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Where to buy Oxford Classical Texts?

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Where to buy Oxford Classical Texts?

Postby LCN » Sat Oct 15, 2011 5:58 am

I would like a to purchase a number of OCTs and was wondering if there is an online seller that sells them more cheaply than others.

I have checked the used sales service on Amazon but prices are often the same as for new texts, or only slightly cheaper.

I would actually be willing to travel within the US if there is a used bookstore somewhere with a large variety of these that sells them for half price. Unlikely I suppose.
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Re: Where to buy Oxford Classical Texts?

Postby Westcott » Fri Nov 04, 2011 6:47 am

I know of a number of bookshops in the UK that specialize in classics, but you can find their books on larger sites. My favorite for academc books is vialibri, which searches 50 sites including abe, amazon, etc. Their search engine isn't as nicely refined as some others, though, if you only wanted to search US shops, etc. Happy hunting!
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Re: Where to buy Oxford Classical Texts?

Postby Polyidos » Sun Nov 06, 2011 3:38 am

I can't say that I know of booksellers who sell OCT titles at substantial discounts but there are several book search aggregators, in addition to vialibre, that might help out. I have used bookfinder.com, biblio.com. and choosebooks.com (now ZVAB.com). Each search engine accesses many dozens of other sites. Of course, they might not show every possible match at every site so you sometimes have to be persistent to find a decent price on a copy in a decent condition if you choose to buy a "used" copy. (Some of them are ex libris and are actually in great shape, others were privately owned and are in terrible condition.)

I will say that the prices listed for new copies at OUP's website are unbelievably high at the moment. While used copies listed on Amazon can be relative bargains, I would certainly advise you to use some of the other book search sites to be sure that you really getting "value for money", as the Brits say.

I will say that sometimes, OUP does have sales on these titles, even new editions, so if you are not on their mailing list for their Classical Studies catalogs, I would certainly suggest signing up.
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Re: Where to buy Oxford Classical Texts?

Postby Scribo » Sun Nov 06, 2011 2:50 pm

I'm a student at Oxford, Even with my meagre discount card (I get 15% off from the OUP shop or I can aggregate discount points from blackwells) the price of these things are insane.

This term for example I'm required to get through the Odyssey (2) the Hymns and the cyclic fragments (1) and Hesiod's Erga (1) which comes to £80 if I want to actually own the texts. Thankfully my college library isn't that bad and I already own all 5 Homer texts but...Mithra!

Gone are the days of being given photocopies by one's tutor, it seems.
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Re: Where to buy Oxford Classical Texts?

Postby zamer9876 » Fri Nov 11, 2011 1:17 pm

I also have problems in finding a good Oxford Classical Texts in my country. I'm from Malaysia. I can't find it in my popular book store. The only place I can find it is through Amazon. I have no option than that. I just buy the The Oxford Classical Dictionary by Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth. and the shipping require more than 10 days to arrive at my place.
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Re: Where to buy Oxford Classical Texts?

Postby pster » Wed Nov 16, 2011 6:48 am

Well, I perhaps have more flexibility than others, but I have been able to find pretty good deals on most of my Greek texts. There is much more than just amazon. You need to take advantage of the different amazons, amazon.fr being a fair bit different from amazon.co.uk. And there are different abebooks (abebooks.com, abebooks.co.uk, abebooks.de, etc), and abebooks is better overall than amazon. Then there is alibris.com, antikvariat.se, ebay.it, ebay.fr, etc, etc. And there are big disparities.

For example, Homer Opera IV new for $50:
http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/? ... =relevancy

But new on abebooks.fr for 18EUR with free shipping to UK:
http://www.abebooks.fr/servlet/SearchRe ... =t&x=0&y=0

What I suggest is:

1) Figure out early what books you will need,

2) Figure out how flexible you are with respect to editions,

3) Get the ISBN numbers,

4) Search all the sites you can think of. And save those searches right after you do them on your menu bar in a folder browser depending.

