Current example of such a question is Could I have purchased this Mongolian phrasebook while I was in Australia? As far as my understanding goes, it's asking whether it was possible to purchase a specific book in a specific country.

(The question that got me thinking was Looking for dead-tree Jules Verne books with Jules Férat's original engravings and a good translation.)

  • 3
    as I said in chat, I have mixed feelings about this. we've voted recommendations as off-topic here: meta.literature.stackexchange.com/questions/2/… however, I also feel that asking about translations for a specific book MIGHT be more on-topic.
    – DForck42
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 15:11
  • @DForck42 - yep Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 16:25
  • Would this be a better example of a shopping question?
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Jan 21, 2017 at 2:33
  • I'm dismayed that this discussion doesn't have any references to the Stack Exchange definitions of the topics being discussed.
    – BESW
    Commented Jan 21, 2017 at 2:37
  • Please don't call it a "shopping question", as it's confusingly similar to "shopping list question", which is is quite different from what's being asked about here. Commented Jan 21, 2017 at 2:42
  • @AndrewGrimm - any suggestions? Commented Jan 21, 2017 at 8:13
  • As BESW notes on that question, current example listed in this question isn't a shopping question - it's an availability question. I would recommend reading the shopping question meta link to better understand the distinction.
    – user80
    Commented Jan 21, 2017 at 8:18
  • @BESW Then why not post an answer yourself citing that meta post and/or the associated blog post(s)? :-)
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Jan 21, 2017 at 12:56

6 Answers 6



Generally SE is a not a good fit for recommendations. Pure shopping questions are even worse. The applicability of the answer for future readers is very doubtful. So let's not do that. I fully agree with the close voters and down voters.

  • What if I ask whether a translation or a fan translation is available? This is (or was) a legitimate question for the fans of the Witcher series, as the lates installments still haven't been officially translated. Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 15:14
  • @Gallifreian do you mean a question like "is there a translation of x in language y?"
    – DForck42
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 15:17
  • Yep, those. I think they might be ok. Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 15:19
  • @Gallifreian In case it matters, I got away with such a question on Mythology mythology.stackexchange.com/q/1013/197
    – b_jonas
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 15:21
  • @b_jonas, it's asking for a translation, which I advocated in my comment above Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 15:23


We all know the "where can I find x" becomes stale quickly. That doesn't fit the SE model at all. We are looking for information to be timeless ... to be relevant for perpetuity. You may be able to find x today, but tomorrow after someone has bought it, it's gone. How does that support this community or anyone who frequents it, other than the OP. In a thought, it doesn't.

  • "Becomes stale quickly"? The best partial answer I have so far is an edition from 1983, and I have reason to think that I'm looking mostly for books published before c. 2002 in this question.
    – b_jonas
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 15:27
  • 1
    @b_jonas - Not the point. If you are shopping, especially for any edition of a book, the particular information you might get today will be worthless tomorrow if someone actually purchases the book. You aren't going to find any books like you're suggesting in any quantity, so it's only going to be one which you'll find (or two) ... this information WILL NOT be useful in the future. Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 15:32
  • I'm not asking for information about where I can buy the book. I'm asking for which volumes or edition I should buy. A volume identified by eg. the name and location of its publisher and date of publication (or by an ISBN number for new enough books), and that information almost never changes. The information I gave in my partial answer would have helped me ten years before, so it didn't become obsolete, and I don't think it will become obsolete in the next ten years either.
    – b_jonas
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 15:35
  • @b_jonas - But that's what the topic of this Meta question is about ... Shopping. Not what you're asking about. Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 15:37
  • Maybe, but in that case you're answering a different question than Helmar did. @Gallifreian, could you perhaps clarify which of the two questions you want answered?
    – b_jonas
    Commented Jan 20, 2017 at 15:39

No. As others have said, such questions very quickly become stale. Asking about available translations of particular books might work, but this could become opinion-based. It must be possible to provide answers of lasting value to any question. For general where-to-buy questions, chat is the best option, imo. We could set up a dedicated chat room for this.



This site is for the study of literature, not for questions about the availability of certain books. These types of questions will generally help one person (the OP), and as such, aren't a great fit for the SE model.

  • Questions about availability of a translation seem to be on-topic. Commented Jan 21, 2017 at 14:58
  • @Gallifreyan I strongly oppose those as well, but I seem to be in the minority there.
    – fi12
    Commented Jan 21, 2017 at 15:04


The question is about literature.

The question is asking about an actual problem I'm facing. (The problem is that it's really inconvenient to read Michel Strogoff by flipping through two volumes at the same time, one for the text and one for the illustration. I've done that, but I'd really prefer an easier way.)

The question is specific enough. It's not a vague recommendation question where you have to guess what book will please me, I give specific criteria. If you have a volume in your hand, and you think it might be an answer for this question, you can tell whether it is by checking that it's a Hungarian translation of one of those novels, it is not any of the old translations I've identified, not an abridged edition half as long as the usual versions, and you can check that the illustrations are the ones I asked for by comparing them to the images I linked to.

I don't think the question has too many possible answers. I only need one good edition of each of the books, not a list of all printings.



The question is a actual problem with actual solutions. The question is objective in nature, not subjective (such as "what's a good book in category X?"). Other Stack Exchanges, such as the one for anime and manga, regard questions on how to obtain material as on-topic.

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