I’m a hands-on person when it comes to books. I like to touch them, hold them, read a page or two before I buy. I don’t like ordering them online (though I have, from time to time), so I have to find ways to feed my reading habit that involve going to actual brick and mortar stores.
Here are some places that sell inexpensive books – some best sellers and some obscure things you never dreamed of (and more than one gem). They don’t involve a computer and you can read the cover blurb or a page inside before you decide to buy.
Used books stores: If the book doesn’t have to be new (but it could be), consider ferreting out your local used books stores. They might just have the one book you’re missing in a series, and they often have multiple copies of a popular title so you can buy the one in the best shape. A bonus: Stores may buy your used books and give you credit toward others.
Barnes & Noble: If you haven’t browsed the bargain books section of your local Barnes & Noble store, you’re missing out. A $25 bestseller a few months ago is now about $5 or $6. It just goes to show, patience pays.
Clearance stores: Sometimes these stores are temporary, located in strip malls or outlet malls. They may have an odd selection – lots of books on aviation, for example, or lesser-known authors. But you also could find a great cookbook or children’s counting book. Prices are good, but not stellar.
Library book sales: Many libraries buy multiple copies of best-sellers by Tom Clancy or Janet Evanovich latest bestseller, then clear out the extras through their Friends’ bookstores or regular book sales. The money earned helps the library buy the next latest, greatest Stephen King. Our local library district has quarterly sales and the last day of the sale, books are $5 a bag. Yes, a whole bag of books for just five smackeroos. What a deal.
Thrift stores: If you ever shop at Goodwill, Salvation Army or other thrift stores, you know they always have loads of books. I’ve found several of my childhood favorites that were out of print. Prices are fantastic – sometimes you can get hard covers for a buck or two, and paperbacks for 50 cents or less. Worth taking a few minutes to root through the piles.
Yard sales: Private yard or garage sales often have books that may no longer be valuable to the owner – but may be invaluable to you. One man’s trash really is another man’s treasure.
Marketplaces: Those warehouse-type places in which individuals rent a space and sell their stuff can offer a wealth of older books. Remember those Childcraft books you read as a kid? We found a whole set in almost perfect condition for just $10 – for 20 oversized, hard-cover books full of illustrated fairy tales, nursery rhymes, Aesop’s fables, famous short stories (like “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”) and much more.
Before you shop, here are some suggestions:
- Make a list of your favorite authors in alphabetical order, print it out and take it with you. When faced with shelves or mounds of books, you can have a lapse of memory.
- Keep a running list of titles you are seeking – based on a review you read, or a friend’s recommendation, perhaps.
- Write down the titles of books you might be missing in a series (like the K in Sue Grafton’s A to Z mystery series) that you haven’t been able to find. Or maybe there’s a book you never read but always wanted to, like Man without a Star or East of Eden.
- Know your prices. Amazon wants $19 for a used copy of a hard-to-find book I had as a kid. But I’m in no hurry and I might find it for 50 cents at the thrift shop.
Before you know it, you’ll have a cedar chest full of books at the foot of your bed, all just waiting to be read. (Or maybe that’s just me.) And it won’t cost you much except a little time. And think what fun you’ll have on the hunt.