Wednesday, November 26, 2014

How to Buy Books for Cheap

by Phoebe Farag Mikhail

The musty scent of the Strand used book store in New York City remains a happy childhood memory ingrained in my mind. Every week, my father and I would take the subway down to the Strand, where he would leave me to explore the children and youth section while he explored the religion section. We never came home empty handed, and for a few dollars, we brought home treasures.

The beauty of books is that their value lies not in their material worth, but in the words written inside.

As the holidays draw near, giving the gift of a book can be a treasured one. The right book can show how much you have thought you have put into the gift, regardless of its cost. One of my favorite bloggers, Glennon Doyle Melton, on Momastery, suggests the following method for gift giving that she uses for her children:

One Gift You Want
One Gift the World Needs
One Gift to Wear
One Gift to Read

Today I’m going to help you find that "gift to read" without breaking the bank, both online and at "brick and mortar" stores.

Online: There are now numerous online retailers of used books.  Books whose condition is marked “used-like new” or “very good” are often pretty much good as new. “Good” and even “acceptable condition” work well for both bibliophiles like me and for children, who care more about being held and read to than having a bright and shiny brand new book. For children, books are new if they are new to them, and it's extra exciting if they come in a package in the mail.

Thriftbooks is one of my favorite online used book sellers. Shipping is included in the price, books start at $2.99, there is a multi-book discount of $.50 on each additional book if you order more than one book from the same warehouse. If you subscribe to their email list, you will get occasional discount offers, like buy 4 books, get one free going on right now with the promo code HOHOHO (good till December 14). Thriftbooks also has a wish list option and you can get instant notifications if a book you want appears in any of their warehouses.

Amazon offers listings of used books from many different used book retailers, saving you the trouble of finding an online retailer of every single book you want. Just click “used offers” on the book you are considering. Books can start at 1 cent, but will include $3.99 shipping, so the lowest cost you would pay is $4. And if you can’t find the book used, Amazon generally has the lowest prices on new books online. From now till December 14th, if you enter promo code BOOKDEAL25, you will get 25% off of one book.

Brick and Mortar:

The Public Library. No, I am not talking about borrowing books. You can actually buy books from your library, VERY CHEAPLY. Once, and sometimes twice a year, your local public library will hold a library book sale. Some libraries have a book sale on an ongoing basis. The books on sale are often in great condition, and are donated books as well as cast-offs from the shelves. Every library has its own system. At mine, they hand out large shopping bags, which we can fill up and pay a total of $5 for all the books in the bag. I’ve filled up my bag with upwards of 20 books and paid only $5 for all of it, and all those books retail for $12-15 each.

Used Bookstores. Used bookstores abound in every town and city in the US. In England, many charity shops also have used book sections. Some Barnes & Noble branches contain used book sections. If you get a Barnes and Noble Membership, you get 10% off everything in the store, including used books, adding up to greater discounts.

Local Bookstores. Both big box and local bookstores have “bargain bins” where you can find great deals on new books. Sometimes bestsellers that are now out in paperback will be found in hardcover at the bargain section.

Enjoy shopping for your gift to read, and don’t forget to buy yourself one (or two, or three…)

(Note: The Thriftbooks and Amazon links above are affiliate links, which means that if you use those links to make your purchases, I will receive a small commission. I affiliate with retailers that I purchase things from and would recommend. You are not obligated to use those links, but if you do use them, thank you!)