Sunday, March 12, 2006

Inexpensive Resources on Ebay

I know I keep plugging the need for teachers to be well-resourced, that is, to have solid Bible study and research tools at their fingertips. It's because I'm so passionate about responsible preparation and being faithful in our handling of God's word. In earlier posts I've encouraged every Bible study teacher or leader to possess at least the following:
  • a good study Bible (one with cross-references, footnotes, concordance, and maps)
  • an exhaustive concordance (based on the same translation the teacher uses most)
  • a Bible dictionary or Bible handbook
  • multiple translations of the Bible (or a parallel Bible)
  • a topical Bible (like a concordance but arranged by topic or subject)
  • a Bible atlas
And that's just the minimum.

I also know that accumulating this kind of library can be expensive, and I've suggested purchasing softward bundles (less expensive than books overall) or buying books through local discount warehouses or on sale at Christian Bood Distributors or to defray expenses. I've also mentioned several on-line tools available free of charge (see list of "Bible Study Tools" links in sidebar on right; click to your heart's content!).

And in one of my recent posts, I offhandedly mentioned eBay. Little did I know!

Yup. Now that I've entered the eBay underworld (it really has its own subculture), I have to say I'm thoroughly impressed. Every seller with whom I've done business has gone above and beyond the call of duty to get my books to me safely, in good condition, and in a decent amount of time. Ebay is a far greater resource for purchasing inexpensive study tools than I first imagined.

Random searches I did this morning at eBay yielded these finds:
  • an NIV exhaustive concordance (hardback) for 99 cents
  • a leather-bound John MacArthur study Bible for $2.99
  • a hardback NIV study Bible for $1.99
  • a Zondervan Illustrated Bible handbook (new, unused hardback) for $1.99
  • a new Zondervan Nave's topical Bible for 99 cents
  • several various Bibles translations (study Bibles and otherwise) for $2.00 or less
  • complete multi-volume hardcover commentary sets (by solid, reputable authors) from $20 to $130--all new, unused, in publisher's original packaging
If you'd like to see for yourself, go to eBay, and type in what you're looking for in the search box at the top right (search by title or general subject or author...doesn't matter). Some items located in your search will be up for auction (you can see how much time is left to bid) and others are "buy it now" offers (immediate transactions). Either way, you'll find boatloads of tools at reasonable, even less-than-reasonable, prices. You may have to search a bit, but the deals are there.

Having said that, keep these cautions in mind:

1. Check out the sellers' ratings first (before your bid or buy). Ebay's success is largely due to its seller/buyer feedback system (made public to all). Literally every buyer and every seller can leave feedback about their transaction experiences. Avoid those sellers with less-than-ideal ratings (read the comments left by other buyers to see what to expect).

2. Don't get caught up in the last minute bidding rush. Some items' prices skyrocket quickly in the last few minutes of an auction. Remember: if you see your desired item at eBay once, it will be there again. Almost guaranteed. Be patient, and you'll find what you want for the price you need.

3. If you don't want to risk losing the auction to another bidder, you can often find "buy it now" options on identical products offered by other sellers. You may pay a teensy bit more for that option, but some sellers just want to unload their goods.

4. Check the seller's location and shipping costs, too, before you bid or buy. Some offer flat rates; some offer media mail; some only offer more expensive Priority mail. It won't do you any good to get a great deal on the book cost, but then get overcharged on shipping. Most sellers list their shipping fees upfront, but some don't. If your item's seller hasn't listed shipping rates, e-mail the seller to ask about shipping fees before you buy or bid (this is standard protocol). If you're unsure, don't use that seller.

5. Make sure the photo you see in the item listing is of the product you're buying (or that the seller has clearly stated that the photo is only a stock photo and not of the actual product). Again, the seller's feeback ratings will alert you to any problem with misrepesentation, so this shouldn't be an issue.

6. Do your homework: know how much the item you're looking for costs at Amazon or CBD first, then see if you're getting a deal on eBay. Some things that look like deals aren't when you check out the competition. you have several ways to resource your teaching library for a relatively small expense. Think about it: for less than a trip to the movies or a stop at a fast food restaurant, you can purchase some solid Bible study tools to have at your fingertips. If you haven't done so already, start now, and add to your resources one book at a time.

You, and your students, will be better for the investment.

'Til next time,

1 comment:

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