Reading 101: Book Buying on a Budget

Book Buying on a Budget
I readily admit that I have a problem – I’m absolutely obsessed with buying books (nevermind the actually reading them part that might be implied by that statement).  Unfortunately, spending absurd sums of money that I don’t possess doesn’t mesh well with my current college student and prospective medical school student status.  Therefore, I’ve become creative with respect to maximizing my steady stream of bookish purchases while simultaneously having enough money to purchase food, pay for laundry, and all of those other unimportant things.

Coupons, coupons, and more coupons.

I enjoy hoarding coupons almost as much as I enjoy hoarding books.  Almost.  Signing up for discount and promotional emails from your local bookstore is a quick, easy way for coupons to be delivered straight to your inbox.  Barnes and Noble, for example, usually emails 1-3 coupons per week, as well as a few extras for holidays.  If you’d like to avoid cluttering up your inbox with newsletters, a brief Google search should yield similar coupons.

Take advantage of anything and everything – while 15% off a single item may seem minuscule in the moment, every coupon adds up, potentially saving you hundreds of dollars in the long run.  Several of my friends absolutely refuse to pay full price for books, adopting the philosophy that they are only permitted to purchase a book if they have a coupon in hand.  I must say, I greatly admire their self-restraint.

eBooks are your friend.

Generally speaking, ebooks are often cheaper than their physical alternatives.  If you’re willing to part with a physical edition of a novel to display on your bookshelves, ebooks are often a great choice.  The most popular ebook formats are supported on a wide variety of devices: computers, Apple and Android smartphones, and tablets.  Consequently, regardless of whether you own an ereader, you can still take advantage of cheaper prices and more accessible books.

In case you weren’t already sold on the concept of ebooks, popular works are often greatly discounted for a set period of time, whether that be 24 hours, several days, or a week.  $0.99, $1.99, and $2.99 are all common discount price tags for ebooks that regularly cost upwards of $9.99 – $19.99.  While I’m most familiar with Amazon’s ebook deals as a result of owning a Kindle, I’ve seen similar promotions across a variety of ebook vendors.

In settings, Goodreads has a feature that allows you to select your desired ebook vendors and receive emails when a book on your “Want to Read” shelf goes on sale.  Similarly, BookBub is a website that categorizes ebook deals by genre and retailers.  They also have a daily ebook deals newsletter which will incorporate discounted ebooks from the genres and authors of your choosing.

Investigate online retailers.

Before jumping into an impulsive purchase (however tempting), you may want to research a few online options to find the cheapest price.  If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few recommendations:

If you’re a diehard Amazon fan, I’d recommend taking a look at CamelCamelCamel.  When you enter the URL of the Amazon item of your choosing, CamelCamelCamel will display the item’s past price history, allowing you to identify if the current price is competitive, or if it’s likely to fluctuate even lower in the future.  Furthermore, you can track items long-term on CamelCamelCamel, and you’ll receive an email whenever those items drop below your desired price.

Keep in mind that no one book seller will have the cheapest prices 100% of the time.  Therefore, it may take a bit of research before you’re able to identify the lowest price, but it’ll be worth it in the end!

Secondhand or Bargain Bookstores

These vendors are notorious for their incredibly cheap prices and wide selections.  While the books may not be in pristine condition, their heavily discounted price tags are usually fairly enticing.  These stores commonly run promotions, such as offering a flat rate for as many books as you can cram into a designated box or bag.  Before you immediately write off one of these bookstores, take some time to sift through their collection, and you may walk away with a pile of books without breaking the bank.


The library is always a foolproof, completely free option if you’re looking to continue reading large volumes of books without breaking the bank.  The library is an excellent resource for vetting which books you truly want to own, versus which you never want to see again for the rest of your life.  If you fall in love with one of the books that you’ve checked out, you can always purchase it after giving it a read, ensuring that you’re only investing in works that you genuinely enjoyed and may wish to reread in the future.

What are some of your recommendations for purchasing discounted books?
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I’m a 20 year old college student with a love of reading and a high tolerance for caffeinated beverages. When I’m not wrapped up in my pre-medical coursework, I’m usually engrossed in a fantasy or psychological thriller, interspersed with the occasional young adult novel.

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7 thoughts on “Reading 101: Book Buying on a Budget

  1. Pingback: AUGUST 2017 | Wrap-Up | Nut Free Nerd

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