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I've lived in several cities in the past few years, and I've never been in a single one with public libraries that carry programming books. Oh, sure, they have Java for Dummies and Getting the Most from Photoshop, but not entries on "programming books every programmer should read" lists, like Code Complete or The Pragmatic Programmer. In some cases, I've even had a hard time finding such books in stock in bookstores. Where do you find your programming books?

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To be curious, where have you been where the bookstores have trouble getting specific in-print books for you? –  David Thornley Apr 7 '11 at 14:54
    
@David, that's bad wording on my part. I meant that they don't have them in stock, and at that point it's easier to just order online than to wait for the store to get a special order in. I've updated the question. –  Pops Apr 7 '11 at 18:56
    
You could also live a mile away from Powell's Technical Books in Portland, Oregon. Try that out. It's great. –  Rein Henrichs May 24 '11 at 20:02
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11 Answers

When I hear of a book I might be interested in, say mentioned here at SO or in a forum, I actually look for it at Amazon. You can often get very good deals on used books that way.

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Ugh, used books. I've sworn off of them. Based on conversations with friends, I know I'm the outlier, but every time I get a used book it's damaged or dirty or otherwise unpleasant. –  Pops Sep 24 '10 at 4:38
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The nice thing about amazon is the condition of the books are graded, and you can leave negative feedback if you get something worse off than the grade indicates. I've bought about 4 programming books from amazon this year (specifically, amazon associated sellers) and each one has been in good or excellent condition. And I got like $200 worth of books for under $40. –  GrandmasterB Sep 24 '10 at 4:45
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Amazon has also been known to sell new books, usually cheaper than you'd get them in a bricks-and-mortar store. –  David Thornley Oct 28 '10 at 17:48
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If it's not on amazon, there's a big chance it wasn't even written. –  Mahmoud Hossam Apr 7 '11 at 2:10
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Maybe I'm old fashioned or a sucker... but I can't do used books... that feeling of getting a new book and thinking "Look... no cracked spine, crisp pages... all that information is MINE, and NO-ONE has ever seen it! MUAHAHA!" - Of course, that's not entirely correct, I don't buy books unless they have good ratings on amazon... but it's still a nice feeling :) –  Steve Evers Apr 7 '11 at 4:10
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Another option is to go get a subscription to Safari Books Online, where for the price of one book a month, you can get unlimited access to the full text of thousands of programming (and other) books from publishers like O'Reilly, John Wiley & Sons, Addison-Wesley, and others. A great resource when you need to find something at 3 in the morning.

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Hey, that site! I saw their ad on SO a long time ago, but didn't click on it because I was at work, and I never got that ad again. +1 even though I'm a dead tree edition-loving Luddite. –  Pops Sep 24 '10 at 4:41
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+1 - Great for finding that book you need now. –  user1249 Apr 7 '11 at 20:38
    
They don't have all of the top books mentioned here and on stackoverflow, but they do have a LOT. I love my subscription. –  jmq Apr 7 '11 at 22:39
    
There's some chance you can get those through your public library (if you're in Burnaby, BC, you can and possibly other places) - for free. –  Guy Sirton May 25 '11 at 3:11
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My advice will be to read online, almost any programming book is available online, here is a list of hundreds of them:

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/194812/list-of-freely-available-programming-books

Also books that every programmer should read:

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/1711/what-is-the-single-most-influential-book-every-programmer-should-read

In my case i don't like reading on my desktop screen, if that happens to you too consider a reading device like a kindle.

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+1 for "free programming books" My first true "favorite" question! –  loyalpenguin Apr 7 '11 at 3:55
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I buy a lot of books - but unless it's a new release, I go to AbeBooks (they consolidate 100's of used book stores) - great deals, and I've never had a problem.

I hear good things about that Amazon company too - they may be around for a while :}

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I don't have the rep to rectify it myself, but you might want to cut the wwww's in that link to just three. Nice site, btw. +1 –  Rook Sep 24 '10 at 4:46
    
Thanks - link fixed and your comment upvoted! –  Alan Sep 24 '10 at 4:51
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Lots of good answers above. It is also worth checking eBay, I sometimes see new books on there cheaper than 2nd hand on Amazon. However, I usually find Amazon cheapest for second hand books.

Also worth a look at BookDepository for new books, they offer free worldwide delivery.

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If you're in India, these two are the best online bookstores - free shipping + a discount on most technical (and other books)

Amazon does not ship to India - except for some rare items, and the shipping prices are way too high.

Disclaimer : I'm not associated with any of them, just a very satisfied customer.

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Most libraries around the world participate in the Interlibrary Loan program, which lets them borrow books from any other participating library (including technical libraries, university libraries, even libraries in other countries) to loan to patrons.

If you just want to borrow a physical copy of a book to look at before making an online purchase, this might be your best bet. You can check at http://www.worldcat.org/ to see whether a particular book is available through this program.

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AddALL is a bookstore metasearcher which returns the lowest price available across all of the sites they search (both new and used).

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Half.com

If you don't mind used books. Sometimes you can find huge bargains on half.com, especially the books that have been published for a while.

For books you are not trying to get in a hurry you can add them to your wish list and set target prices.

Over the years I have bought many books from Amazon but even more from Half.

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Opamp Books in Los Angeles CA is an outstanding technical bookstore. They carry a fair selection of new books, and they tend to have just about anything you can imagine, from time to time, in their used book selection.

Best thing I ever found there was "Structured Programming", by Dahl, Dijkstra, and Hoare. (I couldn't believe it.) Next best was Kleinrock's 2-volume set on queuing theory, but they knew what that was actually worth, and I couldn't quite talk myself into it.

They have a web page, that is not useful for much except getting map and directions to the store, and emailing them to find out if they have a particular book.

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Get a kindle! Our store has about 950k books, that includes a lot of programming books too! http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=176060&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1565581&highlight= </shamelessplug>

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