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Don't Go Broke Buying Those Books

Updated on January 17, 2023

Get More for Your Money

So you've just found out you need a book for that college class, or your child needs one for their class in school. Or maybe you're wanting that latest best seller on the New York Times list, or you want to start out that series you've been hearing so much about. Whatever the reason, at some time or another, most people end up in the market of book buying.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm a book lover! I love searching for them, buying them, reading them and yes, even smelling them (not the stinky ones!). I've easily bought hundreds of books and saved more money than that in the process. I cringe at the thought of paying retail, and avoid it at all costs.

I've learned how to increase my home library without breaking the bank. You can do it too!

You Want the Best Price Now

If there's a book (or two) you want quickly, Amazon and eBay are your friends. You can comparison shop for the same books; choose to buy new or used; get a good idea of the condition of the books; plus read up on what others have to say about both the book and the seller. Your purchases on both these sites are guaranteed and you can often find great deals on shipping, and have the option to get it faster.

Much of our book collection has come from this route. We've gotten books in "Like New" condition for a fraction of what it would cost at the book store. Not only that, but you can often get even the shipping free at certain times of the year or by signing up for memberships like the Amazon Prime (which usually offers a free trial). But even if you do have to shell out for the shipping, with many books going for as low as a penny, it's a bargain!

Don't Forget About Book Clubs

You may have seen the advertisements for various book clubs like Children's Book of the Month, Double Day, Science Fiction Book Club, etc and shunned them because of the high prices, but you can actually build up quite a collection for cheap by signing up for some of these. And no, they aren't paying me to say that, and there are some drawbacks to this route.

The enrollment deal is where you will save most of your money. Most will also offer you deeply discounted books (such as four for two dollars) if you will agree to buy a few books at regular price in the next year. Some will also offer you a chance to buy one of those books for a low price to count towards your enrollment agreement. Do it! It's a great deal and will help you come that much closer to fulfilling your commitment.

A few tips if you go this route:

Don't buy until they offer you both a great sale and free shipping. How I fulfill my commitment is by ordering when they do the buy one, get one free (so I pay regular price for the first book, which goes toward my commitment, but I get another book free at the same time), then I make sure I order enough to get the free shipping (usually $25) or I have a promo code for free shipping.

Make sure you email them to turn off the automatic shipments if you don't want them. They'll do it right away, and it will prevent you from receiving books you didn't want. But if you forget to do this, you can get your account credited back, and the return shipping for free by sending back the books unopened.

I usually sign up for two clubs around Christmas time, then when I reach my commitment, if I'm not seeing enough good deals, I'll cancel my membership and sign up again later on down the road to get the enrollment deal all over again. I've gotten great books for way cheap this way!

Thrift Shops

The thrift shop is a great place to buy books for often next to nothing. You can find old treasures, hard-to-find classics and even some of the the newer titles. You get to see the condition of the books first hand and get to take it home immediately after you pay for it. That's immediate gratification!

Trade for What You Want

There are several websites out there that will allow you to trade in your old books for ones you want. You can also list your books for sale on several websites (including Ebay, Half, and Amazon). I haven't done this myself, but I know people who have, and they seem quite happy with it. It's definitely worth checking into. One site I found that gives descriptions of several trading and selling book sites is Zenhabits (link included at the end of this article).

In going this route you can clear out books you don't plan to read again, make room for new books, and save or make money in the process. Sounds like a win-win!

You Can't Beat Free!

If you're really strapped for cash or just want to fill some time, check out your local library. There's often a waiting list for the books most in demand (such as the ones being used for classes or that best seller everyone is raving about), but if you're quick, you could get lucky.

If you know in advance that you're going to need a book, you can reserve it before you need it (and many libraries allow you to do this online). The only problem you may run into with this is if you get the book before you need it, or if you have to return it before you're done with it.

Still, the library is often where I find myself when I want to check out a book I'm not sure about, and I don't want to spend the money until I know if I'll like the writing style of the author. The selection is great and you don't have to pay a cent.

© 2010 Nellie Butler


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