The way I see it, you can spend roughly £6 on a nice new paperback, which isn’t that expensive at all. Or you can go to a charity shop and buy 4-6 almost-as-good-as-new copies for the same price. I understand that when you buy books second hand, the author doesn’t get paid as they would if you bought from a main stream retailer, but some people cannot afford to buy books full price. That’s not a criticism against them, that’s just a fact of life.
I like to buy a mix of new and second hand books, because I like to support charities as well as authors. So buying books is one thing, but buying books cheaply, or on a budget is another matter entirely. Whatever your reasoning, I’m going to let you in on some of my book buying secrets I’ve found over my twenty-four years of book loving.
(I would just like to mention before we start that I live in the UK and so I can only speak for shipping to and from the UK, not other countries. I also HAVE NOT been sponsored by any of these companies. I just buy my books from them most of the time!)
This might seem relatively obvious, but Amazon Market Place is great and isn’t just for used books, it has a new option as well. It even grades how acceptable the copy is, and if you’re like me and you don’t mind a well-loved, battered, slightly annotated copy then this option is for you. Many smaller companies like World of Books and Book Depository (both wonderful places to buy second hand or new books, see WoB’s 3-4-2 deal on their website and BD has free shipping!) both sell through Market Place so you can still buy through a name you know and trust. Most used books go for 1p on the Market Place, with £2.80 postage, so you’re likely to find something you like, in good condition, for a fraction of the price you would pay usually. Amazon also fulfills the postage options on some books so you can buy it alongside other Amazon products and combine the postage charge.
Most people associate Ebay with bidding for items, and that sweat-drenched countdown that occurs in a bidding war. Actually, there are many “buy now” options that also give you a good deal. Once again, World of Books and Book Depository and other book outlets also sell through Ebay so you’re likely to find you’re buying from a company you trust rather than an individual seller. That being said, a lot of people buy books, read them once and then sell them on for a fraction of the price, or alternatively a lot of unwanted Christmas books go up in the New Year so you could find an amazing deal.
So, this may only be relevant if you’re a UK resident but The Works is a great place to buy cheap books. It’s billed as a craft store, and sells How-To and DIY books, but it also sells a good amount of fiction books too. On their website they recently had a deal for six fiction books for £10, which averages out at £2 a book, which is cheaper than Amazon Market Place and certainly cheaper that some charity shops. Which brings me onto my next topic…
Again, this may only be relevant if you’re a UK resident but charity shops are a massive thing in England (particularly the South, I think) but in America you might call them thrift stores, or maybe just second hand stores. In Bexhill, where I live, we have 24 charity shops (and counting) and I often like to wander the shelves and see what people have been reading. Once again, you find the books are often in mint condition, having been read once and then given away for the charities to sell. Big names include Oxfam who have stores dedicated to books! I have bought books for 10p ranging up to £2.50-£3 depending on the shop.
I know. I KNOW. Some people may feel that this option is sacrilegious to our beloved books. We cover their little ears when we talk about the controversial e-book, but hear me out people. HEAR ME OUT. E-books can, not always, but can be cheaper than physical books. I’ve downloaded a vast amount of free e-books, some being 10p, some 20p, some 50p, some £1 and they’re all relatively newly released books that you can have and to hold and read to your hearts content. AND You don’t need need to buy a Kindle to read them, you can just download the app (for free) and read book after book after book without having to carry them around with you. Kindle always offer Daily Deals too, and now that Audible is part of the Amazon family, you can upgrade your e-experience with an audiobook too. Just to give you a little taste of heaven, I bought E Lockhart’s We Were Liars on Kindle for 99p and then upgraded with audio for 99p. That’s a book and an audiobook for under £2!
So these are my trade secrets of the book world, take them, use them, abuse them (nicely) and go forth and buy books my young friends! Let me know in the comments if you get any good deals!