Bookbuying Tips

I’ve been asked more than once how I get so many books. The short answer is that people will find ways to afford the things that they are truly passionate about. But beyond that essential concept, there are some practical steps you can take to make growing your library less painful for your wallet.

  1. Establish a good relationship with your local library. Checking out books at the library first is a great way to screen books so that you only spend money on the books you really want in your personal library. Most libraries also sell books they are done with for very reasonable rates–I’ve seen library sales where you can buy a brown paper bag full of books for $2.
  2. Make a point to discover your local used book store(s). Large national bookstores are making it less common to frequent local stores, but if you’re looking for bargains, a local used bookshop is really the way to go. Their stock might be a bit unpredictable, but it’s possible to find some unexpected treasures if you’re willing to dig a bit. (Note: don’t forget to check the bookshelf at places like Goodwill, too.)
  3. Get a membership with a national bookseller, and get on their e-mail list. For books you can’t find at a used bookshop, a major bookstore is a good way to go. If you have one in town, get a membership–it will make impulse buys less expensive. (This is assuming that you will buy enough from them either at the local store or at their online store for the savings to cover the cost of membership–do the math before you buy the membership.) Even if you don’t get a membership, most major book retailers have an e-mail list and will send out coupons fairly regularly. If in doubt, ask a cashier–a lot of them don’t offer because they’re tired of being turned down.
  4. Take the time to shop around online. Please support your local bookstores. Having said that, sometimes it is possible to find much better bargains online. However, don’t just assume that a book is cheaper because it’s online; take the time to compare prices. Also, don’t just check out the major retailers’ sites–there are several excellent sites dedicated to selling used books at very reasonable prices.
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