I love books and I especially love used books. I've discovered to my surprise that Ulaanbaatar has quite a lot of used bookshops.

But when I ask the price of a book it is always quite a bit higher than the price I've seen for the same book in shops that only sell them new.

So I know I have to bargain but I know it's possible to insult people in many cultures by offering too low a price. Also unlike in many countries, the seller never gets the haggling going if you start to walk away.

When I look this subject up on the web I read that haggling is not currently practiced in Mongolia with the exception of the Black Market. I don't think used books qualify as Black Market but I could be wrong. Rather I think the peope who authored those web pages did not take an interest in the secondhand bookshops.

What price to aim for after hearing the starting price? What first offer should be made?

For instance should I make a low first offer and expect the price to end up at about 50% Or should I start with a 50% offer and expect the final price to be around 75%? These tend to vary widely from country to country / culture to culture.

1 Answer 1


I have never been to Mongolia but I lived in China for a year and my technique worked pretty well. But as you said haggling is different from place to place. First I ask for the price and as usual the seller will tell you the price which is quite high because we're foreigners. What I do I will examine the thing I want to buy and how much I'm willing to pay without thinking about 50 or 70 percent. If I want to buy a book for 5 yuan i will stick to that and walk away, if I'm not prepared to pay higher price. It worked for me every time. They might make the face or even swear at you but you just have to get used to it. But you can't go lower than your original offer because if you do that it will be a big trouble and I learnt that the hard way.

It might apply to Mongolia but it worked for me the rest in China.

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