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Acquiring Literature

A Brief Guide to Acquiring Books and Articles

Physical Books

I get my books online and at the cheapest second-hand prices whenever possible (depending on the book and its condition), mostly via Amazon, eBay, and AbeBooks. The books I buy are rarely those published very recently, and are generally one or more decades old; hence, they tend not to cost more than a few pounds each (most of which is the cost of postage!)

Digital Books & Scholarly Articles

When searching for a particular title, I often find that the digital copy (scanned) or the e-book version (digitized) is available online to download for free. I begin by searching the title and author, adding the following modifiers successively:

  • pdf – by searching the file type, I may find the book/article on any site that has it.
  • scribd(.com) – a site that hosts books, articles, and all manner of documents.
  • archive(.org) – the Internet Archive, which specializes in hosting classic books.
  • gutenberg(.org) – a free online digital library of classic books.
  • semantic scholar(.org) – a resource for scholarly articles.
  • academia(.edu) – a resource for academic articles.

All of the digital books listed in the Bibliography (those marked with a ‘[D]’) were found in one of the above ways, as were the pdf articles listed in separate pages.

Note: In many cases, paperback and hardback books I’ve purchased were available online for free in digital copy, but I specifically wanted them in hardcopy, which I much prefer to digital. Conversely, I’ve many times been very glad to find a downloadable copy of a book that was priced too high for me to purchase in hardcopy, especially considering that I purchase so many books.
  Factors of shelf space (which became stacking space!), price, type of content (e.g. illustrated or complex), commonality/obscurity of subject, and availability (i.e. options for physical and digital copies) are weighed to decide in what form to acquire a book. Overall, I’ve been able to get all the books I want most (and then some!) either in hardcopy or on the computer, each of which has its advantages and disadvantages.

Professional & Blog Articles

Professional journalism is plentiful online, although it generally takes some effort to find the best articles within an ocean of trivial ones. Additionally, the standards of blog articles are excellent nowadays, many of which I find to be useful (having discovered them whilst going through the search results on specific topics).

I also frequently search for specific analysis on films (or, occasionally, a mere explanation, i.e. when ‘What the f**k was that about!?’ happens): I simply search the title followed by ‘analysis’, then examine the results until I find at least one writer discussing it from the angle I’m looking for, or in a way I find thought-provoking (more often than not, I find too many! Damn bloggers!)

Looking for a specific book or article?

Should you have trouble finding a book or article I’ve referenced on the site, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

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