The Frugal Reader: How to Feed your Habit without Breaking the Bank

For those of us who love books the need to acquire them amounts to almost a form of lust. The most humble book-lover can develop a form of greed when entering a bookstore. But books are expensive to buy outright, and libraries must be housed and maintained. And full price books rarely retain their value. In fact the ratio is a little like buying a new car in terms of immediate loss.

Books and More Books

A number of years ago it became necessary for me to sell around five thousand of my six thousand volumes. Though traumatic at the time, to say nothing of labor intensive, I now realize that this has freed me in certain ways. Just the bookshelf issue alone is liberating. I have come to believe that most private libraries would be better if shared.
Luckily for us there are several ways to satisfy the book lust without going broke. The first and most obvious is the public library. They might not have everything you want, but they are free. Libraries and librarians have done wonderful things for the countries that have them. They continue to be an absolutely frugal bastion of culture, and, in the United States at least, they are to be found in every little hamlet across the land.
If the book you want is not at the library, or if is out and you are very impatient there are still things you can do. First check the used bookstores near you. There is no one place to find out where the used bookstores are to be found. Try the Yellow Pages first. But these days this is an unreliable source. Checking online may work better. I searched on used books and added the name of my town. Google gave me a pretty good selection of what I know is out there. Probably asking around and then going exploring is the best way to find a good used bookstore.
But, used bookstores only have what stock people nearby have sold them, so the selection may still be limited. But, at and other large online dealers there are literally millions of used titles, some for as little as a penny plus shipping charges. And if they don’t have a used copy of a title, at least the cost of the new one should be deeply discounted. I would have listed this option first, but if we don’t support the little guys they will perish and that would be a real loss to whatever community they are in.
If you can’t get a book you want any other way, and you are absolutely determined to have it, it may be time to go to a regular brick and mortar retail store. If money is not your only consideration please consider supporting a local independent bookstore. These stores are important to the intellectual health of the public in a democratic society. But, if every dime counts and buying any book is a big splurge, try Borders. Get the free discount card, not the enhanced one that costs twenty dollars. You will get email offers every week with savings on one item of 25% to 40%. Since you are like only going to buy one book this will help a lot.
The final temptation to a big reader is the magazine or periodical. These are wonderful to read, great for staying informed, and if you have a niche interest or hobby you are probably already aware of the great money sink hole they represent. Surprisingly you can probably sate your appetite by actually subscribing to your favorites at 40% to 80% off the cover price. If you end up buying a particular magazine every month anyhow, do yourself a big favor and subscribe today. This lists all of them. A great piece of work. This site is a little messy and hard to use, but may turn up some gems. You know what to do with this one Go straight to the Borders Rewards site.



6 Responses

  1. You know Annabel, I blogged about this recently on my website. This post has really provided me with some food for thought, I think you made lots of really important points. I really wish I had read it earlier, prior to writing my own blog post.

  2. […] The Frugal Reader: How to Feed your Habit without Breaking the … […]

  3. Wow! This really is 1 of the most beneficial blogs I’ve ever occur across on this subject. Merely Amazing

  4. Fab, just fab! Love to see posts that make you feel alive. Too bad we do not get more of these. This made my soul smile¡­.

  5. I try to buy books from independent booksellers when I can, and they’re usually great about ordering titles for me if they don’t currently have them in stock.

    And used shops are great for finding bargains. I often come across hardcovers selling at six or eight dollars. Paperbacks of average size are usually marked at three dollars and fifty cents.

  6. I head straight to the “New” section at the local library and always find 1-3 books of interest!

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