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I think treasuries don't make a lot of sense for the small individual investor, unless you have a specific long-term maturity target, as you can pick up an excellent alternative in US Savings bonds instead. Corporates are probably best dealt with through low-expense bond funds, since you will likely have trouble getting the diversification you need to obtain a reasonable amount of safety.

Most bonds are indeed not traded on an exchange, and you will have to call a broker to get pricing. Spreads depend on the specific issue and the broker you deal with, but I think a 2%-3% difference between bid/ask would be typical for popular issues in small quantities.
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