It’s no secret that I think reading is an incredible hobby. Unfortunately, reading can also be an incredibly expensive hobby. New release books cost about $20 and paperback copies of older releases can still be $10-$15 if bought new from a bookstore. Let’s not even talk about the price of eReaders/tablets and $5-$10 per eBook.
That’s why I’m going to give my readers five ways they can save money when buying books. This list will focus on procuring physical copy books, but there is one small tip for those who prefer eBooks.
First, let’s start with the most obvious solution…
Okay, okay… you probably already visit your local public library to check out all the latest tomes. However, libraries can be so much more than checking out books. Some public libraries are also a good source for cheap used books. Others may provide a station to bring in old paperbacks (especially romance novels) and trade them out for “new” (to you anyway) ones. Also, it shouldn’t be forgotten that many libraries now offer eBook check outs, allowing patrons to “visit” their branch and download books to their Kindles or iPads without ever leaving home.
One big tip for those whose local library is less than stellar: if you are willing to travel a little bit, some libraries will let out-of-county residents get a library card for an annual fee. While this may seem to be an extreme measure, the benefits can be worth it. My wife and I personally have a membership with a library an hour away from us. However, this allows us access to one of the biggest book collections in the state, an incredible eBook selection, a large Blu-Ray/DVD library, a music streaming service, six free song downloads a week (permanent, legal downloads!), and even a movie streaming service. Sometimes, those extra fees and gas can be more economical in the end.
If the local library isn’t enough, maybe another kind of “Library” can help…
Little Free Libraries
If you haven’t seen one of these wonders pop up in your area, you probably soon will. The Little Free Library movement is sweeping the country (and the world), promoting “literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide.” People, possibly in your neighborhood, are building and displaying book receptacles, filling them with their own personal collection. Would-be patrons are encouraged to come and browse these collections and take home a new favorite. The only “catch” is that you must leave behind a book for someone else to enjoy.
If free books aren’t enough to draw you to a Little Free Library, perhaps their artistic and social value will. Not only does the movement encourage social action and participation, each Library’s creator puts his/her own artistic spin to it. Some make their boxes look like barns or old-time schoolhouses, while others paint and decorate them with imagery from novels. One in Macon, GA is even done to look like the T.A.R.D.I.S. from Doctor Who!
To find a Little Free Library in your area, learn more about building one for your community, or to just learn more about the movement, please visit the official website here.
Next, we discuss any bargain hunter’s favorite spot…
Thrift stores have long been one of the best places to find cheap, used goods. I know I have spent many an hour in a local Goodwill store looking through books, hoping to find a hidden classic. While selection quality will vary from location to location, there is no denying that visiting one of these Fortresses of the Frugal will net one a healthy sum of books for an even healthier bottom line.
However, one of the best tips I can give is to actually avoid Goodwill and Salvation Army. Everyone knows that these places have cheap books, which means they are also going to be the most picked over. Instead, check for smaller, independent thrift shops in your area. A personal favorite for me and the wife is Pick of the Litter in Barnwell, SC. We visit all the time and are always wowed by the selection available. And the prices! When we went in to take these pictures, the store was having an amazing sale. We were able to get everything in this basket (and more after the photo was taken) for less than $5!
The best part about local thrift stores? You know exactly where the money is going. While Goodwill and other large thrift store chains skim a lot of the earnings to pay executive wages, local thrift stores usually donate to local causes. For example, Pick of the Litter donates to local no-kill animal shelters.
However, if you are determined to buy books that are brand new, there is one way to save…
While big box stores like Walmart and Target will discount books slightly when compared to Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million, the only true discount stores are places like Big Lots and Ollie’s. Sure, you won’t get the freshest new release at either of these stores, but you can find a good selection of popular authors if you are willing to do a little digging.
On my and my wife’s recent trip to Ollie’s, we were able to find titles from Stephen King, Kathy Reichs, Nora Roberts, John Grisham, Janet Evanovich, Philippa Gregory, and several other popular authors. Most fiction titles were $5 or less and there was also a wide variety of self-help, religious, and non-fiction titles. If you have one of these stores in your area, it is definitely worth checking out.
Lastly, if all other saving methods fail, there is always an old fashioned method…
Whether a simple agreement between friends or a whole group dedicated to regular meets, book swaps are still a viable way to get new reading material cheap. Also, book swaps have the bonus of person-to-person interaction. It allows swappers to discuss their likes, dislikes, and preferred method of reading among other topics. Plus, it allows you to expose yourself to new genres and authors with little risk. The person you swap with might be interested in trying one of your mystery novels, giving you the chance to try one of their science fiction stories they always rave about.
I hope you enjoyed my five ways to save money on books and found it helpful. If you have any tips on how to save some green when reading, be sure to leave them in the comments below!
Note: I was not paid, nor did I receive compensation via product or discounts, for this post. All opinions are my own.