My Personal How To: Affording Books on a Budget

Books! We love them and we need them. But reading is a hobby (and often necessity) that can really hit our funds hard at times. There is nothing like seeing new releases or incredible reviews and knowing it simply isn’t in the budget. For any book lover, it leads to inevitable disappointment.

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But! I am a believer, and so I constantly combat my limited funds and unlimited love of all things books with a few resources. Today I thought I would be nice and share my means to an end with you.

My Personal How To: Affording Books on a Budget

When spending money is simply not an option:

Libraries – First and foremost I am a huge advocator of all things relating to the public library. Outside of the usual hold and borrow system, we are very fortunate to have an expansive ebook collection available here that can be accessed through to easy to use applications, Overdrive & Libby. Both work together to provide a simple to use interface that allows you to not only place holds and check out audio & ebooks, but also create a wishlist, share ratings and see more of what is happening in the library community.

Hoopla Digital is another application I hear great things about, but do not use with my local library.

*Please feel free to comment below with your local library’s apps and resources.

Pros – Borrowing titles (even ebooks and audio) from your local library and utilizing these services will aid them in requesting future funding for additional services and titles.

Cons – Hold times can be incredibly long for popular titles, and not everyone has access to a thriving library system.

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Public Domain: Thousand of titles are free and readily available due to expired licensing and copyrights. You can access them without registering at Project Gutenberg.

Pros: There are literally thousands of titles available with no fees or registrations required. The titles are available for download in multiple formats and volunteers are constantly proofreading and checking them for accuracy.

Cons: Selection is limited to titles that are no longer copyright protected.

When funds are severely limited:

Local thrift stores & donation centers: Purchasing titles from community thrift stores and charity centers are a great way to stretch your funds and give back to the community. Often, if you have the time to look, you can find some hidden gems.

Pros: These purchases are helping to keep small business alive and often fund nearby shelters and needs within your community. It is a win for everyone. Most shops will willingly give you a small discount or credit for the books you bring in or donate.

Cons: Availability may be limited to older and often more worn materials.

Local Independent Bookstores: These are my favorite to visit and for a great reason! Again, it is all about giving back to the community. These fixtures often add not only a nice selection of affordable titles, but contribute to the local economy, and provide a safe environment that encourages reading & creativity. This is another area that Portland is blessed in, as we currently boast the world’s largest Indie Bookstore, Powell’s Books (they ship!). But it doesn’t stop there. Downtown is dotted with lovely independent sellers, offering something for everyone.

Pros: You are truly supporting the local economy and helping your community. You can often find a large selection of used and affordable books in great condition.

Cons: I am really hesitant to list any, but some independent sellers may not acquire newer releases right away.

Daily Ebook Deals

Ebooks can offer an incredibly affordable advantage to readers. There are multiple sites that offer daily deals directly in your inbox with everything from free titles to those as low as 2.99 or less. I am including a link to the ones I use below. *Please feel free to add yours in the comments.

BookBub.com

Riffle.com

EarlyBirdBooks.com

Goodreads.com Ebook Deals

BookRiot.com (I no longer use them, but their daily deals are worth a look).

Pros: Daily saving delivered right to your inbox.

Cons: Limited selection and you occasionally weed through some unwanted emails.

Other Savings and Discounts:

Signing up for local bookstore memberships & loyalty programs: I discovered only 2 years ago that B&N offered an annual membership that for only $25.00 offered me free shipping on all orders (huge since I no longer drive) monthly 20% off coupons, 10% off of all in stores purchases and a myriad of other benefits. The investment was a no-brainer. Keeping a lookout for loyalty programs and membership opportunities can really benefit readers who tend to purchase books on a regular basis.

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Pros: The opportunity to take advantage of significant savings on books and other store products. This usually includes free shipping with retailers who offer online services.

Cons: The additional newsletters and info that will pop up in your inbox or mailbox from time to time. An annual fee is not ideal for everyone.

Amazon: Seriously, if you have no qualms with them, they offer several services that make reading very accessible and affordable. If you are a Prime Member, you can easily enjoy a large selection of free titles ready to be read through Prime Reading and receive access to one Kindle First title a month for free. For just $9.99/ month, Kindle Unlimited gives readers access to over a million ebooks. And their daily deals are always worth checking out.

Pros: Access to a large amount of titles and savings.

Cons: Monthly fees can really add up.

Book Outlet: This is my go-to online store for physical books on a budget. BookOutlet.com offers thousands of marked down titles (often in new condition) for a fraction of the cost. With free shipping on orders over $35.00, a new point system, and a scratch and dent section which means bigger savings, I often place one large purchase every few months. And their customer service has been stellar in terms of my personal experience.

