More Books for your Buck

Sometimes, people tell me I buy too many books—and it’s true. I haven’t read most of the books I bought this month, for example, let alone everything I purchased last year. What most of these people don’t understand is the fact that I jump on a purchase when I can get a good deal. I like to think I spend way less money on books than the average person despite bringing home more in my shopping bag.

I have a feeling that many of you reading this blog share a similar affliction, bookworms that we all are. I’d like to share my secrets with you!


If it’s not a book you need to have right away, you might eventually see it at a bargain price and decide the deal is too good to pass up. Likewise, you might discover a new author while browsing the bargain stacks at your local B&N, Borders, etc. For example, last year I discovered Brunonia Barry when The Lace Reader was a bargain book at B&N, then decided to also pick up her brand-new book, The Map of True Places, since it was on sale for 50% off (plus an extra 10% off as a member).

You can tell it’s a bargain book by its tag:

Wow, look at that price! Only $4.98+tax for a Meg Cabot before discounts? Yes, please!

Here are a few of the many books I’ve purchased this way:

Occasionally, the books will have black lines at the bottom to show they’re remainders, but not always. As you can see, most of my pile doesn’t contain these marks, but some do. I’m a little OCD about appearance, so I’ll go through a pile of books until I find the best-looking one. Most people probably don’t care, though!


Sometimes, you can score great treasures from your local used bookstore. Locally, I have two used dealers that I like to visit. One issues 50% off the cover price and the other 33%, which isn’t as great of a deal, but the store has more of a selection. Plus, if there are books you no longer want, you can sell them to the store for credit and use it to buy new books! There’s also a used bookstore in NYC, The Strand, that I love. (I'm hoping to go there when I'm in NYC next weekend, actually!) You can get many current books for about half-price—in hardcover, too! Sometimes, I also go on to websites such as or to see what prices the used deals are selling certain books for, usually if what I want is out of print or if I’m looking to stock up on a “new” author. Sometimes, if you’re looking for a bunch of books by an author you’re just getting into, can be a wonderful thing (especially if they’ve recently sent you a coupon!). Some sellers will put a batch of books together for one low, low price. I’ve used this method several times; the years I first discovered Jodi Picoult, Jacquelyn Mitchard, and Diane Chamberlain all come to mind. If I’m buying used online and can’t see the condition, I’ll ALWAYS opt for the hardcover. Even with shipping, the book is normally cheaper than buying it new in paperback at the bookstore AND it will last longer. I hate when a paperback starts creasing down the spine (again, OCD about appearance…). In fact, this past weekend, one of the used stores had nine of Terry Goodkind’s books in hardcover.

I purchased the lot for $19.08 after tax. PLUS, I got to exchange the six pre-owned paperbacks already sitting on my shelf for $10 in credit (though I couldn’t use it on hardbacks. That’s okay, another time! I’m just amazed they took back books from a used shop other than their own…). Then, I went online and purchased two of the missing books in hardcover from Abe Books for $10.07 (after shipping, which costs more than the book itself!) and the third book from Amazon for $5.24 after s/h. Guys, that’s less than $40 for a 12 book series where the books run from $20 to $30 a pop. Used books for the win!


Oftentimes, stores have great sales on their books, usually anywhere from 10% to 50% off (more if it’s on clearance or a bargain item). If you’re also a member of a rewards program (Barnes and Noble, Borders Plus), you save an extra 10% on top of the sale price.

Here’s a book I wasn’t sure about purchasing but was curious about earlier this year. When I saw it for 50% off, I grabbed it! Plus, I had a 15% off coupon AND the 10% off members discount. I only paid $5-something for a $15 book! ^_^

Yes, it costs money to join, but if you buy a lot of books, it adds up. Plus (with B&N, at least), you get exclusive coupons throughout the year with a percentage off that’s higher than what a non-member receives. By using those coupons, you make back your money really fast! Another perk with the B&N program is that it gives you free online shipping. Have you ever noticed how cheap books are online when they’re available for pre-order? Usually anywhere from 30% to 50% off! No wonder stores are suffering. These prices are GOOD. As a member, you get free express shipping, so you don’t have to put together a $25 order to get free standard shipping. I usually have the book on my doorstep the very next day. Amazon Prime offers free shipping all the time for members as well, but it costs $79 a year. That’s too rich for my blood. I’ll settle for $25 at B&N. Though I admit, I do take the free Amazon Prime trial whenever they offer it if there’s something I want! This being said—and here’s the important part—there’s still a way to give your local B&N store money WHILE stilling getting the online discount. Yes, it’s true! If you go up to Customer Service and ask for a “Ship to House” on a pre-order, you’ll pay for it that day in the store...AND you’ll get the online price. On top of that, if you have a coupon, you can use it in the store on your pre-order, which you can’t always do online. The store gets your money, not just the website. I always, ALWAYS pre-order this way. Stores are in trouble because of everyone moving to online. You just have to look at the sad state of Borders atm to see that. I want to support my local store in every way I can...but I also want to save money. As a B&N member, I get free shipping no matter what, so it’s okay to go to the store and do “Ship to House with Free Member Shipping.” You can do this with online sales, too—not just pre-orders. I recently bought These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf in paperback for 41% off this way. It was already available, not a pre-order. If you’re not a member but have a friend or family member who is, you can also share a membership card. All you need is the phone number at the register. I shared my friend’s card for a long time before getting one of my own.


