Books on a Budget

Written by Annastasia Liu

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

I absolutely love a good book! No matter what literary genre piques your interest, picking up a great book can be transportive, transformative and educational. Over the years I've amassed a fair collection of books (doing my undergraduate and graduate studies in English literature were major contributors), but as any bibliophile will tell you, a book addiction can come with a hefty price tag. Before you spend your hard-earned cash on the latest novel you're itching to read, take a look at some of the ways I've saved while still indulging in some awesome literature.

  1. Get a library membership

  • Pros: Getting a library membership in your local community is completely free! You'll get access to a wide variety of books, online databases and other media (DVDs, CDs, magazines). And with most libraries, you can return items to any library branch within the same city or town.
  • Cons: If you're busy or read slowly, library borrowing periods may not feel long enough. Unlike books you purchase for yourself, you can't fold the corners or write notes in the margins of library books. Proper etiquette keeps library books in good condition so they can be enjoyed by more people for a longer amount of time.
  1. Buy used/pre-owned books

  • Pros: You can buy used and sometimes brand new books at thrift stores or used book stores. Some stores even have promotions where you can buy 4 books and get the 5th book for free. Depending on the area, you may even find books in different languages. Universities and colleges are also great places to find used books for more academic or specialized interests.
  • Cons: Selection can be hit or miss—sometimes you can find a gem, other times you'll find 19 copies of the same book. Also, the books may not be in the best physical condition.
  1. Invest in an e-reader

  • Pros: Electronic versions of new releases are almost always cheaper than paperbacks or hardcovers. Your book collection won't take up a lot of space, and more recent e-readers have extra features so your device can also be used like a regular tablet or iPad®. E-readers are great for travelers—they won't weigh down your luggage and you can enjoy a few great books while you travel.
  • Cons: E-readers can still be quite expensive, ranging from around $100 and up depending on the model. You can't feel the pages while you read or bask in your growing book collection. You're also staring at a screen for long periods of time.
  1. Buy books online

  • Pros: If you really love brand new books, buying online rather than retail could save a few dollars. You can also search for hard-to-find books online that may not be available locally.
  • Cons: Shipping costs need to be added on top of a cheap find if you don't meet the minimum order for free shipping.
  1. Participate in a book exchange in your community, with friends or online

  • Pros: Participating in a book exchange is a great way to keep your collection in check, while picking up a few new reads and getting to know others in your community. Although I've never tried online book exchanges (PaperBack SwapBookMooch) they're basically an amplified community exchange. You may even be able to find books not available in your country. Look out for a Little Free Library in your neighbourhood where you can drop off and pick up books for free.
  • Cons: With online book exchanges, there are certain rules and fees associated with participating, so make sure you read all the details before signing up.

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