Pros: A large selection of affordable, physical copies. A point system and free shipping help curb more costs.

Cons: Longer shipping times and books may have a remainder mark.

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And there you have it. These are just a few of the resources I utilize to keep my bookshelves full. What resources do you have? Any favorites you care to add in the comments?

Let’s Chat,

Danielle ❤

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107 thoughts on “My Personal How To: Affording Books on a Budget

  1. Wow independent stores here are the most expensive way to buy books. I love spring Indies, but can only afford to do so occasionally. They rarely run deals and sell the books at full list price.

    My local charity store (our version of thrift) is pretty much kept stocked by me. I need them to rotate stock with other stores in the area! 😂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Indie stores here usually carry used copies of any stock they can, making them pretty affordable. So we are lucky with that. It is so odd how different is it everywhere. I do love charity stores stores though. As most of ours go to running local shatters and food banks 🙂

      Like

  2. Thank you for putting this together! Libraries are great places to get books, especially if you live in a big city (more books, more libraries…) I’ve looked into Book Outlet but shipping is too expensive, at least to the country where I live. Still, I hope this helps people who might be scrapping by get their book fix 😊

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Usually a thrift shop where I live, Book Depository if they’re having a sale, or sometimes asking family/friends for a book they already own and then return it! It’s not always the most convenient, but it gets the job done and some reading is better than none at all 🌞

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great tips! I only wish I could make use of our libraries but they are too far for me and also still so behind digitally, we don’t have systems like Overdrive here. If you read English books or ebooks (Dutch or English) the library is really not of great service here. I get most ecopies via Amazon when I see them announced for 99p and I go to Waterstones, an independent bookstore (expensive!) or a book fair for physical books. I wish we had thrift stores and car boot sales and such here but everyone tends to keep the books they purchase because they are so expensive and deserve to be treasured.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am learning stat indie booksellers are pretty expensive elsewhere, where kind of surprises me and kind of does not. I think the fact that so many here offer used titles is what keeps it affordable. It is a shame that libraries are not something we all have the same access to. Thank goodness for ebook deals ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Yes! Love this! I use the library so often and a huge percentage of the books I read are from the library! Plus I use my school library so we can only hold a book for two weeks. so it’s actually incentive for me to read faster haha.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Additional con to the local bookstore: I just double checked google maps because I didn’t want to be wrong, but we have ONE indie bookseller in my area, and it’s downtown where I never go because I have to pay for parking (in addition to the inconvenience of actually getting there). Local businesses just do not thrive in my area, whether booksellers, restaurants, music stores, whatever. :/

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I have a local library, which luckily is partnered with the big downtown library, so I have access to all the free books I want! When I say the only local indie bookseller, I mean within an hour drive, maybe further. I don’t live in the city, it’s about a half hour away, which is why our ONE local bookseller isn’t at all convenient.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Abesbooks is great for inexpensive books, although they often use DHL, which is horrendously slow and sometimes you don’t get the cover art that was advertised.

    Hoopla is a pretty cool app, if your public library participates. It’s not as handy as it used to be, though, since they reduced the number of titles you can borrow for free from eight to four per month.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow! 4 is a bit limited. That is for the whole month?! We have no monthly limits here. Just “at a time” limits. Which are pretty high still.

      Haha, I know how much you enjoy those pack mules. Good to know about the covers though. I am a stickler about that and would be having a fit 😂

      Like

      1. Hoopla has a tiny limit, yeah. Overdrive has no monthly limits at all, but Hoopla has a greater variety of audiobooks, so it’s kind of frustrating to deal with that 4-item limit.

        Right? I had picked a copy thay had a classy English cover for Bujold’s The Vor Game, and I got a weird American cover instead.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I am not sure, but with B&N I get free drink when there, an additional 20% off of most single items and 10% off of all store purchases, plus the free 3 day shipping. I usually get my money back in two trips haha. I look at it as no different than paying for my Prime which gives me free shipping 😉 I think I am ok with it because I save way more with my BN membership than I do any other. Maybe the fee is to cover all of the free shipping? Thanks Krysta❤

      Like

      1. I did not know you get a free drink at Barnes and Noble! I hate coffee and not much of a tea drinker other than regular ol’ unsweetened tea but if I got one free, I’d try a couple of varieties lol

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Libraries are magical and should be everyone’s ‘go to’ place for books. (Can you tell I was a librarian?) LOL
    I must point out that thrift stores are also a great source for books. I recently picked up a ‘like new’ hardcover of a very recent release for only $2.99

