15 Ways to Save on Books

By contributing writer Alea

I am a voracious reader. I read several books each week. If I paid full price for all the books I read it would add up to thousands of dollars each year. Fortunately, I have found a number of ways to save money on books.

How to save money on books

How to Save on Books

Thrift Stores

Explore your local thrift stores to see which ones have good book selections. We have several thrift shops that have a great selection of fairly new releases. I have been able to collect all of the Mitford series by Jan Karon from my local thrift stores.

Garage Sales

Garage sales often have rock bottom prices for books, but the selection is limited. Look for garage sale listings on Craigslist. When you see a listing that includes books, you can message them to find out what type of books they will be selling.

Estate Sales

Estate sales are like garage sales only the items are usually older. If you like classics and old out-of-print books, you will find some real treasures at estate sales. I still reread my copies of Scaramouche and The Scarlet Pimpernel that I picked up at an estate sale as a teenager.


If you don’t have a library card, go get one today! Not only can you check out books from your library and reserve books from other libraries, you can often borrow ebooks, audio books, music, and videos.

Library Book Sales

Many libraries have book sales to sell off older books. I have found some real gems at library sales like my signed copy of Square Foot Gardening for $1.00. Our library has several book sales a year, check with your local library for details.

Used Book Stores

Used book stores might be my greatest weakness. The difference between a used book store and shopping at a thrift store, garage sale, or estate sale is that you have a well-read individual who has sorted through the books and knows the inventory. You will pay a little more for this experience. However, used book stores usually accept old books, so you can turn in old books for credit to purchase new-to-you books.


We discovered Half.com when looking for discounts on text books for my daughter, but they also have good prices on other used books. This is a good place to find deals on recently released books that have only been read once. The books are in good condition and if you keep the book in good condition, you can recoup the cost by selling it on Half.com after you have finished reading it.


Paperback Swap

You can swap books online with Paperback Swap. The books don’t cost anything, it works on a credit system. You receive books for free, but you have to pay shipping on the books you send to others. It usually costs $2 – $3 to send a book.

Rent Books

Books Free is an online book rental service. It works much like Netflix.  You pay a monthly fee and you get to rent a certain number of books. They have several different plans and shipping is free.

Read Books Online

You can read the classics online at Gutenberg.org. Project Gutenberg offers over 42,000 free ebooks including free epub books and free kindle books. You can download them or read them online.

Book Outlet Stores

The outlet is not a good place to look for new releases, but it is a great place to look for classics. Outlet stores also have sales on top of their low prices. So if you have a book outlet near you, keep an eye out for the buy one get one free sales. It is how I built up my collection of poetry books.


I have had good luck finding out-of-print books at reasonable prices on eBay. The trick is to be patient. Don’t get into a bidding war; bide your time and the book you want will become available at a reasonable price. Don’t just look at the price of the book, factor the shipping expense in to be sure you are getting a good deal.

Warehouse Stores

Costco and Sam’s Club often have great prices on books, especially around the holidays. The best deals are often on book collections or sets. I found the complete collection (all 14 volumes) of The History of United Sates Naval Operations in World War II for less than the retail price of two volumes at Costco one year.


There are several ways to save on books at Amazon. Amazon has several different options for buying books. Be sure to compare the prices for ebooks, paper back books, and used books to look for the best price.

1. Amazon has great prices. If you absolutely must have a new release, I recommend pre-ordering it with Kindle. If the price is lowered before it is published, Amazon will refund you the difference.

2. Amazon has free eBooks. You don’t have to have a Kindle to read these books because Amazon has free apps that you can use to read the free ebooks.

3. Amazon Prime members can borrow one book from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library each calendar month. The Lending Library features over 180,000 titles, including many New York Times bestsellers. The books do not have a due date, but you have to “return” a borrowed book, before you can check out another one.

4.  Amazon has a Kindle lending program. You can lend (or borrow) a Kindle book to another reader for 14 days at no cost to either one of you.

Barnes and Noble

You can save on books by participating in Barnes and Noble’s rewards program. You can also order used books from their online site. Barnes and Noble also offers free ebooks for Nook. You do not have to have a Nook to take advantage of these free books; they have free apps that you can down load to your computer or smart phone.

How do you save money on books?

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  1. Thriftbooks.com often beats amazon used sellers. Not as cheap as garage sales but easy and the selection is large. It has lousy search, though.

  2. Great post Alea! Great information for avid readers & bookworms :)! I’ve heard good things about Paperback Swap, but never used it myself. Thanks for reminding me about that service!
    I liked your tips for buying books through Amazon, and something you can also do is redeem your Swagbucks for Amazon gift cards which will help you stretch your money even further!

  3. Thanks for sharing the tip about using Swagbucks! Great reminder! One of the main reasons I use Swagbucks is to get Amazon gift cards which I usually use to buy books.

  4. I get books for FREE by the daily give-away on GoodReads.com!

  5. I buy my books often from the goodwill outlet for .25/piece!!! I have found most of Nicholas SParks in like new condition for that price. Only downfall of that s that they just throw the books in huge bins you have to rummage through, but every time i find a book is like finding lost treasure 🙂

  6. My best book saving spot is the spca booksale. So many books at like 25¢ for paperback and 50¢ for hardback. I have to have a babysitter when I go there. I will buy every book I want and spend 100$ there. My mom always gave me 20 bucks I could spend there. My own money but I had to have the allowance lol. I was able to get every book written by dean koontz that way and I got half of stephan king.

  7. If you are a teacher or homeschooling parent you can get discounts at Barnes and Nobles and at Half price books. Just show them ID and fill out a small form and you can get 10-15% off. There are also promotions up to 25% at Barnes and Nobles sometimes. I am sure that is available at other stores too, but those are the two I know about.

    Paperback swap is great. You can also move credits between their other sites for CDs and DVDS so if you have any of those you want to get rid of you can get 3 book credits for 2 dvd credits. We inherited a large dvd collection we will never watch, so I keep sending those off and getting books instead! It’s like Christmas in the mail!

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