Libraries often need to raise money. Sometimes, they’ll sell their own books that they no longer need for various reasons. Here are some of the books I’ve purchased in the past:

Other times, library patrons will donate books they no longer want to the library. If they don’t keep the books for their shelves, the libraries will sell these books during a sale. My local library charges fifty cents per paperback and a dollar per hardback. Here are some books I’ve purchased this way in the last year:

Next week, one of the local libraries is having its huge annual book sale with over 10,000 books being available. I'm heading over with a sturdy bag!


Many stores will give out coupons. Last year, Borders gave out a lot of 30% and 40% off coupons good for one item. B&N often gives out coupons between 10% and 25% once a week/once every other week. I usually wait until I have a coupon, then go to the store and do a “Ship to House” on a pre-order ranging from 30% to 45% that I want (see #3). Sometimes, there are secret coupons, too. Recently, I received a coupon for 50% off that I stacked with Jodi Picoult’s latest book, Sing You Home, which was already 40-something % off to pre-order. After tax, I only paid $8-something for that book. I tend to get a lot of my hardbacks for $7-$9 by using this method. And again, I ALWAYS go to the store and do this as a ship-to-home so that the store gets the money. I don’t want my local store going out of business! Going back to the Terry Goodkind model, his new book is currently available for pre-order at 44% off the list price. I’ll wait until I get another coupon, then swoop in for the kill. After all, it needs to match all my other shiny new hardbacks, right? ^.~


This isn’t applicable to everyone, but if you manage to get a job in a bookstore, you can save a great deal of money! Even if you just apply to work nights/weekends during the holidays when they need seasonal help! I work part-time at my local bookstore. I save money every single time I purchase a book. Twice a year, we have Employee Appreciation Week, so I save an additional 10% during that week. I’ll often stack a bunch of books I want together with a pre-order and lock in the lower price. That’s one reason I have so many “purchases” for the month of March. I ordered older books I wanted with pre-orders coming out this month. If it’s a book I can wait for, I’ll also group pre-orders together from time to time. Oooh, plus ARCs. We get ARCs at my local bookstore where I work!!! That’s how I recently obtained Wither!

So there you have it, guys. Six ways to save money. I hope this helps your wallet out a little!


  1. I love being a thrifty book shopper! Amazon's bargain books are my downfall. I've gotten some great books that way, and for such low prices! I also love library sales. There's a library near me that sells pristine donated copies for 25 cents to a dollar or two depending on the book. It's such a great bargain. Garage sales are another way I get cheap books.

  2. @ Small Review: I just purchased two of Carrie Vaughn's books in hard cover b/c Amazon had such a good bargain price! Bargain prices are my downfall, too!

    I can't wait to rummage through the big library sale this week. Over 10,000 titles, can you imagine?

    Oh, I never tried a garage sale!

  3. I so adore this post, mostly because you're pushing our Ship-To-Home secret (that isn't supposed to be a secret). Thank you!! Your B&N employees want to be there to help you find your books. By ordering through the store, you give us credit for your business at the store.

    You can get ship-to-home over the phone as well so you don't have to leave your house. Call us with the ISBN of a book you found online and we will ship it for you at the same price you see on the screen, and we'll take your card over the phone. Problems with your order? You have a person you can come visit at the store, not an 800 number. Everyone wins!!

    Support for your local store (B&N or otherwise) will make sure you have that special place to go relax, have a coffee, browse some new books, and pick up those bargain prices! Spending money online means you'll get the same great selection of books but without the great customer service and terrific atmosphere.

    (Shameless support of one's employer is a hobby I dabble in, yes.) Thanks again for spreading the word, Bonnie!


  4. @ Tara:

    Thanks for commenting! I love finding a fellow bookseller :)

    I really wish more people would use the Ship-To-Home feature b/c it HELPS bookstores make money and they STILL GET the online price. Plus, we can totally still use coupons, too. I convinced someone to do it this way just the other day when they would have otherwise gone home and ordered. I've also gotten a friend of mine who buys online to start coming to me and ordering her books instead!


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