Three Money-Saving Strategies for Book Lovers
Happiness is a Full Bookshelf!
Finding Secondhand Books
Books can be expensive! Yet I manage to own plenty of books, both print and digital. I use a combination of money-saving strategies to find the used and new books I crave. Here they are:
Paperback Swap is my favorite. This website has a large membership, so the pool of available books is huge. The site has lots of convenient features, too. Create a wish list and get in line to request your favorite books as they are posted by other members. Search by title, author, subject or ISBN. Look at a map to see where you have shipped books and where your books have come from. I've traded with book lovers in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico from my North Carolina mailbox.
The process is simple. Post your available books. Every time a member requests a book and you send it to them, you receive a credit to use when you request a book from a member. Your only costs are postage to mail your unwanted books.
Through the wish list feature I've found some books I would never have found locally at my used book stores. I've also posted books I thought would not interest anyone else, only to have them snapped up almost immediately by a grateful member. The network is large enough to be really useful. Members also rate books and write reviews, so you can know what you are getting before you make your book requests.
This has been a great resource for my church library as well. It can be hard to find replacements for some out-of-print library books, but Paperback Swap has come through for me several times. You can subscribe to a daily "wish list" email to see what other members are looking for.
Ed McKay's is a great resource for readers in North Carolina. With four locations in central North Carolina, this chain has been around for decades. I have gone to the Greensboro location for over twenty years and enjoyed friendly service as I traded my used books for "new" books, music, and movies. Ed's is a favorite place for area homeschoolers and the local college students, since they carry textbooks for the local universities and have a large selection of educational resources.
Wherever you live, seek out the used book stores. Get to know the staff and become a favorite customer. If you are looking for something special, they may be able to help you.
Goodwill and other thrift stores are sometimes a source for books, although it is through serendipity rather than design. Occasionally someone will unload a box of wonderful books, but the selection is generally not inspiring. I will sometimes find a book, however, that I know is on somebody's Paperback Swap wish list. I pick up the book for a dollar, post it, and mail it to a member for credit toward a book I want.
Bibliophiles will always find a way to get the best reading matter. Finding used book values is good for your mind, good for your wallet, and good for the environment. Compile a list of books you want to read, then see how many you can acquire for less than retail. Try these strategies yourself and let me know if you find any amazing deals.
Four More Strategies
1. Review Books and keep them for your home, school or church library. This is the best way I've found to get brand new books for free. Sometimes I even get Advance Reader Copies (ARCs), which come out before a book is officially available for sale. ARCs can't be swapped or sold, but they allow one to be among the first to read a new book.
2. Support your local library's Friends of the Library book sale. Get books for your home library while helping the public library get new books for you to borrow.
3. Get a Kindle and take advantage of weekly offers of free books. Some of the self-published Kindle books are really goo, but you will never know about them unless you take a look!
4. Check out the free books category on Smashwords for free e-books in multiple formats. "Buy" the books and you access every format the author created: online reading, E-Pub, Mobi, PDF for printing and more. Even if you have an older e-reader, Smashwords offers books in a format you can use. There are plenty of books for 99 cents, too.