5) You can then run those searches every so often in a matter of seconds.

6) You can score some sweet deals that way. If you want the Hornblower commentaries for Thucydides, you will have to pay. But recently I got a Weil Polybius VI (Les Belles Lettres, French) ex-library (somewhere in Wales) hardcover, probably never checked out, great condition for about $10, where new would have been closer to $50, and it is arguably the best version available, only competitor being a much older Teubner.

It is supply and demand, and there is not great demand for classics texts especially if it happens to be a Teubner in South Carolina (hint, hint ).

And hell, sometimes you can just print out a nice GFS Porson fonted version from the web and console yourself that you have nice big beautiful font to read and big margins to fill with all your profound insights. Actually, I am rather horrified by the smallish fonts that seem to be used in just about all Greek texts, and I may just switch to printouts and ring binders in the not too distant future; I am not happy when I can't make out the breathing mark under a circumflex. (Does anybody else have this problem??)

I'm not a student, so I'm not sure how helpful this is to all of you, but I more or less refuse to spend much on a Greek book anymore for the simple reason that if a book costs $30, I can probably find three that are just as good for $10, I'll read the three Demosthenes now, wait on the one Xenophon. The texts are thousands of years old, the best scholarship was done over 100 years ago, we are well into the public domain for the most part, I would try to avoid blowing money on Greek texts unless it is some version you absolutely have to have.
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Re: Where to buy Oxford Classical Texts?

Postby lusomenos » Sat Jan 17, 2015 2:24 am

pster wrote:The texts are thousands of years old, the best scholarship was done over 100 years ago, we are well into the public domain for the most part, I would try to avoid blowing money on Greek texts unless it is some version you absolutely have to have.


But they look so awesome and it's nice to be able to peruse them without library pressure and to refer to them when writing :)

There is something I really like about the OCT editions. For one, I think having only the Greek makes a person read the Greek very thoroughly. Often, when reading a few of the Loeb editions I have, I find my eye wandering back and forth from the English. It is essentially a distraction (i.e one is curious to see how a sentence has been translated), even if it is helpful with tricky bits and can save a lot of time. I really like the Loebs and think they are great, but there is a time when one comes to detest translations from ANY language and when the apparatus becomes crucial for reading a text (e.g French translations make me sick now, especially for instance when Flaubert and Maupassant are translated into the same flat-economical-academic English; another instance is when Herodotus and Thucydides are translated in much the same way). I still enjoy reading the Loebs I have; but I won't buy any more unless I absolutely have to (e.g. the author isn't in either OCT or Clarendon Text and Commentaries editions-[Teubners are way too expensive for me - almost $160 AUS for a single volume!]). De Gruyter is another publishing house that is just becoming insanely expensive (I was looking yesterday at the forthcoming edition of Scholia ad Thucydidem-about $450 AUS dollars! To be fair it is about 1000 pages...but still) A year ago I would have overwhelmingly preferred a Loeb over an OCT edition. But now I would overwhelmingly prefer the OCT over the Loeb. I just wish the OCTs weren't so darn expensive. One OCT edition is about the cost of three Loeb volumes at the moment (and I live in Aus so postal charge is big factor)...I suppose we should just be thankful that OCTs haven't hit the price of Teubners yet.

I agree, though, that one should only get the books one absolutely needs. At the moment I find the up-to-date apparatus and critical notes with addenda and corrigenda and manuscript discussion really important. While I could get the main Greek text for most of these works online, it's very difficult to find all those critical notes online. It's even more awkward when the critical apparatus isn't aligned to each page. But the up-to-date factor is crucial. As an example, the old (1890s) Teubner edition of Musici Scriptores Graeci is only 70 pages. The most recent (2011) version is over 500 pages, and has a whole heap of up-to-date info on the subject. I guess it's worth looking at it from the view that it's the recent scholarship you are paying for (even if everyone knows this is untrue...) rather than merely the 'Greek text', since the 'definitive' greek text of works seems often to be disputed (except in the case of some works). Usually the online versions are old and out of date if you're trying to do academic analysis of the text you are reading.