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great list of ideas Danielle! I had no idea you lived near Powell’s—and I’m jealous! Their Indiespensable box is my book splurge item and I always drool over their picks. I’ve also had the B&N membership for years, first with my family and now on my own. If you can swing the extra $25/year, I definitely think you more than make that money back in savings. B&N also usually has comparable prices to Amazon (within $1 or so) and the member express shipping means I don’t have to wait much longer for a book. It’s nice getting to buy from an actual bookstore when I don’t need to rely on the convenience of Amazon 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so glad someone else is hitting up the B&N membership ❤ I am often surprised at how many do not. At only 25.00 the shipping alone is worth it. But I usually make my money back the first few trips each year. The savings are huge with monthly discounts 🙂 And I seriously ❤ Powell's. I am hoping to go this week. I will keep you in mind – xx

      Like

  9. I was waiting for Bookoutlet to show up on here!! However if you have kids during the school year at least for me Scholastic is the way to go for kids books!!! Way cheaper and comes in bundles supports your school 😀 Also as far as libraries mine doesn’t have a great presence for audio or digital but if you go inside the actual library itself they have used book sale sections, which are fabulous!! books from .25 to 1.00 AMAZING!! Most of them are new condition too!! Love, Love, Love this post!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I wish I were more of a library user. My problem, always, is been that I’m not great about returning. I hate saying that, because I feel like it makes me sound terrible, but I came to terms with it a long time ago and now I know it’s safer if I just don’t borrow, lol.

    I am a B&N and Amazon member, however. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The B&N membership is worth every cent in my opinion! I save tons and love being able to pick up drinks or teas when I am out for free or at a fraction of the cost. I feel you on returns. I used to have to designate a end of night spot for library books with a reminder sign of when they were do back! So I know the pain 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Love this post Danielle! Libraries of course are a go to for me too… I do have to plan though and get it on hold if I want to work around my ARC reading. I also love the ebook deals… this is a huge go to for me too as I read best on a digital machine than a real book (sooooo sad) but good savings. I need to take a look at your outlet though…that sounds really promising for older books I want. ♥️

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I have to say, Texas has pretty decent selection of books in their libraries. Florida (ours are county): last one was ok selection-wise, my current county not too bad so far but does offer free delivery but my new county does not (oddly these counties do not reciprocate). But I can walk to my library! Oh! And I there’s a thrift & book store close by! (I move next week)
    eReaderIQ is an email subscription to alert you of free and drip drop kindle books. This was how I discovered Michael Sullivan. Thriftbooks is used (and new is available) that ships free at $10. Believe this is an amazon branch.
    I, too, have a B&N membership. Unfortunately, the free shipping is definitely needed because I won’t have a store nearby. Oh, but there’s Books a Million near! I’m surprised I didn’t see it today. Might switch to them when my B&N expires.

    This post was extra fun since it made me check out what’s in my area sooner LOL 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, here is the link https://www.thriftbooks.com/
        Tangent and it doesn’t work on Thrift books, is ebates.com I use that whenever I online shop. I think B&N no longer offers rebates either.

        Uh that was price drop kindle books lol not drip drop!! I should start reading on my phone at work again (when I work weekend nights it’s a little quiet. I’m not a slacker!)

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Yay! I mean, sorry to be an influence 😉

            I recently ordered books from Barnes because I didn’t watch to lose my coupons… I’m moving into my house next week, I shouldn’t buy more to pack!

            Liked by 1 person

              1. It’s basically a local move but I hired movers, . Only thing I’m moving are things I’m too lazy to pack (wall pictures and a couple of fragile items)

                I have new coupons, too. Might hit up Barnes before it’s too far of a drive 🙂 need more books to pack haha

                Liked by 1 person

  13. Thrift stores are my secret go-to place right after second-hand book stores! I love going through all those used books to find gems that are sometimes so clean that they almost seem new! It also helps save SO MUCH money!

    I also love bookoutlet occasionally (it can be quite dangerous at times) to do big bundle purchases and then take a huge break till the next big sale happens hahah

    I would totally use the library more but I’m still at that phase in life where owning the books I read is far too important for me hahahah I’m sure in a couple of years (or even earlier) I’ll find out why a kindle and ebooks/a library card are so important to bookworms nowadays! 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I get it. I have certain titles and series I still insist on having physical copies of! I am learning to let go of some though. At my age *wink wink* you have to eventually make sacrifices. Too many books and not enough room!? Ok, there is no such thing as too many books, but space is an issue 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I don’t know what I would do without the library, especially now that I’m used to having access to it. It took me a few years after moving overseas to realize that I could use my American card to access ebooks through Overdrive. I don’t even remember what I did before then! I get the daily email of Kindle deals from Modern Mrs. Darcy, which I think helped a little.

