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How to Read, All the Time, on a Budget

Article by Desislava Yordanova at My Book Pages

We’ve all been there – walking into a bookstore just to look around and emerging with a stack of books, or deciding whether or not it’s worth it to buy groceries rather than buying that new YA novel that just came out. There are so many books, but most of them are quite costly. Over the years I’ve accumulated countless copies, purchased from here and there. Since I am a discount-sniffing expert, I’ve found many ways to save up on books. Here are some ways you can read more and not starve to death.

INVESTING IN A LIBRARY CARD

I’ll start with the most obvious way to save up money. As someone, whose dream job is being a librarian, I promote libraries in every way I can. In times of consumerism, people prefer buying to borrowing books (I’m found guilty of this, also). Libraries are slowly shutting off one by one. Truth be told, there are very few people who would walk down to the nearby library and borrow books, many prefer reading them on their Kindle or buying a copy, which they can own. But libraries provide countless titles and it is completely free. Unless you have to pay a fee for bringing your copy late. Apart from that, it’s completely free. There might not be a huge variety in some libraries, some of them stick to classics and novels that came out years ago. However, they do try to provide new titles in order to attract young readers.

So if you’re a broke university student, chances are that books are last on your shopping list, but don’t worry, your university probably has better choices than most public libraries.

BUYING SECONDHAND BOOKS

As an ex-student, who managed to survive with the salary from my part-time job, I really didn’t feel like throwing away €100  monthly on books. However, I did find this lovely little shop, where you can buy them secondhand. The little old shopkeeper said that he collects books from libraries, which have closed down. I have went many times, and not only do I get incredibly low prices on hardcovers, but the shopkeeper also likes to help me out with my choices. I have bought books for as little as €4, some of them even hardcovers. Surprisingly, most of them are in a very decent condition. Last year I resolved to expand on my Stephen King collection and add more hardcover copies to it. These are all the purchases I have made there, and you will be able to see the pattern.

The only copy which is worn down is Cell, but I wanted it so badly that I didn’t really care. As I was reading it, I kept thinking who it had belonged to and realized that I am holding a book which has possibly passed through various hands, that I’m reading the very lines that so many others have read. It was amazing an amazing feeling.

I know, many prefer having their shiny, new, flawless copy of whatever they want to read, but most of these are slightly aged, and not damaged at all. In regular bookshops you can’t even find a book that is €10, unless it’s discounted or part of an offer. If you’re buying secondhand, for that amount you can buy up to 3 books.

BOOK DEPOSITORY

I don’t get paid to promote, I just do it, because I want to. So, Book Depository changed my life. Literally. Before that, buying books was a horrible experience. Local outlets didn’t provide every single book I wanted, and Amazon is quite costly considering in most cases you have to pay incredible shipping fees. In a particular instance, I remember paying around €40 euros for two paperbacks, including the shipping and everything. Opposed to Amazon, Book Depository is solely focused on books and provides better deals. While you still pay for your purchases, prices constantly drop. Take it from someone who spends approximately €100 every month on Book Depository, and in some cases my budget managed to provide as much as 10+ books. Once, the number went up to 25 books for roughly the same amount of money. Here is the big upside to it – worldwide shipping is entirely free. No, it is not a catch, it is completely free of charge, regardless of whether you buy €100 worth of books or €10. And it is guaranteed that the copies you receive will be in good condition, because they’re brand new. The only instance I got a bad copy was this:

And this is just a small hiccup and a one-time thing compared to my rugged The Bell Jar copy, which I received from Amazon. Not only is the shipping free, and fast (I usually receive my books in a week, and not a day more), but Book Depository also gives out freebies! With every package you receive, you also get a free bookmark. In 2015, the bookmarks were designed by their customers, with a book suggestion at the back of it. Last year and also this year, they are sending a bookmark which you can color in. Isn’t that amazing?

BOOK DEALS IN LOCAL OUTLETS

The best deal on books I’ve ever gotten was a kind of clearance sale, which one of my local bookstores organized. Their aim was to sell books which have been in the back of their outlets for ages. Mind you, those were perfectly good copies. So me and my SO decided to check it out. As far as I remember, we purchased 10 books for around €25 euros. They were paperbacks, but we weren’t very picky. Here’s how 3 of them look:

Since the price tags were left untouched at the back, we decided to add them up and see how much we would’ve spent if they were bought with their original price. The amount was €120 more or less. We managed to save up around €100 on books which were technically brand new. The only downside of it was that they were copies which no one really wanted in the first place, usually very old titles. There weren’t many good books to choose from, but hey, I managed to grab Irvine Welsh and Terry Pratchett novels, so I consider myself lucky.

So here’s the thing, there isn’t much competition if you’re a book reader, and many bookstores continuously throw discounts at their customers in order to make the sale. You just need to look out for them.

BOOK SWAPS

I cannot think of a better way to connect with other book readers, and also getting the chance to read a book you’ve never read before. See, if you’re an obsessive reader, there will be little chance that others will offer you something new, but give it a chance. You’d be parting with a beloved copy from your library, but so will the person who you send it to. Also, if the person has underlined or scribbled notes on his copy that would be amazing. Just imagine how good you’ll feel to be seeing such a personal side of someone. It is also completely free to swap a book with a friend. It’s not guaranteed to get a copy in good condition, but who would be friends with people who don’t take care of their books anyways.

I hope you managed to get some ideas on how to save money and at the same time to read more. But it goes both ways. Remember, if you have books that you’re trying to get rid of, don’t sell them, give them out for free. Either give them to someone who would enjoy them or donate them so they would fall in the hands of children and adults who can’t afford books for themselves. Everyone should have the perk of reading and most of us can actually do something in order for that to happen.

Featured image courtesy of Timeout.