I suppose I would say only buy the texts you know you will read over and over and refer to time and time again (e.g if history is your thing, like it is mine, I have no hesitation buying the Thucydides and Herodotus OCTs, and I'm currently thinking of getting the Tacitus and Livy as well). But if you get one because you want to read a single speech from Demosthenes, and you fork out that $80AUS for the OCT, and you never read any of the other speeches or that single speech again, then you have wasted your money. So I guess it's a matter of planning and knowing what you need and what edition will serve you well.

The other point to make is that it often depends on the particular edition of an author. Apparently the new Loeb edition of Plotinus is really great (and also the first excellent/full translation in ages and ages) and by a leading scholar of Plotinus. So that might be a good Loeb choice. But there are also some terrible Loeb editions with horrid translations and textual choices. blah. Try to find reviews of each text you think of buying. I have a really crappy Loeb edition of Marcus Aurelius which I regret buying. It taught me a lesson, at least!
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Re: Where to buy Oxford Classical Texts?

Postby Qimmik » Sat Jan 17, 2015 3:02 am

The newer Loebs are uniformly excellent, some are as good as or better than OCTs although they have less extensive critical notes. Some of the older Loebs are very good, but some are horrid. De Gruyter now owns the Teubneriana series. A number of standard authors in soft-bound editions are reasonably priced.
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Re: Where to buy Oxford Classical Texts?

Postby lusomenos » Sat Jan 17, 2015 3:23 am

Qimmik wrote:The newer Loebs are uniformly excellent, some are as good as or better than OCTs although they have less extensive critical notes. Some of the older Loebs are very good, but some are horrid. De Gruyter now owns the Teubneriana series. A number of standard authors in soft-bound editions are reasonably priced.


I don't know why De Gruyter have to charge so much for their books. I know the production quality is excellent (I have some hardcover German books from them) as well as the scholarship, but I think they'd get huge business if they charged a bit less. I guess they're aiming more for the library market?

Ye I agree some of the recent Loebs are really great, and the translations are so much better than they used to be. I was just making the point above that when ordering Loebs you have to be careful you're getting a recent edition/translation and just check that it's all good before buying. Case in point was the Marcus Aurelius edition of which I was speaking- it still used 'thee' and 'thou' and lots of archaisms, even though it was a second edition. The only problem is that some journals don't really accept using Loebs as the critical texts to which an author can refer...I think things are changing, though, especially with the recent editions.

By the way, do you happen to know much about the new 'online Loebs' development ? I have heard they were doing it and that subscription would be relatively cheap compared to buying hardcopies. It said somewhere that it was $150 for the first year then $50 for all subsequent years. Sounds like a really good deal (and I am someone who much prefers hard/physical copies of books) since it is full access to their entire library.
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Re: Where to buy Oxford Classical Texts?

Postby Victor » Sat Jan 17, 2015 11:22 pm

lusomenos wrote:I know the production quality is excellent (I have some hardcover German books from them)

I'm not sure what you're basing that on. I have a dozen or so de Gruyter publications (both soft and hardback) and they are all merely adhesive bound, not sewn, and covered in paper rather than cloth. De Gruyter deserve no praise for their cost cutting on the production side.
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Re: Where to buy Oxford Classical Texts?

Postby lusomenos » Sun Jan 18, 2015 12:46 am

Victor wrote:
lusomenos wrote:I know the production quality is excellent (I have some hardcover German books from them)

I'm not sure what you're basing that on. I have a dozen or so de Gruyter publications (both soft and hardback) and they are all merely adhesive bound, not sewn, and covered in paper rather than cloth. De Gruyter deserve no praise for their cost cutting on the production side.


Really? I will withdraw my statement about production quality then. It must only be true of the particular editions I bought (I should add they were all by the same author and part of a larger collection), which were sewn and covered in cloth.