    This has probably already been mentioned in the comments, but signing up for NetGalley can score you some good books. You don’t even need a blog, just leaving a few comments on Goodreads should be enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah yes Netgalley 🙂 I just omitted it because I was trying to not limit the post to reviewers, but it is a wonderful resource, as is Edelwiess!

      I did not however, know that you could access Overdrive internationally! How does that work? Which library do you connect your account to? I am super curious about this process 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I never did figure out how to use Edelweiss, and it’s just as well because I have enough trouble keeping up with NetGalley.

        Overdrive seems to not really care about what country your in, just the card. I just use my LA Public Library card (which is connected to my gma’s address, as is my CA driver’s license ha ha). The Taipei Public Library is also on Overdrive, but the selection for English ebooks isn’t that good so I never use it.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m a big fan of the public library! I use the Overdrive app for borrowing ebooks and audiobooks, and it’s great. And usually, I always have so much to read that I don’t mind the wait list too much. Our library sponsors huge sales once a year, where all books are $3 or less. It’s an amazing way to stock the shelves, and you never know what you’ll find!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have a large annual sale here as well! I missed it this year, but hope I am able to attend the next. I am pretty excited about it 🙂 I have never been. Where I grew up, the libraries were much smaller and books were marked and tossed into sale boxes periodically (which I still enjoyed scouring)!

      Like

      1. The public libraries in South African are, unfortunately, in very bad shape. They are the last places on the list to receive government funding so the books are all old and mainly from pre-1994. People do donate books but the selection is not very good.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. What a comprehensive list, Danielle! I love this. I have two more to add:

    In my neighborhood, we have a lot of Little Free Libraries. There aren’t always a ton of my favorite genres, but it’s a great way for me to expand my reading horizons. Leave a book, take a book! Plus, this is a great way for me to easily clear my shelves.

    Also, I love borrowing books from my friends. There’s something so wonderful about connecting with friends over a favorite novel. I also love letting people borrow my books. The trick is making certain they come back…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hehe so here is my terrible secret that Sheila also caught.. I do not loan and borrow books with friends and family. I know, I know. This is awful. But too many favorite copies have been destroyed and lost. I do agree about Little Free Libraries though ❤ I should have added them! They are popping up everywhere here, and I love them!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Love this SO MUCH. You´re right. Not being able to afford books can make an avid reader disappointed. A struggle I believe we all have. After reading this I do regret not living in the states anymore. Something as simple as going to the library is * cough cough * a pain in the ass for a lot of people ( where I live ). I haven´t seen a proper thrift store in over a solid decade. People here are very much into lending / selling / ordering used books but there´s a language problem on my side ( I´m terrible at reading in foreign languages). So, basically… I´m screwed here ( book – wise ). The thing about Ebooks is… I try my best to avoid them. I have a kindle but can´t stand another device that needs an electric socket. The book

    It´s actually painful if you can´t save a dime on books. I feel it every month. That´s why I created a book saving jar where I throw in all my change and THEN buy books from whatever I´ve saved.

    I, too, love to support local independent bookstores! I´m a fan of giving back to the community. There´s just something magical, retro and intimate about walking into a small, possibly family run, bookshop that doesn´t have everything a person needs. I enjoy that flair and atmosphere because you can´t get that feeling anywhere else. ❤ The bookstore I go to has a tiny section where they have english books and I stick to that corner, although they hardly ever change the books.

    Fabulous post! ❤ This is so great for us bunch who have a rather expensive hobby. I can see so many readers saving good money through your suggestions.<3 Because there are so many great ways to save a buck. You just have to make an effort, ❤ ❤

    PS: I am so sorry for leaving a Tolstoy comment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Morgan! I was so anti ebook for the longest time, but now with the occassionally failing eyesight, muscle spasms and other factors, I have learned to embrace them. I do think it is important to get out and support indie bookstores, but I am learning this is more expensive for some than others. – xx

      Liked by 1 person

  18. BookOutlet is a slippery slope, I went on there to get a couple of books. Then realized if I spent 45$ I got free shipping, well I ended up getting like 20 books because of the clearance section haha.The same thing happens at the library sale where books used to be 2$ for a bag now it’s jut by donation so around 0.25$ a book, my TBR is huge after the last year.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Loved this post Danielle! Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

    I personally use Hoopla ALL. THE. TIME. I love that all the audio/eBooks are available for INSTANT download. There is no waiting in line, which is my biggest issue with Libby & Overdrive. I also feel that Hoopla has a fairly good database.

