Jul 28, 2014
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The Frugal Reader’s Choice

Purchasing books – new or used – doesn’t have to break your bank if you are aware of these great book-buying options.

The Frugal Reader’s Choice The Frugal Reader’s Choice The Frugal Reader’s Choice

Who doesn’t enjoy a new book every now and then? It’s one of those simple pleasures that doesn’t cost a fortune and lasts for several days (or several months as the case may be for some).

However, the traditional methods of book buying are slowly coming to extinction. Going to one of the Big Box chain bookstores to get a book will easily cost $10 or more. That’s just for one book.

Kids’ books are essential for any responsible parent looking to develop literacy in their children. They’re lovely when they’re new and shiny, but c’mon people, how long with that glossy cover really last?

Is it worth the $12.99 to get a copy of “Guess How Much I Love You?” when you know your kids are going to be dropping it, chewing it, dribbling juice on it, smearing teddy grahams all over it and stepping on it daily?

Never fear, Frugal Family is here to share some great tips for buying "new" books at a fraction of the bookstore prices. Here are just a few ways to keep up with that valuable literacy time while saving your pennies.

1. Attend local libraries’ used book sales.

Libraries offer these sales periodically throughout the year. On Sat., May 7 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., the will be hosting its 13th Annual Used Book Sale at . “Friends of the Library” may attend the Preview Sale held on Fri., May 6 from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. to get first dibs on the selection.

Over 18,000 books and other media will be available for purchase, most costing only 50 cents to $1. Between 3 p.m. - 4 p.m. on Saturday, thrifty shoppers can fill a grocery bag for just $4 flat, or they can cram three bags full for $10. That’s a lot of books for $10!

Profits from library book sales are used for the libraries’ funding which is also a great motivating factor.

2. Visit your local independent used bookstores.

, located at 412 Chestnut St. in Emmaus, offers a wide selection of books at reasonable prices – typically $4 to $5 per book. Not only can customers buy books, but they also can sell their books to earn credit toward new reading selections from Blind Willow. Approximately $1 to $3 store credit per book is offered for trade-ins of customers’ used books. It’s almost an even swap and certainly a great way to save.

The owner, Matt Foley, said owning books is a great option because “you have unlimited time to read them, plus it’s just nice to have the book on a shelf where you can see it and remember it. Even if you don’t read them over again, you can still go through them in your head if you see them.”

in the South Mall carries new and used books at discount prices. Hardbacks sell for $4.99 or three for $12. Paperbacks go for $3.99 or three for $10. Children’s books are $1.99 or three for $5. As a bonus, if you purchase any book, you have the option of purchasing as many books from the “$1 Wall” as you’d like!

Heather Chase, a Lower Macungie resident, said that she was most impressed that the books are in such good shape. “I can get three books for the price of one and pay just $5. That’s the bulk deal. It’s really a good deal!” Chase explained.

3. Stop by the thrift stores in your area.

Most thrift stores have several shelves of used books for sale. VIA Thrift Shop at 1583 Lehigh Street in Allentown offers some amazing deals on children’s books. Many times you can get books for a dime a piece, and sometimes they even give a 50 percent discount on top of that! Where else can you pay a nickel for a book?

4. Go to yard sales.

This is the ultimate in cheap-book-buying. Most yard sales offer paperbacks for 10 to 50 cents, while hardback books go for an average of $1. Compare those prices to the typical retail price of $19.99 for a bestseller. Most times, the books have been read one time and are in perfect shape. Unused activity books, which typically cost $3.99 to $9.99 from a retail establishment, can often be found for 50 cents as well.

5. Check out the online options.

There are a multitude of online shopping Web sites pertaining to new and used books.

Half.com, an eBay company, is a great place to buy and sell books (as well as movies and music). The goal is to sell current books for at most “half” the price that one would pay at a traditional bookstore. Often times, sellers inundate the site with multiple copies of the same title, leading to a price decrease.

A popular title such as “Guess How Much I Love You?” by Sam McBratney, costs $13.98 (including shipping) on Barnes & Noble’s Web site. Half.com offers it for $4.74 (including shipping), which is clearly less than half the cost.

Thriftbooks.com is another Web site that, according to Chase, is even better than Half.com. 

6. Share books with friends, and visit your local library on a weekly basis.

This is an obvious way to save. However, Lucy McLeod, a local school librarian, said, “I'm a big believer in libraries and borrowing books too, but I would say, in my 'wise old perspective,' that my greatest pleasure from owning books now is loaning them to friends.”

McLeod also made a unique point. “I have several of my now-departed parents' cherished books and love 'visiting' the pages of those books to see where my dad made notations (he was an English professor) and where my mom autographed some with messages just for me or other members of our family.”

In reference to children’s books, McLeod added, “the coolest thing about buying used kids' books is that so many are out of print, and you just might find a 'lost treasure' that was your mom's or dad's or a grandparent's favorite! Also, used books are a wonderful way to fill in missing books in series you like. I have found used copies of books to replace well-worn titles for my library too!”

Despite the “e-volution” from traditional books to nooks, Kindles and eReaders, there’s nothing quite like a book with a solid cover and pages that turn. If you enjoy buying books, make sure to use these tips to save yourself a bundle.

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