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52 Different Ways to Save $100 Per Year: Buy Used Books {Week 28)

Every week in 2013, I’ll be sharing a different way you can save $100 this year. If you do all of these things, you’ll be able to save over $5,000 this year alone! Many of these things will likely be things you’re already doing, but hopefully all of you will pick up at least a few new ideas or some inspiration from this series.

As you well know, we’re book lovers around here. But we rarely pay full price for books. In fact, usually when we buy books, we get them for pennies on the dollar — mostly by buying them used.

Here are some of our favorite ways to find great deals on used books:

1) Amazon

If you’re planning to purchase a book for yourself on Amazon, always check for the price of buying a used copy versus a new copy. If the book has been out for a few years, chances are that you’ll be able to find a used copy for less than $0.01. All you’ll have to pay is a few dollars for shipping!

Note: Don’t forget to sign up for Swagbucks so you can earn free Amazon gift cards toward more books. You can really stretch the gift cards when you buy used books!

2) Dollar Tree

You never know what you’re going to find at Dollar Tree, but I’ve come across a few really great titles over the years. So I recommend always scanning the bookshelves at Dollar Tree when you’re in there. Paying just $1 for a brand-new book — especially if it’s a title you’ve been hoping to read — can be a great bargain!

3) Barnes & Noble

You can also check Barnes & Noble’s Marketplace for good deals on used books. You can get a copy of many different used books for around $5 shipped — which is typically 50% to 75% off the price of buying new.

Note: Be sure to order through Rakuten (formerly Ebates) so that you’ll get cashback on your purchase!

4) Thrift Stores

I haven’t had as great success at finding really amazing books at thrift stores, but I know many of my friends have. So maybe I’m just going to the wrong stores or at the wrong times?!

5) PaperBackSwap

I love swapping books through PaperBackSwap. I recommend adding books you want to your wishlist, as this is the way I’ve had the most success in getting copies of books. Sometimes I’ve had to wait a year or two, but it was worth it since it saved so much money!

Note: For more tips on using PaperBackSwap, be sure to read this article.

6) Used Book Sales

The favorite of all us book lovers! Used Book Sales are a goldmine of good deals. But if you want to get the best deals, you need to have a plan of action. This article outlines a lot of great suggestions for maximizing the mileage of your money at used book sales.

Want to Save Even More?

Check out my article on 5 Ways to Get Books for Free. Also, don’t forget that you can download a variety of books for free each week through If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the Kindle app to your device or PC and read the books for free.

What are your favorite ways to find deals on used books? I’d love to hear!

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  • Diane says:

    I save money by not buying books at all. I borrow them from my library. When my high schoolers are assigned novels to get for their English class’ reading, I just get them from the library. (The teachers are fine with it.) That way, I don’t have to worry about storing a lot of books or passing them along.

    • Jennifer says:

      I agree. I read about 200 books a year and I haven’t bought one in many years. I think I did buy 5 books during high school for my dd as they weren’t available in our system.

      Crystal, I do have to admit that I bought your ebook when it was on sale for 99¢. I paid with it through Swagbucks, so that doesn’t really count, does it?

    • HilaryT says:

      I second this! I read lots of books and so do my kids, but we get them all from the library. If there is a book that I want to read that they don’t have, they will usually by it if I ask them too.

  • In my area, the best place to purchase used books is at a “Friends of the Library” sale. These are used books that are donated by patrons to help raise money to support the library. Each branch has a huge sale a few times each year. The prices are rock bottom and the selection is usually very good. Check with your local library.

    You can also check for similar sales in your area.

  • Maggie says:

    I buy my son tons of books from children’s consignment shops. I buy the majority of my children’s clothes from here and I always stop in the books section before I check out. I’ve gotten a lot of great books from here and they usually only cost around a dollar, and that’s for hardcover books too!

  • Kim M says:

    Growing up, my local library used to have bag sales- they’d give you a paper bag and you could fill it up with as many books as you could fit in it for $1 or $2.. and let me tell you, you can fit a TON of books in a paperbag!! My local library has books for sale, but they’re 50c to $1 each- still not bad, but nothing like my old library!

  • Emily says:

    I love Free shipping! And I’ve been happy with the speed of shipment.

  • jenn says:

    I also download a lot of free books to my Kindle, thanks to MSM, another free group I’m a member of and then the Amazon free list. Apparently, my library is now offering free kindle downloads also, but I have yet to sign up. is another good place (most of the time).

  • karen b says:

    I too have got books from Library sales or just not buy them & just borrow from the library has saved tons of money:)

  • I love find books for my toddler at the thrift store. The one near me isn’t great with its selection of anything but I can sometimes find books for 5-25 cents.

  • Sarah says:

    Library sales are a great one to hit, too! Our local library was getting rid of some old books, and we found some great fiction for super cheap (1 bag full of books for a “donation”).

  • Amy says:

    I have used and to buy used. I always check the book sale table at the library where they sell used books for a nickle!

  • Lana says:

    We buy books at thrift stores primarily. You do have to find the right one. We often read and then take them back to the store since our favorite store supports a women’s shelter. I usually don’t pay more than 25 cents or a book.

  • My family is moving towards having a smaller home library and we make frequent trips to our local library. As others have mentioned, our local library has book sales and we have scored a few good finds at the thrift store! 🙂

  • Debi says:

    I buy most of my books at they are also available through amazon.
    They have free shipping and many books start at 3.95. I have also purchased many of our home schooling books through thriftbooks, they have a ton of Childhood of Famous American titles to choose from.

  • Jessica C. says:

    Our local library has a section for discarded books that they sell for 25 to 50 cents a piece. Sometimes the books are showing heavy signs of wear but often they are still in really good condition. I’ve picked up a lot of cheap books for my kids this way. They also makes a great treat or reward…cheaper than a candy bar! 🙂

  • Don’t forget the library and if your local library doesn’t have the book you want, try the inter-library loan system. I’ve had great success with that!

