How to Save Money on Books (Including Digital Books)

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Hey literary lovers! If you’re a regular reader, you might be spending hundreds of dollars a year on your favorite form of entertainment. With full-priced hardbacks, e-books, and even new paperbacks priced at $15 or more, buying books can quickly break the budget. Here are a few ways to save on your next great reads.

Borrowing & swapping can be better than buying

Have you been to a library lately? Libraries are not only packed with books for borrowing, from classics and current books, but libraries usually have interesting free programming, access to computers and wi-fi, and more. 

Speaking of libraries, where I live in NJ, there are lots of Little Free Library kiosks where you can take free books. You can leave books as well. Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization out of Hudson, Wisconsin. The goal is to create opportunities for anyone to have 24/7 access to free books.

Make a trade

Swapping books with friends can be fun, but it can be hard to host a book swap party during these socially distant times. Instead, buddy up with one book-loving BFF, and swap books back and forth!

Or, if you’re more comfortable swapping online, check out websites like PaperBackSwap.com or BookMooch.com, where you can trade with others without the in-person contact. 

Buy a book that’s seen some love

Buying used is an amazing way to save money on books, and these books are often available like new or in gently used condition. You’ll hardly know someone else had them first! Amazon and eBay are good places to start with thousands of used books listings. 

Or visit Thrift Books, which claims to be the world’s largest online independent used bookseller – for affordable titles stacked with other great deals:

  • Find bestsellers like Gone Girl (list price $27) or Michelle Obama’s Becoming (list price $32.50) for $4.19!
  • Join their ReadingRewards program for rewards, exclusive deals, and more.
    • You’ll earn 100 points just for joining, 100 more points when you place an order through the Thrift Books app, and 20 points on your birthday.
    • The program is tier-based. The more you spend on books in a year, the higher the tier and the bigger the benefits.
    • Redeem your points for free books (with 500 points), free shipping, and other perks.
    • Refer a friend to sign up for ReadingRewards. When they spend $30, you both get a credit for a free book.
  • Look for the red deal tag to save an extra 10 percent.

Check out other popular online stores, like GoodwillBooks.com for deals on bestsellers like Stiegg Larson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for $6.75 or Delia Owens’s Where the Crawdads Sing for $7.25. There’s also Powells.com. Powell’s also has a brick and mortar location, which is the world’s largest independent bookstore.

For those who prefer in-person thrifting

Goodwill and Salvation Army have lots of used books, many of which are under $5. While you’re at it, check out their used clothing and home decor! 

Stop by garage sales. Maybe your neighbors have the same taste in books as you!

Join a subscription program

The best thing about a subscription program is that it takes away that decision fatigue you feel when trying to figure out what to read next. Let someone else choose for you (or at least cut through the clutter.)

  • CrateJoy can connect you with all sorts of book subscriptions, but if you’re looking to save, check out the Used Books Monthly program. Get four books per month in the genre of your choice for only $15.74 or one book per month for $6.79, including shipping.  
  • With Book of the Month Club, get your first month’s hardcover book for $9.99 and then pay $15.99 for every subsequent month. You get to pick from a selection of five of the best new reads on the market. With many hardcovers costing upwards of $20, this could be a way to save a few extra bucks each month!

Even better deals with eBooks

If you have a Kindle: Visit the Kindle Book Deals page on Amazon for daily and exclusive deals. At the time of this writing, the Kindle edition of If You Tell by NYT bestselling author Gregg Olsen is discounted from $15.95 to $2.99. And, if you’re already an Amazon Prime member, you can read this title among others for FREE! 

  • Kindle Book Deals are also available as a regular newsletter so you don’t have to keep checking Amazon.
  • Check out the Prime Reading page for a complete list of available titles.
  • Did you know you don’t have to have a Kindle to read Kindle books? You can download the app on most mobile devices!

If you have a Nook: Look through the Free eBooks section of the Barnes & Noble site, and you’ll find eBooks that can be read on your Nook at no extra cost.

Use the library: Using a library is a no-brainer for free (borrowed) reads, but did you know that many libraries across the country also allow you to borrow free e-books and audiobooks? You might have to wait your turn for popular titles, but a little patience goes a long way toward saving you money. Check out Overdrive.com and the site’s Libby app to see what e-books your local library has to offer.

Save at major retailers

Prefer to buy your books with a major retailer? No worries. There are tons of great ways to save through membership programs, special offers, and saving events at some of the country’s top major booksellers.

Barnes & Noble

  • For $25 a year, you can join the B&N Membership program with perks like a 20% welcome offer, 40% off hardcover bestsellers, 10% off in-store, free shipping on every order, and a special discount on your birthday.
    • Membership is free with the Barnes & Noble Mastercard and you can stack the 5% cardholder points (2500 points = a $25 credit) with the 10% B&N Membership discount.
      • The Mastercard also comes with a $25 gift card.
  • Check out the coupons & deals section. At the time of this writing, you can get 50% off hundreds of hardcover books in-store or online
  • Get 30% off online pre-orders
  • You can combine store coupons, free shipping offers, and group discounts to increase your savings.
  • AAA members get a 10% discount
  • If you’re a teacher, sign up for the Barnes & Noble Educator program and get 20% off the publisher’s list price on all purchases for classroom use and discounts of up to 25% off the publisher’s list price during Educator Appreciation Days.

Books-a-Million

  • Get 15% off your online order of $25+ when you sign up for the Books-a-Million newsletter.
  • Check out the Bargains page for the best deals with books as low as $3.97. The Books on Sale section has some great deals too, like 50% bestselling fiction and nonfiction. 
  • Join the Millionaire’s Club for $25 annually and earn up to 40% off select bestsellers, 10% off your entire in-store purchase, free shipping on all online orders, and over $100 in bonus coupons when you join. 
  • Books-a-Million has partnered with other vendors to help you find incredible deals on used or rare books. Search the New & Used Marketplace for the title you’re interested in. At the time of this writing, you can get books like To Kill a Mockingbird or books from the Harry Potter series for as low as $2.99.
  • Teachers can join the Educator Card Program to get 20% off all in-store purchases, free shipping on eligible online orders, and exclusive savings during special events including their annual Educator Week. (There’s usually one in the fall and one in the spring.)

Let savings and deals sites do the work for you

Check out the book discounts on SlickDeals.net. The site gathers some of the very best deals on books from across the web, so you can view them all in one place.

Or find special offers, promo codes, and deals with Coupon Cabin like a code to earn $8 off purchases of $65+ & free shipping at Alibris or ​​a code for 10% off purchases of $25+ at Biblio.com.

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How to Save Money on Books.

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Trae Bodge is an accomplished lifestyle journalist, TV presenter, spokesperson, and educator, specializing in beauty, tech, apps, toys, gift guides, and smart shopping. She has appeared as an expert on dozens of TV shows and radio networks, including Today, Rachael Ray Show, Inside Edition, CNN, Reuters, CNBC.com, Sirius Radio, and numerous FOX, ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates. Trae has been featured as a beauty tastemaker in Elle, Redbook, InStyle, and Essence, and her work has appeared on Yahoo Finance, Marketwatch, USNews.com, Credit.com, CBSNews.com, Time.com.

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