How Can I Save Money on Books?

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Answered by: Mary, An Expert in the Frugal Family Category
Books can be a budget-buster, but there are ways to save substantially

If you’re an avid reader, the cost of buying books can add up quickly. Fortunately, there are some good ways to save money on books so neither your reading habits nor your budget has to suffer.

Used book sales

One of the best ways to stock up on lots of reading material is at a used book sale. They are often held at public libraries, and early admission is sometimes offered to folks who join their county’s Friends of the Library. Even if you skip this option, there are still shelves and shelves of books to look through. Some county libraries will also sell used books in their branches during regular library hours, and some also operate a used book store.

To find other used book sales, go to and click on the state you live in.

Online savings

If you prefer to shop without leaving your couch, there are many ways to save money on books online. is a well-known source, and they also have “secondary sellers” – individuals who sell online through Amazon’s site. Ebay and, which is owned by Ebay, also have lots of used books to choose from. Just be sure to check shipping costs as well as the seller’s feedback rating to make sure other customers have been satisfied.

If you have a Kindle e-reader, or even another device, Amazon has a new promotion that offers unlimited access to over 600,000 e-books and thousands of audio books for $9.99. There’s a one-month free trial available that lets you see how you’d like it without incurring a cost. Readers with devices other than a Kindle can download a free app and still take advantage of the offer. is another great site for book lovers, with literally millions of books to choose from. Just list at least 10 books you’re willing to swap, and you’ll automatically get two free credits. If someone wants one of the books you list, you mail it to them at your expense. Books can ship via the Post Office’s Media Mail rate, so the cost is usually not very much. In exchange, you earn a credit, and when someone has a book you’d like, you request it, and they send it to you at their expense. You can also buy credits if you’re prefer not to list any of your own books.

Used book stores

Used book stores let you buy books at a reduced rate or trade your own books in for credit toward “new” ones. Some also have other items like CDs and DVDs.

Get them for free

The only thing better than cheap books are free ones!

If you have a young child, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library will send them a free book each month from birth to age 5. This is a great thing for kids to look forward to in the mail, and the books are always nice hardbacks that are fun to read. The books are available without any income requirements. To register, go to

Your child can also get free books from specially-marked Kellogg’s products like cereal and Rice Krispies treats. Make sure you get the ones with the Scholastic free book promotion on the front. Each box yields one code, and three codes will net a free book. If you buy larger boxes at Walmart, look for an offer that says you only need that one code for a free book. There are 50 Scholastic titles to choose from, and you can order for your child or donate one to a school. The program runs until 3/31/2015. To find out more, visit and look under Special Offers.

Public libraries

Don't forget public libraries as an excellent, free source of reading material. It might seem like an obvious source, but if you haven’t been to a public library in a while, you’re missing out. In addition to traditional books, they also loan e-books, audio books and many other materials. Even if they don’t have what you’re looking for at a particular time, many libraries can borrow what you need from other locations through an interlibrary loan.

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