NEW YORK (MainStreet) – Being a bookworm isn’t always cheap, especially if you’re the type to rush to the bookstore and buy the hardcover the day it comes out.
But if you’re willing to wait a little while and search around for the best price, you can save a lot of money on books. To get some tips, we spoke to Kendal Perez of the frugal living blog Hassle-Free Savings.
Buy them used.
This is the single most important thing to remember when it comes to saving on books. We previously listed books on our list of the things you should always buy used, and for good reason: As long as you don’t care about the occasional dog-eared page and some wear and tear on the book’s spine, you can save a ton of money off the cover price with very little impact on the reading experience.
“My mother-in-law always goes to secondhand stores to look for books, and she also finds a lot of audio books at thrift stores,” Perez says. “The trade-off is that it takes a little longer to find the titles that you want.”
You can save some time by skipping the thrift stores and searching online for used books. Perez recommends checking out FetchBook.info, a search engine that helps you find the lowest price on the book you’re looking for. We found it to be a useful tool, though it reminded us of one of the downsides of buying online: the shipping costs. Many of the used books it found were on the Amazon marketplace, which is made up of third-party sellers whose wares usually aren’t eligible for Amazon’s Super Saver Shipping. The result was that we found one book selling used for less than $1, but shipping added an additional $3.99.
Invest in an e-reader.
As a general rule, e-books are usually cheaper than new physical books, but still more expensive than a used book. Still, there are plenty of reasons to consider an e-reader. Both the Nook and the Kindle allow you to lend books to other users of the e-readers (or their free apps) on a limited basis, as well as to borrow books from libraries. And if you also subscribe to Amazon Prime, you can get access to the Kindle Lending Library, which enables you to borrow one book a month for free.
The good news is that basic e-readers have now dropped below the $100 price threshold, making them a worthy investment. And Perez points out one strategy for getting it even cheaper.
“One cool way to offset the cost is to use a discount gift card to purchase it,” she says. “You can go on GiftCardGranny and find a Barnes & Noble gift card valued at $100 and pay $87.50, then use it to purchase a $100 nook.”
Find them for free.
You don’t, of course, need a fancy gadget to borrow books from your local library, and we’re surprised at how few people actually take advantage of their town’s library to read books completely free of charge. Many libraries will even let you renew your book online so you don’t incur late fees.
That’s not the only way to get free books, though. Perez points out that her Kindle came with a wide selection of classic books you can download and own for free. Indeed, every e-reader library offers out-of-copyright classic books like Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland, and it’s not even necessary to own the e-reader itself. I downloaded the free Kobo app for the iPhone and was instantly able to access a library of free classics like Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.
We won’t begrudge someone who wants to pay full price for a much-anticipated book the day it comes out – Harry Potter fans, for instance, were hardly going to wait for the last book to start arriving in used book stores and libraries. But as long as you don’t mind waiting a bit and spending some time shopping around, you can save a good chunk of change on books.