I’m always getting in trouble at home because my book collection has slowly outgrown its designated bookshelf, and now also resides in my office, beside my bed, and tucked away in just about every nook and cranny. It’s an addiction I can’t curb, as reading is my favorite way to relax after a stressful day. And because I’m an avid reader, I want to foster a love of books in my children. They have a bookcase packed with all of my favorite childhood authors, and we read together every night.
Before I had children, heading to the bookstore was something to do on a Friday night. I could peruse the shelves and check out the latest releases, not concerned if I had to pay $20 for a paperback. But since then, I’ve become much smarter about buying books for less. Getting better deals means I can buy more for both myself and my kids.
Buying Bargain Books
Literacy and a love of reading is important, so having books available in your home is a great idea. However, you might not have the $18 a pop that it costs to build your library from scratch. Luckily, there are a number of ways you can have books on your shelves and keep money in your pocket as well.
1. Buy Used
Used books are perfect because they are cheap and typically in good shape. Though I frequent a local bookstore to try and support small business, I also love sites such as Half.com and BetterWorldBooks.com. Buying secondhand books in a lot or group often nets the best discounts, so don’t be afraid to load up!
When buying used books, be sure you check the condition. “Like new” means that the book looks close to store-shelf condition. “Very good condition” typically means that a book only shows light signs of being read, while “good” probably means that the book is readable, but there might be some marking inside. Well-worn conditions can add to the charm of a used book, but if you prefer newer editions, look for “like new” or “very good” books.
2. Buy From School
Remember Scholastic book orders from when you were a kid? They’re still around.
Because Scholastic gives discounts for bulk orders, there’s a good chance that your child’s class still has Scholastic catalogs available. The books often sell for very cheap prices, especially when there’s a “featured” book for a dollar or two on the front page of the catalog. It’s a great way to help build up your child’s library without breaking the bank. Plus, it’s a good incentive for allowance, chores, or good behavior. I let my daughter pick out a few books each month, and it’s always fun when she brings home a few new stories to read together.
3. Check Out Garage Sales
Garages sales are a goldmine when it comes to books. Some people simply aren’t sentimental about the books they or their children read, so when they’re done, the books are sold for cheap. To get the most bang for your buck, look for a garage sale that allows you to purchase books in bulks, such as five for $1.
4. Read e-Books
You can use your smartphone as a way to snag free and cheap books from a variety of different e-book vendors. Whether you use iBooks, Kindle, or Kobo, you can download e-books directly to your smartphone or e-reader device. While new releases from high profile authors can be pricey, most e-book apps also offer free classics and cheaper books from lesser-known authors. You can even rent or borrow e-books to save even more. Load up your e-reader and you’ll never be bored in a waiting room again.
I still love a trip to the bookstore, and I think it’s important to support new authors and small businesses by buying books at full price every now and then. But when I’m building up my summer reading list or grabbing classics for my own collection, I usually look for used editions or search for the best deal through swaps and garage sales. The words are the same whether or not you buy a book at full price, so it makes sense to stock your shelves with books that have been well-loved before, or are less expensive versions of what’s available in stores. No matter the means, making books accessible in your home can foster a greater love of reading for your entire family.
What other tips can you suggest to find books for cheap?