Buying Books on a Budget

Many people involved in the book community buy a lot of books. Writers have to read avidly in their genre to learn their craft and keep up with the trends, and new hyped releases are coming out all the time. Plus, if you run a bookstagram (like I do), taking pictures of all the books on your shelf is kind of the whole point.

But hoarding books like a story-crazy dragon can get pretty expensive. A new hardcover can run you upwards of twenty dollars, and most of us don't want to spend that much on just one book. So how are you supposed to buy popular books without breaking the bank?

Never fear! Here are some great places to get your miserly mitts on the books you want ... for cheap!


Thriftbooks is currently my go-to site for buying used books. Not only are they super cheap, but you get free shipping on orders over ten dollars -- by far the lowest threshold I've seen (unless you have Amazon Prime, of course). Also, for every $50 you spend, you get a free book! 

The quality of the books can vary somewhat (and I only ever buy books with a "good" or better rating), but personally I don't mind my books being slightly battered in return for a good deal (as long as they're still readable, there aren't any major tears, and nobody's written in them). 

To give you an idea of the quality of books from this site, here are some pictures of my hardcover copy of A Thousand Pieces of You, which is probably the most battered book I've received from Thriftbooks (it was listed as "very good," which was a bit odd, but it only cost $3.79). The spine is a little skewed, the cover has a couple of grubby marks on it, and the dust jacket is crinkled at the top.

By contrast, here is my pristine copy of One of Us is Lying, which was also listed as "very good" on Thriftbooks. Not so much as a crease on the book jacket! (The paper crinkle effect is printed on the cover as part of the design.)

So if I'm honest, Thriftbooks can be a bit of a crapshoot in terms of quality, but they're cheap and their customer service is great (one of my orders got returned to the sender, and they sent me a replacement free of charge, no questions asked -- and if the original order eventually shows up, I'll get to keep it!).

Book Outlet

I haven't bought any books from Book Outlet yet, but I probably will in the future. There are a couple of key differences when compared to Thriftbooks: the free shipping threshold is $35, BUT the books aren't strictly second-hand -- they're mostly returns/overstocks from publishers or bookstores, which means that they're in like-new condition except for a small pen mark on the side. So if you can live with a little pen mark, you'll be golden!

Also, they have a clearance title section where you can get books for less than two dollars. And remember, these things are like new. My bargain spidey-sense is tingling ...

UPDATE 6/4/2020: Due to Book Outlet's recent comments about black booktubers, I can no longer recommend using them as a place to buy cheap books. Yes, their service may have been great, but there are plenty of other stores out there that aren't, you know, racist.

Amazon sellers

Obviously, you can get new books directly from Amazon too, but sometimes you can get used books from other sellers for way cheaper. I just bought a like-new, hardback copy of Four Dead Queens for $7 (including shipping) this way.

Library book sales

At my local library, there's a shelf of books (usually ex-library or donations) that you can buy at a rate of $1 for a hardback and 50 cents for a paperback. And of course, since you can actually see the books, you can assess the quality for yourself. Now that's what I call a bargain!

What are your favorite places to buy books on the cheap? Let me know in the comments!


  1. I love purchasing books, but I have no more room for books and I don't have the heart to donate more of them to charity, so I'm going to do the best I can to avoid purchasing more in the future tbh. Which is the reason I decided to join the library, allowing me to read more without overrunning the place with books.