Shopping for Books

Being an avid reader, I have found a few tips and tricks over time that have helped me save quite a bit when book buying. I thought you’d appreciate the chance to save some money too-after all, more money means more books, right?

  1. Buy books used

Okay, now before you freak out and say “But used books mean ruined, falling-apart-at-the-seams books! It’s unsanitary! And what about my frequent customer punch-card at the bookstore?”

Relax and save the punch card for step number four. Just because books are used does not mean that they are falling apart. To the contrary: I have bought used books that are in better condition than some straight from Barnes & Noble’s squeaky clean shelves. Plus, it can save you anywhere from a few bucks to nearly 80% off list price.

(Disclaimer: I can’t really comment on sanitary-ness, since I’m not sure how I would test that. I do buy a lot of used books however, and I haven’t caught the bubonic plague yet.)

Places to find books used:

Online-more about this in step three.

Local used book stores such as Book Haven, Book Lovers, etc. The mother of all used bookstores is McKay’s Bookstore. If you are lucky enough to live in/visit Tennessee, you simply must stop at one of their three locations. You can find the locations at

Another place you should check out is Powell’s City of Books in Portland, OR. It claims to be the largest used/new bookstore in the world. I have never visited it, but it sounds like one of those must-see places to visit before you die.

2. Discounts

Couponing-this is not your mother’s extreme version. The kind of couponing I’m talking about is primarily found online (where I shop the majority of the time). My favorite place to find coupons is You can find a lot of great coupons here, and they also have sale information as well. Another place to check would be, though you do have to sign up. They offer rebates (most of the time like 2.0% back on your purchase, or something similar) and also have topics on sales, coupons, black friday, etc, on a variety of different stores.

If you’re shopping at a local location, try asking the people who work there if they know of any sales or promotions coming up, and if they give out coupons in an ad or newsletter. Some places also offer regular discounts, such as employee, senior, etc. Barnes & Noble has a membership option (it cost $25 a year for a membership), which is good if you shop there often. It gives you a discount and free shipping. They also offer an Educator’s Discount, which saves you 20% off each purchase (my mom has one on account of being a homeschool mom).

Another option is trading. Some used bookstores will accept books you bring in for store credit, which you can then use on other books. This depends on store policy. I have also seen sites such as Paperback Swap that promote book trading between people, but I have never tried one.

3. Online

Sites I shop from include: (great for series, or ‘lots’ of books-a lot is defined as ‘a group of similar or identical items that are sold together to one buyer-a case of batteries, three dresses, a CD collection, etc.’) (yes, they do have used options)

Local craigslist (more for series, or groups of books, like Nancy Drew, or Hardy Boys, or classics. You never know with this one.)

But the very best site I have found for searching for used books online is In fact, it is the very best tool for shopping for books in general. This site is simply awesome. It searches for the best price new and/or used for the specific book you are looking for, and gives you a link to where it is found.

4. Buying Books New

Yes, there is those times when you have to buy a book brand new. The shiny cover beckons to you from the shelf, drawing you in…a book lover and their money are soon parted. I highly recommend reading step two and using those techniques when buying a book new. Also, shop around at Amazon, Ebay, B&N, or other places, to find the best price for it new. is really good for that. 😉 (Can you tell I love that site?)


Well, I hope this helps all my book-hungry friends. Never can have too many books, can we?



Comment and let me know if you have any tips that you know of for book shopping, or how the book hunt went for you.




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