Be Money-Smart & Well-Read – Tips for Finding Cheap Books

book love

If you are a book nerd like me, this post is for you!  I’m an avid reader.  On average I finish about 2 or 3 books a month.  If I’m really on a roll or have a lot of free time, I have been known to read 2 or 3 books a week.  And I always have a book on me, either in my purse or in my car.  I’m sure all this reading makes my mom, a 30+ year veteran of English teaching, very proud; but every now and then I add up my book tab for the month and am blown away by the price.  Buying books is not cheap!!!  The average paperback is about $12.  Even if I was being a bad reader and only got 2 books a month for a year, that’s $288 (that’s more than one month’s car payment right there!).  2 books a week would cost me $1,192.

I know what you’re thinking . . . “Go to the library, dumby! The books there are free.”  And you would be right – getting a library card is the easiest way to save money on buying books.  Almost every town has a public library and getting a card is typically free for all residents.  BUT if you are a super-reader, the library might not always solve your book-buying problems.  For example, when new books come out, it often takes libraries a little while to get them.  So if you’ve been waiting months for the new “Immortal Instruments” or “Game of Thrones” book to come out, you might be too impatient to wait for your local library to get a copy.  In addition, the library can only get a certain number of copies, so if you need a book right away and someone else has it out, you are out of luck.  Or what if you are stuck at home/ work and need something to read right away or you will die of boredom!!!!!!!! Or maybe a book ended with a cliff hanger and you need the sequal ASAP so you can find out what happens next (can you tell this happens to me frequently?).  And finally, sometimes borrowing a book isn’t enough; if you love it enough, you might need to own it.  The point is, if the library can’t meet all of your book needs, there are still ways you can get books on the cheap.  You can feed your book addiction without breaking the bank.  Here’s what to do:

1. Get an E-Reader: The best things about e-readers is that you have access to thousands of titles 24/7.  So if you have a “reading emergency” and need a book right away, you don’t have to make a trip to the store or library.  You can get a traditional e-reader like the Kindle or Nook or just use the iBooks app on your iPad.  E-readers have 2 great benefits: 1. Classic novels are usually free.  Canonized titles like “Pride and Prejudice,” “Wuthering Heights,” or “the Scarlet Letter” don’t cost you a penny to download. So you can feel literary and money smart at the same time. 2. New books for sale in stores in hardcover only are available for less on e-readers.  For example, I am obsessed with the author David Sedaris.  He is the funniest man alive and it is my ultimate life goal to write a novel that is 1/100 as funny as his semi-autobiographies.  When his new book “Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls” came out last April, I was able to get it for $9.99 on my iPad.  In stores it was available in hardcover only for $24.99. I was too impatient to wait for the book to come out in paperback, but I still saved myself $15.

2. Hook Up Your E-Reader to Your Library’s Digital Collection: Most libraries now offer a “virtual collection.”  This means that they have electronic versions of books availble to download on your computer, e-reader, iPad, etc.  The only downside is you only have access to the book temporarily, so after 7-14 days it will disappear from your library.  Additionally, they can only allow so many downloads of a certain title at a time, so the book you want might not be available.  But if you are looking for a book on your e-reader, I reccommend checking if your library has a digital copy first.  If it’s available for free through the library, save yourself money on the download Next time you stop by, ask your librarian if they have a electronic library and how it works.

3. Search for Book Swaps: One cheap way to get new reading material is to trade good books with friends and family.  Your friends most likely have similar interests and taste in novels so it’s a great way to find new titles and save a buck.  My mom always says “never throw a book away” so trading with friends lightens your book load and helps you share stories you love.  In addition, check out if your community has a book swap program.  The non-profit Little Free Library puts up little mailboxes where people can take/leave a book for free across the U.S. (and the world!).  Take a peak to see if there’s a Little Free Library in your area by visiting their website or think about making one if there’s not.

4. Buy Used: Like most things, books are cheaper if they were “previously-loved.”  A lot of book stores (Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble) often have a section of pre-owned books for sale.  They tend to only put out books that are gently used (so you don’t have to worry about missing pages or scribbles in the margins) and they are a great steal at $2 – $4.  Another hidden source of books – yard sales!  People looking to declutter their houses often put out stacks of books at yard sales (especially children’s books their kids have outgrown).  The prices are often negotiable and you might find some oldies but goodies in the pile.

I hope these tips help keep your library big but inexpensive!

bode snugs

P.S. Here’s a cute pic of my lazy Sunday reading partner.  Bode might not do any reading himself, but he loves to snuggle up  to you while you enjoy a good book.  Warning – he is sort of a blanket hog and he snores 🙂 .


2 thoughts on “Be Money-Smart & Well-Read – Tips for Finding Cheap Books

  1. Another place to get books really cheap would be your local Bullmoose!!! I am a huge fan of Harlen Corben and he is constanly coming out with new books. I got most of his collection at bullmoose ranging from 2-9 dollars a book (gentley used)!!!! happy reading!

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