Oh I know why this might be the case - I just remembered that the volumes I bought were old-ish (maybe 80s?). I bought them untouched and still in their plastic wrapping from a German antiquarian bookstore. You're right - I wouldn't be surprised if the production quality has deteriorated a great deal since they were published. It seems to have happened everywhere else.

Sorry, when I wrote the above I completely forgot that I bought them second hand.

Yes, if they've cut production quality a lot since then you're right, they really don't deserve any praise.

Such a pity though - the books they used to put out are so beautiful in every way.
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Re: Where to buy Oxford Classical Texts?

Postby Ahab » Sun Jan 18, 2015 1:28 pm

I usually buy their ebook editions when I purchase from de Gruyter. However, the paper editions I have received from them have in general been of very good quality. Of course, that doesn't negate Victor's point that there has been a decline in their production quality.

I am, however, somewhat irked by their treatment of West's Ilias. They only offer the first volume as an ebook. Have had to scan in the second volume. My old eyes simply cannot make out some of the small print in that work. I need to be able to enlarge the text.
Why, he's at worst your poet who sings how Greeks
That never were, in Troy which never was,
Did this or the other impossible great thing!
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Re: Where to buy Oxford Classical Texts?

Postby Paul Derouda » Sun Jan 18, 2015 4:05 pm

Ahab wrote:I am, however, somewhat irked by their treatment of West's Ilias. They only offer the first volume as an ebook. Have had to scan in the second volume. My old eyes simply cannot make out some of the small print in that work. I need to be able to enlarge the text.

I destroyed my first paperback copy of Ilias vol 1 by spilling (lots of) coffee on it (and mishandled it in many other ways, too...). I ordered a new hardback copy, and the print quality is clearly worse. The letters are a bit thicker and blurrier, when I compare it to my first copy or to vol 2. I suspect the newer impressions are based on scans of the original work, which is strange, as you'd suppose a work from 1999 was a computer file in the first place. Or are the newer impressions only printed on demand? That would also explain the drop in print quality.
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Re: Where to buy Oxford Classical Texts?

Postby Victor » Mon Jan 19, 2015 1:55 am

lusomenos wrote: It must only be true of the particular editions I bought (I should add they were all by the same author and part of a larger collection), which were sewn and covered in cloth.

Oh I know why this might be the case - I just remembered that the volumes I bought were old-ish (maybe 80s?). I bought them untouched and still in their plastic wrapping from a German antiquarian bookstore. You're right - I wouldn't be surprised if the production quality has deteriorated a great deal since they were published. It seems to have happened everywhere else.

Sorry, when I wrote the above I completely forgot that I bought them second hand.

Yes, if they've cut production quality a lot since then you're right, they really don't deserve any praise.

Such a pity though - the books they used to put out are so beautiful in every way.

Many thanks for your response, Lusomenos - a more gracious one than my abrupt rejoinder probably merited!

A typical example of De Gruyter quality today is the series New Perspectives on Historical Latin Syntax, by Baldi/Cuzzolin, each volume of which retails at well over £100. They are adhesive bound, paper covered hardbacks. The book-blocks (i.e. the pages collectively) of two of the four volumes that have passed through my hands started to separate into their constituent single sheets by the time I had finished reading them.

The cost saving of an adhesive bound book (officially and ironically known in the trade as a "perfect binding") over a machine-sewn book is probably not more than a pound or two, but it is a cost saving that more and more publishers are justifying making. When short-run, high-priced books such as Baldi/Cuzzolin also get perfect bound, you can't help feeling that things have been taken too far.
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Re: Where to buy Oxford Classical Texts?

Postby Victor » Mon Jan 19, 2015 2:05 am

Paul Derouda wrote:
Ahab wrote: Or are the newer impressions only printed on demand?

