Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How to Build Your Library on a Budget

All of us readers dream about having expansive home libraries (my dream library includes one of those old rolling ladders!), but we must face the facts – it is expensive to be a book addict. There are hundreds of books that I feel I MUST own, but unfortunately I don’t have to money to run out and purchase them. So, I have been forced to become a thrifty book buyer and I have come across a number of different ways to find cheap books. I’ve compiled a list of places I usually shop and some tips and tricks for us budget-conscious book buyers. If you have another tip, trick or website that I don’t cover, please feel free to post it in the comment section!

Alright, so the first tip is to shop online. Now, I love to support local independent bookstores as much as the next person, but I just cannot pay $20 for every hardcover book.  There are a number of websites you can go to that give huge discounts for buying online. You can also find some excellent “bargain books” at most sites, which usually range from $1-$5. Here are a few website that I usually scour:  

  Amazon: Amazon usually has a great selection of bargain books and 4-for-3 books. But, what makes amazon a winner for me is the student program. If you are currently a college student (or have a college email account) you can sign up for Amazon Prime for free. What this means in a nutshell is… FREE 2 DAY SHIPPING. Anything that is sold through amazon is eligible to you for free shipping – there is no minimum amount. That means if you buy a bargain paperback for $2 on Monday, you get it by Wednesday for FREE. I also buy most of my new hardcover books from Amazon. They are usually marked down about 50% (somewhere around $10), which definitely beats paying full price in the store. 

Books-A-Million: Books-a-million also has some great markdowns, but their shipping, sadly, is not always free. If you spend $25, then it is. So, I only buy from them in bulk. I usually only buy their bargain books, but they always have a great selection. I picked up a number of popular YA titles (like the Mortal Instruments Series!!) for about $2 a book. Their adult bargain books are usually a bit more expensive and they don’t always have a lot of discounted urban fantasy titles. But, if you are persistent you will find some good deals. My favorite adult buy from them was Friday Night Bites by Chloe Neill – my brand new copy cost me a whopping $3.57. 

 Barnes & Noble (Online): Barnes and Noble also has a bargain book section and like books-a-million once you spend $25 your shipping is free. But I really get excited when they run one of their children’s book sales. Every once and a while put a HUGE number of children’s titles on sale. If you play your cards right you can really clean up. 

BookCloseouts.com: The last site that I buy from on a regular basis is Book-Closeouts. This site is my least favorite of the group, but once and a while you can really come across some great deals. Each month they run a different special - usually for a specific genre. They don’t get a lot of popular titles in stock, but sometimes you can really luck out. You just have to be willing to sort through all of their crap – which can be rather time consuming. 

Online Book Swaps: Now there are a number of different book swapping programs, but I use the Goodreads Book Swap. It’s easy and convenient and I like the setup. I don’t know how the other programs work, but in the Goodreads Bookswap you pay to have the books shipped to you. On average a book costs $3-$5 to ship. You can also request a set of books from a seller, that way you can save on shipping costs. 

Online Book Clubs:  You can also look into some of the different online book clubs. Depending on the type of books you read, you can find different clubs that will interest you. Normally they are all setup the same way, though. When you sign up you receive 4-5 books for anywhere between a penny and a dollar apiece. Then, within the next year you have to buy 3-5 books from the club. Now, this may not be what they intended, but I always work the system when I join a book club. I pick out the most expensive books on my list and get them for next to nothing. I got the hardcover editions of the Eragon series and omnibus versions of the LOTR, the Sookie Stackhouse novels, The Nightwalker series and the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I love buying bind-ups of books and a lot of times you can only get them through the book clubs. They also send out a lot of buy-one-get-one-free coupons and other discounts. (I am a member of Doubleday & The Literary Guild ... I am currently contemplating joining the Science Fiction Book Club!) 

Used Bookstores / Trade Stores: Another way to find some great deals is to pop into local used bookstores. A lot of times they will have a trade program where you can get credit for selling back your old books. I don’t ever really do this, but I still buy books from them. In my experience, most of the time books that are in great condition are priced at about 50% of the publishers’ price. Hardbacks are usually knocked down a bit from there. If you stop in at a few different stores you will quickly learn which ones are the best.  

Library Sales: Libraries have limited space, so they often have to make room for new books. Therefore, they usually have library sales to clean off their shelves. Each sale is run a bit differently, but most of the ones I’ve been to sell books by the bag. You can stuff a bag full of as many books as you want for an incredibly low price (usually between $3-$4 a bag!). I don’t know if this is always the case, but the libraries where I live also accept book donations from the community – so I’ve found a number of books in near perfect condition.  You should know though, sometimes when you buy actual library books they will have the clear plastic stuff on them still (I know, what amazing terminology). This stuff is a pain to remove from paperbacks, so I usually just leave it on. 

Thrift Stores: Like I said before, sometimes people give away books in excellent condition. If you have a chance to rifle through the shelves at a thrift store you just might find some new lovelies to take home. They are usually extremely cheap, because they are not priced individually. Every book is something like 25 cents apiece, so you can really luck out.
                  So, I hope this helped you guys out a bit, I know I am always looking for cheap ways to expand my library. Like I said before, if you have any other suggestions please post them in the comments! I’d love to hear them :)


                  Rubita said...

                  This is a great list. It covers all the places that I look for books on the cheap. I've never used the Goodreads bookswap service, but I have a list on Paperback Swap. On PBS, you when you ship a book to another member--but you pay nothing when you order a book. And I've never done it, but I know you can get an entire box of books.

                  I wanted to add that many (if not most) libraries have used book stalls and/or used bookstores that are open year round. It's a pretty common fundraiser by the Friends of the Library. They're nothing like those yearly sales, though. I get excited every May when I know my local branch is going to have theirs.

                  Tea and Tomes said...

                  Since becoming a bookblogger, I've found two awesome ways to get a lot of books for, well, absolutely nothing. The first is getting review copies of books, which may sound daunting to new bloggers, but sites like NetGalley.com have provided me with more reading material than I can probably get through in a year! So long as you don't mind e-books, NetGalley's great for building a library.

                  The second is ordering through Amazon with gift certificates I acquire from Swagbucks.com. Swagbucks is like a search engine, and every time you use it you have a chance to win points, which gradually accumulate until you can exchange them for other things. I spend mine on Amazon.ca gift certificates, save them up until I have enough to place an order with free shipping, and then buy the books I want. All it takes is time, and I have plenty of that. I don't have to spend a cent! I've ordered about $90 of books using this method in the past year alone, which just goes to show that it's not too shabby a deal!

                  I hear sites like BookMooch are pretty good, too, since one only has to pay for shipping. And I also check out thrift stores and library booksales whenever I can - I've found some wonderful books that way for prices I can't believe!

                  Patricia's Particularity said...

                  What a great post! I tried to convince my husband that one way to help my book spending is to give me an allowance each week to where I can only buy one book a week lol. But one of my new Year's Resolutions this year is to not buy as many books (there are a few that I have already pre-ordered and can't live without out of course lol). Its a good thing for me though his family are book lovers too and that is all we ever get eachother for gifts. I've been thinking about joining a book club too but am a little 'scared' to. We shall see. Great post!!

                  Jennie said...

                  Great post!

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