Thursday, 8 November 2012

A Guide To Bargain Books.

bargain books guide

Since I've been posting more about books with the 2012 Reading Challenge and have also recently started a book blog I've received comments from people who say they would love to read more but just can't afford to buy books. Personally I pretty much never buy full price books so I was inspired by these comments to create a little guide for the best places to find a good book bargain. A lot of the information will probably be quite obvious but there may be something you hadn't thought of before and I hope you find it helpful!
bargain books guide library

The obvious place to start would be libraries! If you're someone who likes to read a variety of books but doesn't necessarily want to spend money on building your own collection then joining the library is a great solution.

Pros - Its easy and free to join your local library and most towns/cities will have one. They usually have a big selection to choose from covering a wide variety of authors and genres just like you would find at a book shop. Many libraries also now have the option to manage your reservations and renewals online (something I personally find very handy!) which is great if you are unable to actually get to the library on a regular basis. They also offer large print and audio books which a lot of the other suggestions below do not. Some libraries also hold book sales where they sell off older/worn books to make space for new ones which is another opportunity to grab a bargain.

Cons - The biggest con is the time limit you have to read the books especially if you are unable to renew them because they are reserved for other people (aka the bane of my existence recently...). There won't always be a huge selection at smaller libraries and even across the county sometimes they won't have the book you're looking for. However if they don't have the specific book you can request that they buy a copy and whilst this may be subject to a small fee it will generally still be less than buying a copy of the book elsewhere. 

bargain books guide supermarket

Supermarkets can also be a great place to pick up a new book for less than the RRP.

Pros - Most supermarkets offer deals, usually things like two for £7 which is good considering a lot of paperbacks have an RRP of £7.99. They also offer popular titles such as recent film adaptations at low prices, for example The Hunger Games trilogy at under £4 each. I also recently picked up Lauren Oliver's Pandemonium for only £3.86 (cheaper than online) and it came with a free copy of the previous book in the series Delirium - this deal is exclusive to Tesco but also counted as just one book in their two for £7 deal! Another great thing about buying books at the supermarket is that you can pick them up along with your weekly food shop!

Cons - Of course supermarkets are primarily selling foods so they don't usually have a big selection of titles to choose from, but as mentioned earlier they often have popular titles and recent film/tv adaptations. Supermarkets can also be more expensive than some of the other ideas I've mentioned below but if you like to buy books new rather than used then they can be a good option.
bargain books guide charity shop

Charity Shops are a great place to find a book bargain, in fact half of my collection must have been purchased from them and I always have a peek at the book sections whenever I'm passing by.

Pros - The best part about picking up your books from charity shops is that not only can they be really cheap but you're also giving your money to a good cause. Charity shops are particularly good for finding recent film adaptations and things which have been popular over the last year or so but you can also find some more rare or out of print editions like the 1930s Grimm Fairy Tales one I picked up recently (pictured above). Some charity shops will have offers, ones I have seen include - 5 paperbacks for £1, buy one get one free hardbacks and 10p 'bargain boxes'. Of course the books on sale are donations so whats available changes all the time which could be seen as a negative but I like seeing lots of different books each time I visit, you never know what you're going to find!

Cons - They're not always that cheap, some shops (I won't name names!) charge £3/4 for a used book which even though the money is going to charity is fairly expensive if the book isn't in the best condition. Personally I'd much rather spend the money in a different charity shop & pick up a few more books for my money, but generally they are still cheaper than the RRP. Obviously like with any charity shop shopping whats available is down to chance and they won't always have what you're looking for so its not always a good option if you want a specific book. 

bargain books guide 3 for 5

If you prefer to buy new books rather than used The Works chain of stationery and book shops run a great 3 for £5 deal with a variety of titles to choose from.

Pros - Even though the books are 3 for £5 they are actually all only £1.99 each to begin with which is great if you just want one to complete a set or try a genre you may not normally go for. Surprisingly they actually have quite a good selection although I have found that each store I have visited has had different books available. Sometimes you can pick up a whole series (like I did with the Chaos Walking trilogy) which for only £5 on books that have RRPs of around £7.99 each is a really good deal.

Cons - Although they do have some complete sets they don't have every book for all of the series they offer, for example I picked up Pretties, Specials & Extras there but I have never seen Uglies for sale in any Works store I've visited. As mentioned before each store seems to have different books and some don't have as wide selection as others.
bargain books guide kindle

Those of you who own a Kindle can also sign up for the Kindle Daily Deal emails which let you know which book is on offer each day for one day only. All of the books shown in the photograph above cost only 99p either via the Daily Deal offer or the Summer sale, except for Jane Eyre which is available for free. Although I haven't gotten around to reading any of these ones yet I like to purchase them whilst they are on offer and save them up for later!

Pros - The Daily Deal offer can be hit and miss but it will often offer fairly large savings such as £4-5. As I mentioned above you can sign up for a daily email which lets you know which book is on offer each day and for how much, which means you don't have to check the website to find out.

Cons - I have managed to pick up a handful of titles via the deal however day to day the books on offer aren't usually ones that I'm personally interested in as they do provide such a wide variety. The most obvious con for this option is that these deals are only available for Kindle users which is a shame because Amazon don't seem to offer such frequent discounts like this on paperbacks/hardbacks.

Other ideas
  • Car Boot/Jumble Sales - If you're lucky you can find some major bargains at these sales and if you're brave enough you can haggle with the sellers too! Of course its very hit and miss, you may go to one and find there are no stalls with books and like anything at boot fairs it will be luck whether you find what you want or not.
  • 'Books For Free' Shops - These shops always have lots to choose from and instead of pricing each book you just donate what you can. They can be a great place to find out of print and unusual titles but you will have to have a good rummage! The books aren't generally in very good condition and there won't usually be that many recent titles (not necessarily a con, it depends what you're looking for). Some also have limits on how many books you can take so don't be too greedy!
  • Playtrade - If you like to buy your books online don't just go straight to Amazon, check other sites such as the Playtrade section on you'll often find a bargain there too!
  • Market Stalls - Some markets have book stalls where you can pick up well-known titles at cheaper prices but again, they may not always have what you're looking for.
  • Swap With Friends - This is a great way to read lots of different books, plus when you've finished you can discuss and share your thoughts on them with your friend!
Where do you get your books?
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