You CAN buy lots of books at an affordable price!

Nov 7, 2001

The Bottom Line You can buy books at a reduced price - I'll show you how!

I am an absolute book addict. I love reading books, I love collecting books until I run out of shelf space and need to but a new bookshelf, heck, I even love the smell of books, especially new ones. But what I love more than all of those things is browsing through bookstores, and buying books. I buy books about 5 times faster than I read them. If I were to stop buying books now, I would have enough books here to last me at least 10 years. But hey, I like the selection I have here. When I finish a book, I don't have to go out shopping for a new one; I have a whole selection right at my fingertips.

The important part of all this is that I can collect all these books, yet I never miss the money I spend on them. That's because I don't spend very much at all on books. And you can do it too! It's quite simple, you just have to learn the tricks of the trade.

Used Books

By far, the most economical way to buy books is to buy them used. Used book stores are the obvious place to buy used books, but there are also other ways. If you have the patience, you can check out yard sales. Admittedly, yard sales are notorious for a bad selection of items. But if you are lucky, you may just find a yard sale where somebody who has similar tastes as you who has decided to clear out their basement of books. Or you may just find a book here and a book there, all at extremely low prices. And the best part is, you can always talk down the seller to a lower price (or get a deal if you are buying several books).

I have already written a review on why you should buy used books, where I go into the wonders of used book stores, so I won't go into all of that here. But in summary, used book stores are great! You never know what you will find there - old books, new books, rare books, etc. Have a look around, you never know what you might find.


This really should be a sub-category under used books, but I think E-Bay deserves a category of it's own. Here you can find all kinds of books, and they are easy to find! Just type in the title or author of the book(s) you are looking for, and there is your list of options. If you are looking for a rare, out of print, or hard to find book, come back often as new listings are always being added.

The best way to get a deal on E-Bay is to look for an auction that is about to close on the book you are looking for that hasn't already received a lot of bids, or is still at a fairly low price. Make your bid, and set it so that it will automatically increase your bid up to a certain price (which you specify), just in case somebody else bids and you aren't around to up your bid. Also take into consideration the shipping costs. If the same seller has several books listed that you are interested in, try to win all of those auctions. Sending several books at a time decreases shipping costs. Also be wary of where the seller lives, and where you live - international shipping can be costly.

On-line Bookstores

There is a large variety of on-line book stores from which you can order books.

For American residents, is probably your best bet. They do offer discounted prices on most of the books they sell. But this is probably to offset the shipping costs, and make people more likely to buy from there. This is a good idea when your local book store doesn't have a certain book you are looking for, or if you live in an area without a major book store.

For Canadian residents, is great. I have ordered from them a couple of times, to get a hard to find book, a text book for school, etc.

But this review is about how to save money on books, and with the shipping and handling added to books ordered on-line, you would be better off just ordering it from your local book store to offset the shipping costs. Well, that is true most of the time. But there are ways to get on-line gift certificates. For example, I once got a $50 gift certificate for Amazon because of my participation at I ordered my books, and made sure it didn't exceed the $50, even after shipping was added, and all I had to pay was $8 Canadian for duty fees or something of that nature. I also once got a coupon for Chapters from a gas station - buy $25 worth of books, get $10 off, and free shipping.

There are places on-line where you can earn, or win gift certificates. Place like MyPoints, or MileSource, where you can earn points for doing various things, and you can exchange those points for gift certificates.

Off-line (real-life) Book Stores

Most of the time, you are not going to find good deals at book stores. Occasionally, though there are some sales. Check out their "bargain books" section, if they have one. This is where hardcover books are sold after the paperback has come out (not many people will pay $30-40 for a hardcover when the paperback is being sold for $10). But at the bargain books section, if you are lucky, you can find the hardcover version of your book cheaper than the paperback. I got one hardcover book of "Otherland" at Chapters for $8.

Sometimes book stores have special offers; pre-order a book and get a discount. This was the case with a book on the Beatles that my boyfriend wanted for Christmas. Pre-ordered, it cost $50, but if you waited to buy it from the store when it arrived, it cost $100.

Book Clubs

We've all had the opportunity; buy 5 books now for $1! (then in fine print:"Just buy X number of books in X amount of time). The concept; you get a steal on books, and you just have to buy a few more in the next couple of years.

A word of warning; be sure to check out the terms of service before joining any book club. Ask what the shipping and subsequent books are going to cost before you make any commitments to the company. Some companies charge a ridiculous amount of shipping and handling in order to make up for the low introductory price. And they may also charge a lot for the additional books you must buy. Know what you are getting into before ordering anything!

There is a whole section here at epinions on book clubs. Check it out and see what book club members are saying before you join. Or, if somebody you know has joined, ask what their experience with the company has been.

I have only ever been a member of one book club, the Science Fiction Book Club. I have joined up several different times and overall I have had a good experience with them. In fact, I just joined up with them again and received my introductory books yesterday. The deal was this: buy 5 books for $1, and get a free gift (which is either a dragon pendant or another book - I chose the book). They also had a deal; buy another book now for just $5.95. I took that deal as well. So that's 7 hardcover books for $6.95 plus shipping and handling. The final bill for the books was $25.68. Not bad, that works out to less than $4 per book, for hardcover books. Now I only have to buy 4 more books at regular club prices in the next two years(which actually are significantly cheaper than regular priced books). Overall, it should work out to about $8-10 per book, for hardcover books. Pretty good deal :)

The only bad thing about it is the "featured selections". This is where they send you a monthly letter stating that these two books are going to be sent to you unless you return the letter stating that you don't want the books. This is where they get most people. Most people think that if they forgot to send it back, and they receive the books, then they have to buy them. That's not quite true. If you haven't ordered any books from them, and you receive a parcel, just return it without opening it or the attached invoice. It won't cost you a cent. If you have ordered a shipment, always open the attached invoice first to be sure it was what you ordered. If it isn't put the invoice back in the envelope, the same way you got it (with your address showing), and return it. This won't cost you anything either. But there is some good news; after a certain number of months (I think it is 3)of returning those annoying letters, you can write to them and request to be taken off of that option and put on the option where you only get the featured selection if you want them. That way you don't have to send anything back, unless you decide you do want them.


Another way to cut down on the cost of books is to borrow books from a friend. Just be sure to return the book in the same condition you got it in. Don't dog ear the pages, or crease the spine (if you can help it). If something happens to damage the book, buy them a new one! If it is no longer available to buy, at the very least, get them a gift certificate to the local book store for at least the price of the book you ruined, to make up for it. That way they won't mind lending you another book.

I hope I have given you some advice that you can use, and I hope it is useful in cutting down on your reading costs.

Happy reading!!!

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