A Guide to Buying Books (and Saving Money)

book guideI have loved books for as long as I can remember — probably when I started high school. Even then, I had less than 50 books in my room. I never bought books because I didn’t have much space and they were, frankly, too expensive for a high school student without a job. Eight years later, I have over 360 books. Funny thing is, though, that most of these books were purchased in the last 2-3 years. I was a little too book happy and now I’m obsessed with collecting books. I really want my own home library!

Anyway, I know that I’m not the only one who goes gaga for books so I decided to make this guide. I am all about saving money and looking for sales and let’s face it, reading and collecting books are expensive hobbies. It can get extremely expensive and can easily cost up to $100 for 5 books! I have never spent that much on books and I don’t think I ever will. So, let’s get started!


There are a number of bookstores out there, the most famous bookstore chain would be Barnes & Noble. You shouldn’t ignore the smaller business around your area, either. You can just google bookstores near your location and some should pop up (hopefully). The great thing about books is that it can be sold through different vendors and I’ll go through the popular ones, which are the ones I usually use. I’ve also linked the bookstores to their online sites if you’d like to visit them!

Barnes & Noble

  • One of the largest selections of books and has many locations nationwide, books are sold at retail price
  • Membership fee: $25/year — you’ll receive coupons and discounts throughout the year and free shipping
  • If you spend at least $25 before taxes, you’re eligible for free shipping
  • Be aware that BN online has different prices (roughly 15-20% less) from in-store and if you choose to pick up your order instead of shipping, you will be charged with the in-store price
  • BN marketplace is another option to buy books from other sellers not affiliated with BN, they may be cheaper but are not eligible for free shipping


  • Great selection and cheaper than retail price
  • Buying used books is an option and I buy used books from there regularly and they are in mint condition, like new even
  • Often has 20% off, 30% off, and even 40% off used books
  • Great customer service, especially if you’re dissatisfied with your order
  • There’s a flat rate shipping and then for each book


  • Like it advertises: READ-iculously low prices. I mean I’ve gotten books as cheap $1.99, hardcover, too
  • Limited selection and if they have the more popular books, they tend to go out of stock real quickly
  • Offers Scratch/Dent copies (used books). I’ve never gotten used books there but I’ve heard they’re good condition
  • There’s a flat rate shipping for the first two books and then for each book but they’re cheaper rates than others
  • They give $5 coupon after your purchase


  • Great selection and bargain deals sold for less than retail price
  • Millionaire’s Club membership – $25/year and you’ll receive free shipping and coupons/discounts throughout the year
  • If you’re in the military or have a family member in the military (like my dad!) and have an account set up at the military store, AAFES, you receive the benefits of the Millionaire’s Club membership for free
  • There’s a flat rate shipping for the first two books and then for each book

Book Depository

  • Great selection and books sold less than retail price, reasonable prices
  • Free international shipping always (Book Depository is based in the U.K.)
  • Perfect for buying international — especially U.K. — versions of books


  • Semi-limited selection of books and are pretty cheap
  • Offers used, rare, and new books
  • Sold by different vendors
  • Shipping costs are relatively low and many are eligible for free shipping


  • Semi-limited selection of cheap used books
  • Prices reflect condition of book (Very Good & Like New conditions are best, Good has some creases on spines)
  • Items delivered to and from the U.S. are free


  • Large selections of books and many other items for less than retail price
  • Amazon Prime costs $99/year and comes with free 2-day shipping and free unlimited videos, and some free ebooks
  • You can try Prime free for 3 months, 6 months if you sign up as Amazon Student (using a university provided email address) — make sure you cancel your trial if you don’t intend on keeping because it will automatically charge your card. If you sign up as an Amazon Student, you will be charged $49/year (50% off) for Prime.
  • Free shipping if you spend $35 on eligible items
  • Offers used and new books from various vendors and might not be affiliated with Amazon and won’t be eligible for free shipping
  • Pre-Order Guarantee: if you pre-order a book from Amazon, you will receive the lowest price that it’s been offered (even if you initially bought it at a higher price)

Better World Books

  • Decent selection of new and used books. New books are reasonably priced and used books are priced based on condition (best conditions are Like New and Very Good, some are old library copies so keep an eye out)
  • Free shipping worldwide
  • Great bargain bin selections and discounts
  • When you buy a book, BWB donates to a book to a child in need
  • They donate their funds to local libraries and to aid in global literacy

