Monday, July 27, 2009

Other Ways to Find Used Books Cheap! Or: An Alternative to Shopping Online & Used Book Stores: Thrift shops!

Most of us know about Used Book Stores. They are usually those wonderful, musty smelling, dungeons of wonderfullness where you can find lost treasures at about half the cover price (depending on your local shop's pricing policies) or for $100 more then you want to ever spend on a book. These are great places to find books of all types. New (old) product comes in all the time from people who are desperate to make space in their lives or who need the extra quick cash. My town also has a Book Exchange store where you bring books in and get a discount on the used books on the shelves (or bring nothing in, and pay regular used book store prices). BUT, to be honest, I don't frequent any of these guys very much anymore. There are other places that get new (old) books all the time...

I have discovered Thrift and Charity Stores. These places have all sorts of books in all sorts of conditions, ha ha. Hint: ALWAYS look through a book to make sure it is complete and not colored in throughout. Smell your books too… no one wants smokey kids books (unless we are talking about a certain bear who wants YOU to prevent forest fires). Plus, if you make a donation of some kind you can sometimes get a percent off coupon at a lot of these places (not Goodwill though).

Goodwill marks most of their books from $0.49 to $4.99 (most children's books stay under $1.99 unless it is an over sized beauty). Every Goodwill has a different person making their prices. So, they very slightly. I have three Goodwill stores in my town (plus a Goodwill outlet, but after one stop there, I never want to go back… besides, they sell by the pound, and that isn't a good deal when it comes to the hardcovers I love). One of my local shops has never had a $0.49 book and they make all kids hardcovers at LEAST $1.99. Another Goodwill in town hardly ever goes above $0.99 for kids' books and hardcovers like Little Golden Books are almost always $0.49 (I buy a lot of this store's books). From what I've gathered, they actually leave the pricing up to the person who takes care of that section instead of implementing a policy. Sadly, Goodwill never puts their books on a color tag sale (50% off for a week), but they do have a website for some of their rarer ones… or ones they THINK are rare ... and some of those are WAY over priced (like a 1992 reprint paperback copy of Professor Wormbog in Search for the Zipperump-A-Zoo with writing in it for $51.99…). A MUCH better place to look for Goodwill books online is This is an auction site, a lot like eBay. Again, some of the stuff has had overpriced starting bids, but some of it is well under. I have no idea how popular it is, but I've used it to get some dang rare kids books for cheap prices… I have also been outbid on things at the last minute…grrrr. Look at the lots that they list, you may find some hidden treasure!

A place called St. Vincent de Paul's has two locations locally and they have a lot of kids books too. They put pricing policies into place within the last year that make Young Adult hardcover books too pricey, but their children's books (7 and under pretty much) are a pretty nice price at $0.99 a piece (100 books for $99.00). I have done plenty of glee filled happy dances at my St. Vincent de Paul stores (books you will see soon on this blog).

Another place called Value Village has kids books for $0.69 a piece, AND they have a buy 4 get 1 free deal (a little over $0.55 each…100 books for $55.20). They only have two tall shelves of kids' books in my local one, but they have multiple bins of books all the time in the back to fill in the gaps (I've seen them wheel out a tall multi-level cart full of large bins of children's books and drool in the want to go through those bins).

I have one local charity place that gives its proceeds to some local special assistance shelters, and they sell ALL of their kids books (baby to young adult/teens) for $0.10 each! Their selection, unfortunately is lacking. But I have spent over $10.00 in there over the last year (that is over 100 books, people, for $10.00…I even purchase some paperbacks *GASP*!). I have no idea what this place is called. They are in a strip mall and the front window has "Used Books" hand painted on it. There are usually developmentally challenged people working in there, and I rarely see any other customers in there when I pick through their books. It is near the place where I get my oil changed. So, I go there every three months. I WISH more people would go there (to give their children's books to charity… not to shop)… hee hee hee.