    • Denise says:

      I love inter-library loan! Especially since I live in a small town!

      I also love! Best new website ever!

    • I love my library! But my town no longer pays the neighboring town to use their library so I have to pay $25/year. Doesn’t sound like a lot but it comes due at that time of year where I barely have grocery money let alone extra money. Hoping to budget better for it next year.

  • AK says:

    I…um…wish that the library was free for me. 🙂 But, I like to “support” the library to the tune of about $30 a year in overdue fines. Considering that we check out books by the stacks, it is not a terrible price to pay, and yet… (wink)

    We also like to have a rather broad home library, since we homeschool. My favorite places to find used books are at our local Savers Thrift (for kids classics…oh mercy…such deals! 25-50 cents a title) or at the local 1/2 Price Books Store. I get a little woozy with glee in the summer time, when I urge my kids to buy classic books with the $5 summer reading club…which tend to be a *dollar* on clearance…and we grow our library at 4 kids x 5 books per child. (20 free books…um, yes!)

    We also have a credit card (I know, shudders around these parts!) that is from Amazon, that we faithfully pay in full each month. That earns about $25 of free books for me each month. It is lovely. (Coupled with buying used thru Amazon, plus a few Swagbucks gift cards? I think it funds our homeschooling library at about $400 per year. Not too shabby!)

  • Alibris is a site just for buying used books. We’ve had good luck finding out of print books there.

    I’ve also bought used books on ( I found a set of American Girl books there in like-new condition for 1/3 the price of new ones).

    I’ve ran into a few great books at our thrift stores (classics).

    I’ve found several books at garage sales. I have several specific books on my garage sale list and I found quite a few earlier this year at a neighborhood garage sale. I bought hardcover, like new books of books on my list for $2 each. I also found some like-new board books for .50 for 4.

    I use Amazon for used books as well. We prefer hardcover editions whenever possible as they last longer, and we have a lot of people who will be reading and re-reading favorites at our house. I’ve bought hardcover editions and library binding (also hardcover) books for less than a new paperback, and they were in excellent condition.

  • bberg says:

    Getting books from the Library is a great idea but sometimes I will go all week without reading. I’m not a fast reader, work full time and with grandkids, kids and my elder parents in town time is limited. Could take me several weeks to a month to finish a book. That’s why I get most of mine from thrify stores, dollar tree or ebay. Then donate or sale the ones I don’t want. My kids used the library alot and now the grandkids go every week too.

  • Mel says:

    I found too many books at the local thrift shops when getting clothes. Now I shop the consignment store instead so I don’t have to walk by any books.

  • Sarah King says: is my favorite place to get used books because it has FREE shipping within the USA. While it doesn’t have every book you might want, there is a lot of variety as well as a grading system based on the condition of the books. I have gotten an almost-new hardbacked copy of “Peter Pan” and a perfect paperback edition of “Les Miserables” for under $10, among others. 🙂

  • Jolene says:

    I often buy book books at the farmer’s markets. I can often get books 3 for a dollar. I also sometimes sell old books there and get cash to buy more books with. I got almost all of Anne Rule’s books for a couple of pennies that way.

  • Julie says:

    When my kids were younger I belonged to a mother’s group (we had monthly meetings, organized playgroups etc.) and several times we organized a book exchange. Bring your books you’ve already read and no longer want, and pick up new (used) books from your friends. That might work great for kids books too, assuming wear and tear is minimal.

  • Local libraries are precious resources, at the Laurel, DE library I can look for a job, take computer classes, art classes, partake of other free programs such as no-sew blankets, line dancing, genealogy classes, chess playing and knitting and crocheting groups. FREE

    Limitless resources from some great people.

  • Kandice says:

    Many towns also have used book stores. Not only a great resource for books on the cheap, but they have trade programs. There was a Book Rack in my previous hometown which is a chain, but many towns have independent stores.

    Many areas also have seasonal kids’ consignment sales. The prices do vary since they are set by the seller, but I have found great books there.

    I check out print and ebooks from my library reguarly.

    Lastly – check out The Ultimate Ebook Library. Tons of ebooks for free.

  • Abby says:

    I always check first. They compare prices for you.

    • Jan says:

      When my children were in parochial high school, we were responsible for buying their textbooks. I have saved THOUSANDS of dollars in nine years, buying used books. Our parents’ group sponsored a used book sale annually. Then I’d hit the online search engines–my favorites are and These sites search multiple booksellers, including amazon,, alibris, and many others, and show you who has the best prices.

      Also, our state legislature passed a law five years ago, requiring colleges to provide the ISBN number for all textbooks on course book lists. It makes getting the correct edition so much easier!

      My son is now in a paramedic program, and last fall the college bookstore wanted $584 for his books. We bought them used for $260.

  • In Nashville we have a FABULOUS used bookstore called McKays. Seriously amazing. They have bestsellers often for 15-50 cents a piece. I love buying those!

  • Kay Boyd says:

    Also a great place to get used books is
    It is a sister company to eBay and I have gotten
    A lot of books through that site.

  • Antonella says: is cheap and has free shipping worldwide. In addition it funds literacy programs! It’s a win-win

  • Katie L says:

    We’ve been selling our books and buying used for several years now. We have great libraries, too, but for homeschooling I really like to have the books right here in the house.

    I found a beautiful oversized art book with lots and lots of pages of paintings, many of which we will use in our art studies for several years to come, for $3.00 at a library “Friends of the Library” book sale. I just can’t say enough about used books.

  • Cathyharrell says:

    Thriftbooks and abebooks

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