Monday, March 14, 2011

Money Saving Monday: How to save when you're a bibliophile

I love books. A lot. When I was a kid, I spent my allowance on books. When I got my first job and had more money than I knew what to do with, I bought piles of books. Now that I have several jobs and have to pay rent (bummer!) I can't do that anymore. But I still read just as much as ever. How, you ask?

As part of The Saved Quarter Challenege, I'm sharing my secrets on how to be a Bibliophile (book lover) on a budget.

1. Kindle: This was a gift that I received when I graduated with my bachelor's degree, so I realize that not everyone has this option. However, you can get some free books for your Kindle (Barnes and Noble has the same kind of deal for the Nook), and the non-free books are often cheaper than their bookstore counterparts. I use Swagbucks, Opinion Points, etc. to get amazon gift cards, and viola! Free books! This, of course, would work for regular books on Amazon, too.  Also, you can download the Kindle app for your iPhone, iPad, PC, or Mac (for free, I think).  You have options.

2. This is one of my favorite websites. Here's how it works: you register on the site, and you get two free credits for joining. You can request any available book (warning: popular books often have long waiting lists; also, this is like a used bookstore, so it doesn't have every book in stock), and it is sent to you for free!  You can list your books, and you get credits when you send your books to someone else via the site.  When someone requests a book from you, you are responsible for the shipping, but they encourage you to use media mail. There's a running tally of how much money you've saved on your menu bar. Since I've joined the site, I've requested 15 books and saved $80. That's some serious cash. Right now it's free to join the site, but they are debating whether to charge dues for website upkeep, just as an FYI. Depending on how much you use the site, the dues would MORE than pay for themselves.

3. Half-Priced Books/any used bookstores: These are especially helpful when you check out the clearance sections. At my local Half-Priced Books, all the clearance books are $1, and there are a bunch of former bestsellers. Used bookstores are my go-to places when I'm looking for a book I want a hard copy of. I always check first, then half-price, then amazon and/or, and THEN a traditional bookstore.

4. Garage sales/Goodwill/consignment shops: You'd be surprised at the selection at your local charity shop or flea market. Not everyone saves their books, and when they don't they don't take them anywhere to sell. Jackpot for you!  This is kind of like the clearance section of a used bookstore (although, often not as cheap): random, but good.

5. The library: I admit, I do not take advantage of the library like I should. Intellectually I know it is my best option. I live in a college town with an excellent library system (both city-wide and the university), but I just can't committ. You see, I have had a problem since I was a kid: I can't seem to return books on time. Sometimes I'm not done reading them, sometimes I forget, and sometimes I "lose" them. If you're not like me (and the late fees/replacement costs won't be MORE expensive than just buying the books), use the library. Free books to read are never a bad thing. Bonus: my local city library has it's own paperback swap thing going on. You can take as many pocket paperbacks as you want and they aren't charged to your account; they trust you'll bring them back and/or donate new ones. I've never seen that shelf bare, so there must be something to it.

6. When I buy textbooks, this is the FIRST place I look. One semester I cut my textbook costs by 75% and by using Ebates, I got 5% back. It. was. sweet.

How do you save on books?


  1. We hit the thrift stores but some of them have even gotten costly so need to take care there. I like paper back exchanges so I can turn in some books and buy others at a reduced price.
    I like to sell some of them on eBay after I have read and also sell books on eBay and Amazon to add to our income.

  2. Have you ever checked out Project Guttenberg? It has free books online.

    I'm mainly a library user. I used to buy books, but I rarely re-read books, they take up a lot of storage space, and it isn't particularly environmentally friendly, not to mention the cost.

    My library allows me to renew books online and that has saved me a lot of late fines.

  3. @Life Goes On: Yeah, the Goodwill near me sells books for more expensive than 1/2 price. But, the locally owned ones just try and get rid of their books ASAP so they mark them down quite a bit.

    @Meghan: I never have heard of project Gutenberg! I will definitely have to check that out!