In some cases at least the answer, regrettably, is yes:
https://wordery.com/ilias-vol-i-cb-home ... 3598714306
(see the second line of blue writing under the price)

This is another one I acquired recently that got the POD treatment:
https://wordery.com/ancient-greek-schol ... 0195312935
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Re: Where to buy Oxford Classical Texts?

Postby lusomenos » Mon Jan 19, 2015 5:15 am

Victor wrote:
lusomenos wrote: It must only be true of the particular editions I bought (I should add they were all by the same author and part of a larger collection), which were sewn and covered in cloth.

Oh I know why this might be the case - I just remembered that the volumes I bought were old-ish (maybe 80s?). I bought them untouched and still in their plastic wrapping from a German antiquarian bookstore. You're right - I wouldn't be surprised if the production quality has deteriorated a great deal since they were published. It seems to have happened everywhere else.

Sorry, when I wrote the above I completely forgot that I bought them second hand.

Yes, if they've cut production quality a lot since then you're right, they really don't deserve any praise.

Such a pity though - the books they used to put out are so beautiful in every way.

Many thanks for your response, Lusomenos - a more gracious one than my abrupt rejoinder probably merited!

A typical example of De Gruyter quality today is the series New Perspectives on Historical Latin Syntax, by Baldi/Cuzzolin, each volume of which retails at well over £100. They are adhesive bound, paper covered hardbacks. The book-blocks (i.e. the pages collectively) of two of the four volumes that have passed through my hands started to separate into their constituent single sheets by the time I had finished reading them.

The cost saving of an adhesive bound book (officially and ironically known in the trade as a "perfect binding") over a machine-sewn book is probably not more than a pound or two, but it is a cost saving that more and more publishers are justifying making. When short-run, high-priced books such as Baldi/Cuzzolin also get perfect bound, you can't help feeling that things have been taken too far.


I just don't understand why publishers are constantly finding new ways to make books on the cheap without caring two shreds about quality. As you say, they are only saving a small amount of money. For instance, I don't understand why De Gruyter usually charge the same amount for an ebook/pdf as they do for a printed hardcover version. I would happily pay up to $50 for a very important up-to-date volume if I could get it for that amount via pdf (especially since the hardcover quality is going down the drain at the moment) and could find it nowhere else (and this is from someone who usually HATES ebooks...). But I would never pay $160 for a pdf. No wonder more and more people are turning to downloading books 'illegally' on the internet.

The quality is becoming abysmal across the board (and if the quality were still very good, I would be happier paying the amount some of these publishers charge: when you pay over $150 for a book, you expect it to be of high quality). Recently for my birthday I received the new-ish Cambridge History of Byzantium - an important work that I needed to have. I have only read specific bits of it for short periods so far. And yet the binding is already bent, it doesn't open flat on a table, the pages are abysmally thin, and, what's more, it still stinks of plastic (I have had it about 4 months already). Contrast this with some old Cambridge Ancient History volumes I have collected over time (and some of which were bought by my parents years and years ago). They are beautiful. Open flat on a desk. Are printed on lovely thick/strong paper. Are easy to read. The font is large and clear. There is no issue with the binding. In short, the new volumes feel like they could break at any moment; whereas I can't see the old volumes ever breaking.

It's a pity about De Gruyter. I only have those German books from them. Until you said about their current low quality, I still thought that De Gruyter must be the only really top notch publisher around still committed to old-fashioned production (and so I respected their exorbitant prices-but I haven't yet bought any books from them directly).

I also looked at what those German books would cost today (on the De Gruyter website). I almost couldn't believe what I read. To buy one volume from that series (a Kritische Gesamtausgabe) would now set me back almost $250 AUS. I recall that they cost me 30 euros each. I don't know how they justify that charge since the editions are almost 40 years old...but hey, who knows.

At least Oxford/Clarendon seems to be OK and not TOO pricey (that is, not on the same level as De Gruyter). The OCTs are JUST within the reach of a student. We can only hope Clarendon doesn't start charging $150 for each volume.
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