5 ways to Save Money on Books

I love books. I used to hate reading, therefore I hated books as well. But, as soon as I got out of school I began to enjoy reading – probably because I was no longer forced to do it. So now I collect good books, but I can’t remember the last time I paid full price for a book, or even half price for that matter. These are the 5 ways I save money on books:

1. Amazon.com

It doesn’t get much better than Amazon.com. They have just about every book imaginable, and you can buy almost all of them used. At this moment, I have books on my Amazon wish list that are selling used for 1 cent! I do have to pay shipping, which might be a couple bucks, but that sure beats the $20 retail price.

2. The local Library

I can’t speak for all libraries, but ours has a website that allows to us to browse the library database and request items to be sent to the nearest branch. Once they arrive, I get an email notification that they have arrived. Even though I prefer to own the books, this is a great option to have free access to a lot of books.

3. Check out thrift stores for used books

I just discovered this one a few months ago on a suggestion from a friend that they have tons of books for about a dollar. I was pleasantly surprised! I walked out with three famous business and finance books, a dictionary, and a thesaurus (all hardbound) for $5. I added up the retail price for kicks and the 5 books went for $142 new. Beware, you may have to wade through many romance novels to find the gems! :)

4. Trade your books with others

Swaptree.com has a cool service that allows you to trade your books, CDs, and DVDs with others online. The service is free, the only expense is the shipping cost of your item.

5. Borders

If you are into NEW books, signing up for Border’s email list may be a good way to go. On about a weekly basis I get a coupon from them, sometimes as much as 40% off.

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25 Comments
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  1. I love how interconnected libraries are! I can get something either from the county library system or from a big college system at Mr. Micah’s university. It doesn’t cover every book, but I feel pretty well off. :)

  2. Libraries are my favourite way to save money on books, with second hand bookshops or book exchanges following directly after.

  3. Here’s one of my favorite things about libraries: There are so many books that look promising initially that don’t really pay off in the end. If I’m browsing a topic at the library, I can take home several books on the topic and, at my leisure, decide which books are worth my time.

    Some books are only worth reading for one chapter. If I borrow from the library, I get to read the chapter, take the book back, and lose no money or time to speak of.

  4. Good article.

    I’ve found quite a few good books at library book sales, especially many repair-type books that I have frequently used for reference over the years.

    In 400 B.C. Archimedes said, “Give me a lever long enough, and a fulcrum upon which to place it, and I shall move the world.” Tools and books are my levers and fulcrums. Once you have them there is no stopping you, you can repair anything.

  5. @Cory
    Good point – I do the same thing, usually walk out with 6 books on whatever is interesting me at the time and skim through them and only maybe read the best one… It is a great way to figure out what is really good…

  6. I find lots of good books at garage sales during the summer.

    Regarding Borders, I get those too, but even with 40% off it’s frequently cheaper to purchase from Amazon or one of the other large online sellers. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Borders…could live their, but they aren’t the cheapest.

  7. @GLBLguy
    Agreed – I am an Amazon nut first, so I would get a new book there first, but if I happen to need to get a birthday present, say, the day of the party – Borders it is!! Amazon doesn’t have same day delivery (yet, anyway ;) )

  8. Got my links a little muddled there, sorry about that!

  9. I wouldn’t want you guys to miss out on Betterworld.com. Not only do you get books with free shipping in the U.S., you are also contributing to literacy worldwide. :)

    The prices used to start at $3.48. I guess with shipping prices higher, it’s now $3.98. But this is still 1 cent cheaper than Amazon (if you can find a good buy).

    If you go to retailmenot.com and type in betterworld.com, you’ll find coupons for 15% discount or 10% discount. It’s a great deal.

    If you live internationally, the books are shipped to you for only $2.97. It sure is a deal for me. :)

  10. That is why I created http://www.StudentBookTrades.com. An easy way to find college textbooks that other students have already completed courses for. Students are automatically matched with each other to trade textbooks for classes they have completed. Trade, Swap, sell, or buy college textbooks from other students. Search the book database, contact the student at your home campus, city, state, or nationwide about the book and save money.

  11. Those are some great ideas and I will try them out next time I need a book for school.

  12. another good place for inexpensive books…is Half.com.

  13. What’s a library?

  14. Minda

    http://www.gettextbooks.com/ searches Amazon, Abesbooks, Half.com, Chegg and others to find the lowest price. You can search any ISBN, author, or title (not just textbooks). There is also a buyback search that allows you to search sites that are willing to buy used textbooks.

  15. Great suggestions..Amazon is an awesome source for cheap books

  16. well, now that school started again I am glad i found your post + I like the pages posted on the comments. All great ways to buy/trade you books. Great post!

  17. Baltimore has a free book store called http://www.bookthing.org/
    It is open on Saturdays and Sundays and one is welcome to take as many books as one wants; if you want to donate books there are spots to leave them and drop off points other days of the week.

  18. Amazon.com – more savings! I stumbled on this by accident. If you click through to look at the used books link, some will have an orange box which says “fulfilled by amazon.” These books ARE eligible for their SUPER SAVER FREE SHIPPING. So the $2.98 price will actually be what you pay.

    At the top of the list is a bold print option which will filter out only those books. I’ve found many of the books I want are available in this way. As always, do the math to see if paying shipping costs more or, at times, amazon’s price will be the lowest.

  19. Me again. And I’m worrying that, well, I’m posting several years after anyone else, but here goes . . .

    Will I read this NOW?

    I love books and have read constantly since I was in second grade. I like having my own copies because I dog-ear a lot of pages and write a lot of marginalia.

    I got into a pattern of going to Half Price Books and coming home with half a dozen books. I would start reading one right away, but most of them sat on my shelves. After half a dozen trips to the bookstore, I ended up with thirty unread books on the shelf.

    They mocked me. Every time I walked by they would talk to me, “You said you would read us but you haven’t. You read that other new book that you bought last weekend.”

    It was awful. Eventually I’d end up selling most of them back.

    So it occured to me, standing in the aisles with half a dozen books, “Will I read this now?” And usually the answer was no. So sad. So many books, so little time.

  20. Tracy Abbott-Mueller

    Hello-5 Ways to save money on books.
    This is a very interesting topic because I also love to save money on books. I utilize Amazon as well as going to thrift stores. Also, the library is a great source for savings. The trading of books is a great way too as long as you do not wish to keep or get your books back. Amazon I think is the best way to find particular books. Such as if you are looking for a book in a particular series or written by a particular author with Amazon you can just type in the name of the book or the author’s name and you should have many choices of new and used books. This is great because if you are collecting books you can order new ones to add to your collection. If you just need a book for reading pleasure or research you may choose a used book. One of my favorite author’s that I just discovered is Diana Gabaldon the author of the Outlander series; I was able to find all except the first book in hardcover from $3.99 to $8.99 each. I was very excited in this purchase as most of the books are $20 and up in price each.
    Amazon is also great for many other items you might be interested in that would save you money. I just ordered a $50 shower curtain and got it for $23.99 utilizing Amazon.
    I would also like to mention the great finds at thrift stores as well. I found the entire left behind series for $8.00. I can’t imagine a better buy. I have found several other books there as well but shopping at thrift store is like a treasure hunt you may not be able to find specific books or authors.

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