    I am also a HUGE fan of eBook deals that I get via BookBub and Goodreads. I’ve yet to purchase an eBook for over $2.99 🙂

    I love thrift store book hunting! My local Goodwill store sells hardback books for $1.99 and paperbacks for $0.99.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the Libby/Overdrive is based on how many titles your library owns 😉 At least here it seems to be. And our library seems to keep a rather large selection. We do not have Hoopla, but I never run into long hold times unless it is a new release or a book that was recently adapted to film and gained a boost in popularity. I just keep titles on my wishlist and monitor the wait times at that point haha.

      I agree about ebooks. Unless, I am dying to get my hands on it and absolutely cannot wait, 2.99 is my cut off. There are two many great deals available to spend a fortune. And thrift stores are so much fun ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I feel your pain, ha ha. I am almost glad I have been living in our postage stamp sized apartment because it makes me think long and hard about what books I want to buy in physical form. I have also cut back on full price ebooks and even most of the $1.99-$2.99 sale books. Now I get the ebook from the library and only buy a Kindle version if I think I will re-read it. 📚

    Our library has ebooks and audiobooks available through Overdrive and I can get a New York Public Library card to use online, too, as a resident of NY State. I have to get off my a$s and do that. Great post. I had not heard of Riffles, I’ll have to check it out. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks La La 🙂 I am a huge fan of Overdrive. I know some libraries seem to have a limited selection, but here and I am guessing there (with access to the New York Public Library) we are fortunate. It has saved me a ton of money, space and allowed me to offer support from home when I cannot be out and involved ❤ A win for all!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. This is such an important list of resources 🙂 No more excuses- simply read 🙂
    As for some of the newsletters you mentioned that highliht sales, I seem to use bookbub the most. I also subscribe to Freebooksy and Instafreebie. Sometimes something or other certainly catches the eye. With Instafreebie though there’s a catch that sometimes you need to subscribe to the author’s newsletter.. actually, I think that’s mostly the case so not always ideal.

    Back in Estonia I was such a library nerd- I spent most of my days in the libraries and I so dearly miss those times. The local library I have here in Ireland hasn’t managed to capture my heart at all, sadly, due to the small selection of titles they carry.

    And book depository has worked wonders for me with some sales! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw that is too bad about the library in Ireland. It seems a lot of international bloggers I talk to face the same dilemma. My home town library was severely limited due to funding, so now I take full advantage of having a nice one. So I feel you ❤

      I forgot about Instafreebie! I was also using them but got tired of the newsletters haha. But who cares about some extra emails to clean out if it means affordable or free reading material right?!

      Book depository is one I am still new too but discovering I like (aside from the wait).

      Thanks Stan!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I so miss my Estonian libraries 😀 hahaha… there was a village one (where I am from) that’s SOOO brilliant with new releases and the city one I had the pleasure to visit spanned over 3 floors with so many books it made me square-eyed! 😀 Libraries are so important…

        Well, with BookDepo- there’s always a silver lining, order something and then forget about it. when the books arrive, eventually, it’ll be like christmas 😀 hahaha

        *Stan sends high fives*

        Liked by 1 person

  22. I personally love the library for getting books – my library is part of the Swift Consortium so it can reach many different libraries collections, and the wait times are not that extreme, as they leverage off other libraries collections.

    Libraries also were incredibly cost effective when it came to keeping up the supply of picture books to my child… thanks for going indepth on the other options!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am a huge fan and advocate of libraries. They bring so much into the community and rely on it in turn for that needed funding. We are fortunate enough here as well to have a large interconnected system, so most titles are readily available or not too long in terms of wait. It is nice to know others have the same, as I know some have no access or very limited in terms of libraries. Thank you 🙂

      Like

  23. I LOVE Overdrive. That’s how I get most of my big-name books/audiobooks. Two more cons, though they’ve only happened once or twice—sometimes 5 books you put on hold a month ago show up at the same time you’re probably already reading 8 books and they’re automatically returned after 14 days so you read with fury or you have to wait again.

    I’ve listened to audiobooks at incredible speeds because of this, however, I noticed that if an audiobook is playing when it expires, it will keep playing. Just don’t stop because I can’t promise it’ll start again!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Where I live, we only have physical books on loan in libraries. I think there are ebook options, but you have to request a reader o_o so it’s a bit odd and I have not looked into that.

    And I am unapologetically jealous of Powell’s 🙂

    I also get a lot of my books through eReaderIQ sale updates! Have you tried it? It’s really awesome. It tells me when the books I want go on sale.

    Liked by 1 person

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