How To Pick Up Commentaries For Cheap

November 6, 2012 — 8 Comments


Part of building a theological library is trying to get resources cheaply. It probably goes without saying that if you’re starting out in ministry or you’re currently a seminary student, you don’t have a lot of disposable cash for buying books. Or, we could say you definitely do not have as much money in your book budget as you’d wish you did!

So, that being the case, I thought I’d share what I did to get several NICOT volumes on the cheap. It’s probably my favorite Old Testament commentary series, but it also one of the most expensive. Based on list price, here’s the rundown on the books pictured:

  • The Book of Jeremiah ($60.00)
  • The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah ($40.00)
  • The Book of Leviticus ($45.00)
  • The Books of Haggai and Malachi ($45.00)
  • The Books of Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah ($45.00)
  • The Books of Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, and Micah ($46.00)
  • The Book of Isaiah Chapters 1-39 ($58.00)
  • The Book of Deuteronomy ($45.00)

If you were to pay full list price for this stack of books, it would run you around $384.

However, most people don’t pay full list price, they either go to retailed like Amazon or a bookstore like Westminster. If you were to buy from Amazon, here’s the prices you’d get:

That would run a total of $266.67. Westminster is slightly better:

But still, you’re looking at $263.90.

Instead of all that, I chose to stalk Amazon’s used selection and my local (awesome) used bookstore. That bookstore, Brightlight Books, has a scaled discount system where books that have been there longer get progressively marked down.

When all was said and done, here’s what my price rundown was:

  • The Book of Jeremiah ($8.00)
  • The Books of Ezra and Nehemiah ($26.40)
  • The Book of Leviticus ($15.00)
  • The Books of Haggai and Malachi ($15.00)
  • The Books of Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah ($13.99)
  • The Books of Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, and Micah ($12.25)
  • The Book of Isaiah Chapters 1-39 ($17.49)
  • The Book of Deuteronomy ($19.99)

So, for a collection of used, yet brand new NICOT volumes, I paid a grand total of $128.12 over the past several months. By being patient, I was able to pick up several of the volumes at an already reduced used price, plus an additional 30% off (most recently, the volumes on Nahum et al, Joel et al, and Isaiah). I’ve got my eye on a few more, but I’m waiting for markdowns and for my book budget to be replenished.

I’ll certainly keep you posted as I get more, but what I’ve found is helpful is to decide what you want to get, and then patiently wait for a really great price. So far for me, it’s worked out really well!


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I'm an avid reader, musician, and high school Bible teacher living in central Florida. I have many paperback books and our house smells of rich glade air freshners. If you want to know more, then let's connect!

8 responses to How To Pick Up Commentaries For Cheap

  1. If you purchase NICOT and NICNT from Logos Bible Software, you can pick up the entire set with an average book price of $31.

    • I’ve thought about that, but I don’t necessarily want the whole series, and the individual title prices are more expensive than I can get them for used.

  2. Wow! I must say you got some great deals! I have been trying to do the same over the past few years. I have used the Amazon used site quite a lot and have really gotten some great deals. I recently found a used Christian bookstore just down the street from Denver Seminary here and I’ve gotten some great deals on some solid commentaries; most notably, the revised edition of Robert Mounce’s revelation commentary in the NICNT.

    • Sounds like you’ve got the setup kind of like I do (since this bookstore benefits from Reformed Theological Seminary). I’ve got my eye on Mounce’s Revelation commentary, but it’ll probably be a while before I pull the trigger!

  3. My city (Portland) sells off all their old library books and I have picked up some commentaries for around $1.50 each. Now these commentaries are usually commentaries like the Ancient Church Commentaries or something like that but two $40 commentaries for $3.00 is still pretty good. I recommend checking into what the local libraries do with their “retired” books.

  4. What do you think of the New American bible commentaries of the Old Testament? That’s the set I have .

    • I’ve found several of the useful, mainly in the Pentateuch and historical books. I have the complete set in Logos and it’s a pretty good overall buy for most people I think.

  5. I am not a pastor and i am not really an avid reader….I just love God and want to know all that I can know….So finding these at such great prices is such a blessing!

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