . You'll see all seven other editions out there in vast numbers because the 8th has made them obsolete for most modern university courses (though why that should be is an interesting debate). Just don't get confused--it's not the "Major Authors" series or any of the other various Norton Anthologies--just "English Literature Volume One."