There are other places in my town including a couple of Animal Shelter / Humane Society thrift stores, Union Gospel Mission thrift store, a Teen Challenge thrift shop, baby clothes thrift shops, consignment shops, even some Pawn shops (not very likely to find books here in most towns, but some have them), and more! Some local churches have big Book sales every year too. Also, check out some of your local "off-price" stores like Ross Dress For Less, Burlington Coat Factory etc... you won't find rare books (normally), but you will find them at a discount.

Not all of these places have Yellow Page listings under "Books -Used and Rare," BUT most of them are in the Yellow Pages under the "Thrift Store" heading. Plus, you can ask your friends and look online to see where there may be hidden books in your town.

My local library has a HUGE book sale once a year, and they have a bookshop that is open all year round with monthly specials and great cheap prices.

Oh, and don't forget about Garage Sales!

Online, you can purchase from eBay, Amazon, AbeBooks, Powell's, etc… but when you are buying used books online, 99 times out of 100 you have to pay shipping. So, those $0.01 books on Amazon, are really $4.00 each because Amazon has a required shipping price of $3.99 for all Amazon sellers (or 100 books for $400.00, OUCH). Those $4.00 books on eBay are really $8.00 (with $4.00 shipping… or slightly cheaper if you have a good seller). I recommend you research your books before paying too much for them online. Do a search on Amazon (in the Books section) for your book title (with and or without the author's name). Some assumed "rare" books just happen to have messed up names on Amazon (or no author's name listed). Don't always take your first hit at face value, look for the small print that says "Other Editions" and you may find a rare book for $0.01 (well, $4.00 with shipping)… if you see something like "Books: See all 107 items" you need to click on that first to be able to see the "Other Editions" choice on the search results page.

The biggest bonus to buying at thrift shops is that you are helping out a charity. Whether it be needy people or animals or something else, your purchases are helping to make a difference… and you are getting something you want! This is a win - win situation! Hopefully you have at least 1 in your town. Go check out some of your local thrift shops today.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Book Swapping Sites or How to Get Free Books

A large amount of my children's books were received through book swapping sites. These sites mostly require you to list books and mail them out on your own dime in order to get credits to ask for other people's books for free. In other words, list 10 or more books that you will never read again and then, hopefully, people will request some of them from you right away.... but be patient. When someone wants one of your books you will get an email notification. Usually, you will have to print out a label or something and then send your books to the requester. Make sure you mark your book as sent, and when you receive a book, mark it as received!

Most of the sites have member reviews, which can help you pick out ones you want.

My experience with these sites has been 99% positive, and the people on them are usually very quick to fix problems if there happens to be any. 85% of the children's hardcovers I've received have been ex-library, but not falling apart.

If you list books, make sure that you list them by the ISBN number. Make sure that your book comes out as the format it really is (Hardcover, Paperback, Library Bound hardcover, etc). Nothing sucks worse then getting a paperback when you want a hardcover (at least to me, ha ha). You can help stop this problem by double checking. This problem usually occurs when someone has to look inside of their book for the ISBN and there are multiple ones in there (or if your book is a book club book). Here are some hints: "Lib Bdg" = Library Binding (AKA Library Bound Hardcover), "Pbk" = Paperback, "Trade" can mean regular hardcover and in some cases paperback. Most of the sites get their listing information from Amazon, and sometimes Amazon is WRONG. All of the sites let you enter a book from scratch if you run into these problems.

Your choice of books is only limited by what other people are willing to send out. The biggest downside is that you have to go to the post office and pay to ship your books out to people. Shipping to you is free though!

My three favorite are listed below, including some of their good and bad points:

Paperback Swap - Book Club to Swap, Trade & Exchange Books for Free. :
An AWESOME site with MILLIONS of books:

