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How To Buy Books On A Budget

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How To Buy Books On A Budget

I’ll be the first to admit that I am a bit obsessed when it comes to buying books.

There’s something intoxicating about standing amongst shelves and shelves of books, with an ever-growing pile in your hands.

As anyone who buys too many books will tell you, the act of buying books is very different from actually reading them. If I buy 10 books tomorrow, it might take me three years to read them all. I am a reader and a book collector. The primary difference is that the latter hobby costs me way more money.

It’s difficult to have a passion for buying books, especially in Canada. Books are not cheap, my friends. When you’re frequently buying books that cost upwards of $25, it adds up quickly. And your bank account will most certainly not thank you.

So what’s a book lover to do? Lucky for myself—and my bank account—I have found a few ways to get around the expense of buying books. There are many affordable options out there that allow you to indulge in a bit of book buying, without breaking the bank!

1. Rewards and Membership Programs

The first suggestion on this list is actually quite easy. Have you ever stood in the checkout line at your favourite bookstore and noticed an abundance of signs promoting their rewards program? Many of us will just decline when the cashier asks us if we’d like to join the program.

That being said, this might actually be a great way to save a few dollars if you’re a frequent shopper!

For instance, I am a member of Chapters Indigo’s Plum PLUS program. This sets me back $39 per year. In the first six months, I saved $28 on book orders, never paid a dime for shipping, and racked up $30 in redeemable points. Not too shabby!

2. Book Depository

If you’re looking to buy books online at a great price, Book Depository is a fantastic place for you to check out. An online retailer from the UK, Book Depository boasts an extensive catalogue of old and new books at reasonable prices.

The best part? They offer free delivery on all orders worldwide! There is a bit of a catch: depending on where in the world you live, it might take several weeks for your order to arrive.

One of my personal favourite aspects of Book Depository is that they have a great selection of special edition books. Since they are a UK company, you can get access to UK-specific covers as well as rare editions that might have sold out in Canada or the United States.

3. Thrift Shops

When you think about thrift shops, you might not think about books. But sure enough, they’re there, waiting for you! The next time you’re at your favourite thrift shop, make sure to seek out the book section. You’re likely going to find a wide selection of used books that will come at impressively low prices. 

If you’re not opposed to reading a gently used copy, you could end up being able to buy double the amount of books that you usually do, at a significantly lower cost.

4. Secondhand/Independent Sellers

We all know how important it is to buy from independent booksellers. But did you know that the “support indie” action plan might actually be mutually beneficial?

It is often found that secondhand bookstores sell their books at much lower prices, typically because these copies are previously owned. However, the books are always meticulously screened and weeded out—so you’re actually getting books in great condition for WAY cheaper.

Your local indie store might also offer great loyalty programs or in-store credits for donating your own gently-loved books.

5. Check Grocery Stores

Everyone knows that the worst place to buy cheap books is an airport gift shop (no seriously, why are they so expensive?!) But did you ever notice how cheap books are at grocery stores?

It might seem like an unlikely place to look, but the next time you’re doing your grocery shop, head down the book aisle. You’ll likely find a few bestsellers on the shelves at significantly marked down prices.

Another great place to check is Costco—believe it or not, they frequently have brand new books for great prices. In its publication week, I purchased Cassandra Clare’s Chain of Gold for $16 CAD!

BONUS: Don’t forget to look at Facebook Marketplace!

If you’re on Facebook (if you aren’t, I don’t blame you!), make sure to keep an eye on their Marketplace. People are often selling brand new books that they’ve only read once for pennies.

The added bonus here is that it might just be your neighbour selling the book, in which case you won’t have to travel far or wait long to get your hands on the book you’ve been waiting for!

Let’s be honest—no matter the cost, we aren’t about to stop buying books any time soon. Eventually, that’s going to cause a pretty nasty dent in our bank accounts.

But with these few handy hacks, you’ll be able to buy the latest Taylor Jenkins Reid novel without any stress, aside from the preparation of knowing she will break your heart with her beautiful words.

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