A penny is close to free,which is why I buy books on Amazon, where older cookbooks and out of fashion fiction can be had cheaply.
But since the bookseller must make a profit,even the most slender sized paperback costs $3.99 to ship,which brings a penny book up to four bucks even. I do not know what book rate shipping costs,but I do know it cannot be much, and one is not paying for speedy delivery. Penny books, and even not a penny books from third party sellers, ship on turtle time, and after a while one can feel like the young Ronnie Howard character in "The Music Man" awaiting the Wells Fargo wagon-
I could pay 11.99 and get my book shipped "free" on Amazon Prime, but a book is not an emergency ration. I should be able to wait. If I am inpatient I can track the order, and be comforted that three days ago the book landed in Little Rock, though no one knows where it is now.
Amazon Prime delivers in two days. Except when they don't, In November I ordered a cookbook about cast iron skillet baking. Two days later, according to my mailman, the book was in the mailbox.
But it wasn't. Not that day, not that week,not that month. I kept calling the post office, that most passive aggressive of government entities, and gave up after they told me to file a report. I suspected that my mailman had tossed the book into a ditch rather than deliver it to a deadbeat who was constantly receiving certified threat letters from the IRS.
One month to the day the cookbook had been stuffed into a phantom mailbox, the book showed up at my door. I guess that exonerates my mailman,who I really think should be grateful that he spends his days having something to deliver,since we all now know that Amazon is the only thing keeping the USPS in business.
Back to the difference between penny and free-
One can find free books in the discard bins at Mackay books, but who wants 20 year old math textbooks?
Estate and yard sales do not dare charge more than two or three dollars a book,so great is their horror at the prospect of the unsold-
And junk shops! One would think books one stop away from the landfill would be reasonable. Yet the other day, at The Little Thrift Shop here in Bellevue, a shop that is a towering pile of unknowable junk, they would not budge on a slightly mildewed copy of Ackroyd's 5 pound biography of Charles Dickens. " It cost me a dollar a pound,though they threw in the mold for free-