For the average bookworm, buying new books in a store can be a drain on your finances. Some books only sell in hardcover formats for $25 or more and unless you use coupons, this could equate to several hundreds of dollars in book-buying per year. While there are certain benefits to buying new (no wear and tear, you can reread it whenever you want, etc.), there are much more affordable alternatives out there:
Good, Old Fashioned Library
In wake of local budget cuts, many libraries have cut their hours or shut their doors entirely. However, unlike that one Twilight Zone’s episode, libraries are not wholly obsolete. They’re still valuable resources for people who’d rather check out books than buy them. Libraries often sell books as well, usually for pennies on the dollar (though don’t expect any well-known bestsellers).
If you’re more of a digital reader, Google Books and Project Gutenberg have thousands of free ebooks in their databases, many of which you can download or read straight from the websites. Newer, popular titles are absent, but if you’re looking for something more obscure or out of print, these two resources might have what you’re looking for at the low cost of $0.
*Don’t forget online book swap communities such as Paperback Swap, where you can swap books with other members and earn points for discounts on books for sale.
Preview Before Purchase
If you’d simply rather buy the book for one reason or another, then be sure to browse through reviews and/or sample chapters prior to making the purchase. This could save you from dumping loads of money on books you either won’t read or won’t like. Amazon is a great resource for this with its “Look Inside” feature (front page, table of contents, and first few pages or “Surprise Me!”).
Once you’ve sorted through which books you really want and which ones don’t look so great after all, buying books for your Kindle, Nook, or other electronic reading device is generally cheaper than buying hard copies. Think about it: the publishing costs are minimal in comparison and there are no shipping costs involved. They may not have the same feel as physical books, but ebooks save both money and trees, plus they can be read from anywhere if you have the cloud feature (e.g., I’m able to read ebooks on the Kindle apps on my smartphone and iPad).
One place to find interesting and/or barely-used books is garage sales. Some people buy books and leave them to gather dust on a bookshelf for years, only to sell them later for a couple quarters. There is also a fun surprise element about garage sales, since you never know what you might stumble upon. Thrift stores are also worth looking into.
This option is especially helpful for students and parents. Students who are in the same class(es) can split the cost of textbooks (used or rented books are always cheaper than brand new). Also, for parents with young children, buying a few picture books and swapping with other parents when your child grows bored with your current collection is another great way to reduce the cost of introducing your child to the exciting world of literature.