Buying used books? Why not. It's a cheap way to afford a book not by its cover but its content.
Living in Indonesia, usually we are accustomed to buying brand new books, glossy cover, and white color paper. Although paper is cheap here, but sometimes we need to think about saving money as well as saving the earth. We are not ready yet for buying second products, books in this case.
Local produced books are always cheaper than imported books, but you only get about half the knowledge because local writers don't have time and effort to write hundreds of pages book. If they write 200+ pages, editor will kick their ass and ask them to trim into less than less than 100 pages. Yeah, thick books don't sell well in Indonesia.
For online book shopping, we can use Gramedia Online, pay with credit card or transfer, and it will be shipped within 3-4 days to any Indonesia address. This online stores in not comprehensive, not all titles available as they are available in Gramedia stores in malls.
Now, if you are interested in imported books (a.k.a English written books), the most famous one is Amazon.com. Not only they sell books, they sell everything from electronics to house related things. And may be you don't know this, Amazon also sells used items.
Just like this example, a brand new book of DK Eyewitness London is sold at USD 16.50, while used books (if available) can be purchased only with USD 5.00. That's a great saving!
Other website as alternative, I recommend buying from BetterWorldBooks.com. Visit their site and you'll know that you'll be taking part in saving our earth. This site is also selling used and new books, and can be shipped to any countries including Indonesia.
Shipping in Indonesia especially to Jakarta may be a problem for some websites. Some reported cases are the books not delivered to intended address because of our 'local friends' behaviour. But in general, you can choose range from DHL express to USPS Standard mail, they only different in shipping time not the quality.
Used books have many different conditions, depending their first owner carefulness. These can be categorized into: looks new, very good, good, or avarege. See each description from the seller website to make sure what you will expect. For example, a 'good' condition can mean "Former Library book. Shows some signs of wear, and may have some markings on the inside.".
The other thing to consider is about book edition, known as publishing date. Older books will be sold cheaper than newer ones, although they all are used books. For example, 2003 edition of travel books may be less than USD 5.00 but 2008 edition of used books will be about USD 8.00. Of course if you are not purchasing text books, this publishing date is very important, some pages are revised but what? that's it.
If you can compensate books' condition with their price, then you are ready to purchase used books. Just like me, I purchased these 2 books for a total of USD 8.56, while if I buy 'new' books those 2 will cost me about USD 50. I save more than 75%!