Walmart & Target

  • Decent selection of books sold less than retail price
  • Free shipping if you spend at least $50 at Walmart
  • Free shipping if you spend at least $25 at Target
  • Limited selection in-store but the books are still sold less than retail price


  • There are few selections of new or used books that you can purchase right away or bid on (if you’re willing to — it’s kind of exciting, especially if you win, but that’s just me lol)
  • eBay has a partnered site called Half.com where they also sell new or used books of decent prices
  • Shipping depends on the seller but they’re usually reasonable

bookshelves cases

Now that you’ve got a number for places to buy books, you’re going to need to store them somewhere. Stacking them on your coffee table or bedside table works but there’s nothing like proudly displaying your prized possessions on shelves. Bookshelves are another big cost with this hobby. Plus, you never know which ones will be reliable! Bookshelves can cost well over $100 but I’ve seen some at very reasonable prices and from reliable places! I’ve always wanted those fancy shmancy bookcases with glass cabinets — because dust — but those are extremely expensive, so regular ones will suffice.


  • Amazing and reliable furniture! You can build them yourselves to save costs or you can get it built for you (it’s rather fun building it, actually)
  • Because you build it yourself (required tools are included), the prices are fantastic!
  • Some great and reasonably priced bookcases: Billy ($80), Borgsjo ($65), Lack ($50), Finnby ($30 — I have this one and it is amazing!), & Gersby ($25).

The Container Store

  • Perfect place for the A-type personality and obsessively organized person!
  • Bookcases from here are more expensive than others
  • They have great wall shelving, my favorite being the Umbra Conceal Shelves ($13/$15 based on size) — these are also known as the “floating books” shelf. The shelf is concealed  when books are stacked on top of it. It can hold up to 15 pounds of books! I have two myself and they are amazing!

Walmart & Target

  • Bookcases here are a hit or miss, you never know if you’ll get a good one
  • They are cheap, though. It’s great if you are on a real tight budget
  • They have a variety of selections from $20-$80+, depending on the number of shelves and the quality.
  • 3-shelf bookcases are $20 and 5-shelf bookcases are $30

tips tricks

Before you go book-buying crazy, I’ll leave you with a few other tips and tricks that can help you save even more!

  • Google is all-knowing. Simply google “coupons [insert online site name]” and you’ll get links to sites where people put up coupon codes and discounts! I use RetailMeNot the most & it has never let me down!
  • Subscribe and sign up to receive emails from the sites! They send emails regularly to let you know of any flash sales, discounts, and bargains. They also send out coupons!
  • If a book is newly released, if you can, try to wait a couple of weeks because more than likely, the prices drop a couple of bucks on the online sites.
  • If you can, go for the used books, especially from the sites above — those are the big money savers.
  • If you use Google Shopping and look up books through there, it will quickly compare prices for you from major sites!
  • Some sites will email you a coupon if you add items to their cart and then leave the page for a couple of hours (if you’re logged in, of course)
  • Be patient, take the time to go through the sites and compare prices, add up the totals with tax and shipping (if applicable).
  • Join Book Trading sites! There are sites that connect people and allow you to trade books with them: BookMooch & PaperBackSwap are the ones I know of.
  • Check to see if you have a local Book Exchange store!
  • If you have an E-Reader, the sites above also have discounted e-book prices. If you buy an e-book from Amazon (you can read on the kindle app), you can return it for a full refund within 7 days of purchase.
  • Lastly, libraries! I don’t do libraries because I’d want to keep the book but if I didn’t have a choice.

I hope that you found this post helpful and that you save a good amount of money! Have fun buying books and spending less on them. I hope that all your bookshelves and cases will be filled abundantly!

How do you save money when you shop for books? If you have other tips/tricks or sites that I didn’t mention, let me know below in the comments section!


About Anjie @ Love thy Shelf

Hello there -- call me Anjie! I made this book blog where I can put down all my bookish ramblings and talk to those who have the same interests!
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1 Response to A Guide to Buying Books (and Saving Money)

  1. Hey, I just nominate you to the Versatile Blogger Award! Click here to read more http://thebookishthought.blogspot.com/2015/03/versatile-blogger-award.html 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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