How to Find Books
We get a lot of requests as to how to find books.
Since you can't order books
from this site directly, this page shares
some of our knowledge and some hints about how to find books
on the Internet and beyond.
Electronic Books on the Internet
The complete text of the book you are looking
for may be on the Internet, just a few mouse clicks away.
If it is, you can find it using these two sites:
The Online Books Page. This site, which is regularly
updated, is a comprehensive index of etexts which are in the
public domain, complete, and freely available.
is the original volunteer-based etext project. Thousands of high quality,
public domain etexts are available through through this site
and its mirror sites.
If the book isn't listed at Online Books or Project Gutenberg,
an etext may turn up through a Wikipedia external link, or by a Google search.
But these will generally be lower quality or less reliable transcriptions.
Checking Copyrights Online
Since the purpose of this site is to locate and scan public domain books,
checking the US copyright status is crucial.
A great resource to check all Class A (book) renewals published between 1923 and 1963 (inclusive):
The Copyright Renewal Database
If a book (or any other copyrightable item) was published after 1950, you can also search the US Copyright office records directly:
The US Copyright office
Please Visit the Sacred Texts Bookstore
at Amazon.com. By purchasing books through this
link you will support this continuing work of this site.
Amazon will also allow you to quickly determine whether a
given book is in print, and in some cases whether it is
available on the used market.
Used Books on the Internet
If the book isn't at Amazon, it may be available used.
These are the two best used book sites on the Internet.
Often the book you're looking for isn't online or in print, or available at a
Then it's time to try the libraries.
We started this site from books checked out from the University of California
at Santa Cruz library, although lately many of the books have been
acquired by Interlibrary Loan through the Santa Cruz Public Library system.
If you go the Interlibrary Loan route, you'll first want to establish that
the book exists in one or more libraries.
The Interlibrary Loan staff appreciates it if you walk up with a printout
referencing the book you're looking for--this shows that you've done your
homework and saves them a bit of work.
So you'll want to check the major online library catalogs.
One of the best catalogs on the web is
the MELVYL catalog at the University of California (melvyl.cdlib.org).
The UC system has one of the largest collections in the world,
and certainly one of the best and easiest to use interactive catalogs around.
If the book can't be found in MELVYL, then the other place I check is
the Library of Congress.
This isn't as feature-rich as MELVYL, but there are often additional
editions listed in it that will confirm the existence of a book or
earlier editions than MELVYL, so it's worth searching.
Also worth a look is the
this is the online catalog (or catalogue, in 'British') for one of the
oldest and richly stocked libraries in the world.
If a book can't be found in the above three catalogs,
there is a strong chance that it simply doesn't exist.
If you live in California, or are visiting, some of the UC libraries
(notably UCLA and UC Santa Cruz)
have open stacks; this means anyone can walk in off the street and
use the library, you don't have to be a student, faculty member or alumni.
Even if you don't live in California, searching the UC catalog may
turn up valuable bibliographic information about the book.
If you are an alumni of the UC, consider joining your Alumni
association; it's cheap and you also get a library card.
For fun, look up 'Necronomicon' in MELVYL.
You may be surprised at what you find.
Used and Independent Bookstores
We also encourage you to patronize used and independent bookstores.
The book you're probably searching for
very rarely shows up at the big chains.
The minimum wage chain store clerk will probably
look at you like you're an alien and charge you
a stiff premium for special orders.
If you ask for books about magic
they'll probably point you to a big hulking stack of
Harry Potter books.
The big chains are driving the smaller bookstores out of business,
and the result is less diversity and higher prices for books.
You'll have much better luck if you patronize the independent,
speciality and used stores. This is because the books at these
stores are stocked by people who care about books,
not by bean counters from an inventory
list which overweights the New York Times bestseller list.
Here in Santa Cruz, the whole town is book-crazy.
There are three big bookstores, and a dozen small ones.
If you live here, you already know about these stores.
If you visit Santa Cruz, we recommend you take a look at
these stores. If you love books as much as we do, you may want
to move here!
Here are four of our favorites, two of which have active websites.
All addresses with the exception of Gateways Books are Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Bookshop Santa Cruz
1520 Pacific Ave.
This is the oldest major bookstore in Santa Cruz.
It's fiercely independent and has great atmosphere.
1117 Pacific Ave.
The largest used bookstore for miles around; a very magical bookstore,
and living proof that chaos theory works.
Logos' basement stacks have provided much of the raw material
for sacred-texts which we didn't check out of
UC Santa Cruz or other libraries.
I'm there practically every day.
1126 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95062
This is one of the largest metaphysical bookstores on the west coast,
you can often find quality used books here as well.
Gateways is run by a local Yoga Center, but gives equal time to
all belief systems, including Wicca, Buddhism, Christianity and so on.
The Literary Guillotine
204 Locust St.
This is a small used bookstore which specializes in academic books.
It is crammed to the ceiling with obscure and scholarly books.
Hint: The owner (who is there nearly every day)
has an encyclopedic knowledge of obscure books and can
do offline used searches, so don't be afraid to chat him up.