A) 2 free credits after listing 10 books.
B) You earn credits by having your books requested, but you do not get the credit until you send the book and the other person receives it and marks it as received. This kinda sucks if things get lost, but if you pay for shipping + delivery confirmation + $0.50 through the site you can get your credit right away.
C) PaperbackSwap has strict condition rules (must list under proper ISBN, book must not be falling apart, no water damage, no teeth marks, etc).
D) It is first-in-first-out. If you are the first person to list a book, your book will be the first to be asked for.
E) They have a "no swapping to sell" rule that they claim to be able to hunt you down if you try (ha ha). They will cancel your membership if they catch you.
F) One big downside, they allow hardcovers to be Dust-jacket-less, and there is no way to know if the book you are going to get will have one or not because they don't have condition notes (if you are ordering a hardcover). I have had many "dang it" moments, but I have also had many woo-hoo moments too!
G) All orders are supposed to be sent within 1 week of being ordered. I usually get my books faster through PaperbackSwap because of this.
H) You Can BUY credits for $3.50 each (plus a total fee of $0.50 is added to your order… I am guessing to cover some of their credit card and/or PayPal costs) if you run across a book you must have but don't have credit for it! This is NICE, but spendy. If you join their SwapaDVD site ( you can trade DVD credits for Book credits (2 DVD credits for 3 book credits)
F) You can make "Requester's Conditions" requirements like "NO Smoke smelly books" that a person will have to comply with before sending you their copy of a book. If you receive something that doesn't fit your requirements, you can get your credit back (and recycle or give that smelly book to charity).
G) They have a wish list and they will email you and hold the book for a couple days for you to order it (limited to 200 titles currently, and the first person to "Wish" for a book will get first option to order it).
H) You can give other credits.
I) OVER 3.7 million books to choose from!
J) Free to join, free to be a member (for now)


(Logo artwork courtesy of

A GREAT site with ove a million books from all over the WORLD:
A) 1 free credit for EVERY 10 books listed (1/10 of a credit per book) (list 100 books, get 10 free credits).
B) You earn 1/10 of a credit by marking a book received (receive 100 books, get 10 free credits).
C) You immediately get a credit when someone asks for your books (10 books requested = 10 credits)
D) You can get Books from other countries! They cost an extra credit, but there are probably some great books out there that aren't in your country!
E) You immediately get a credit when someone asks for your books.
F) You can't buy credits on BookMooch.
G) There are optional condition notes. It is always great when you can read that a book comes from a smoke free home and is in brand new condition.
H) You can request any book you want based on condition notes. In other words, if 75 people have the book you want, you get to pick and choose which person you want to "mooch" from.
I) People can take as long as they want to send your book… I waited over 6 months for one, but that was an extreme case. A lot of people on a budget only send out books once a month up to a certain dollar amount, and they tell you that on their page.
J) They have a wish list. Bookmooch will just send you an email when someone lists a book, and then you have to hope that you are the first person to the site to order it. One nice thing about the list is that it is unlimited.
K) You can give credits to others.
L) Pretty much advertisement free
M) Over 1 million books to choose from!
N) Free to join, free to be a member

Frugal Reader
Not the best but certainly not the worst:

A) List at least 9 books, and get TWO free credits. Once someone receives your book(s) you will get your credit(s)
B) You can become a "Premium Member" after two of your books are requested and received (there are some perks for this).
C) You can buy credits for $2.99 to $3.49 each (depending on how many you buy at a time).
D) Not as popular as Book Mooch or Paperback Swap. So, the selection is lacking.
E) People can set their books to cost more then 1 credit, and hardcovers are usually 2 credits. So, someone can "jack-up" their "prices" for current popular books, or be nice and keep them at 1 or 2 credits. I have seen a hardcover that I really wanted on there for 6 credits ($17.94), but I refused to pay that.
F) There is a wish list.
G) People can list condition information
H) Some annoying advertisements.
I) Over 29,000 books to choose from
J) Free to Join, free to be a member

There are other companies out there, but these are the main three for me. Some of the others are linked below. Feel free to tell me about others, please!


Recycle your books and get new-to-you ones!

Related links: (not just books, but $2 fee per trade, ugh) (UK swapping site, so, I've never used it) (great DVD swapping site, connected to PaperbackSwap)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Secret Confessions of a Hardcover Lover or Why I Love Hardcovers!

I love hardcovers (or hardbacks to some people). I love their heft. I love their feel. They feel safe to me, and they feel important. I prefer them in all that I read. Whether it be to my children or to myself. I do own 100's of paperbacks, but I wish they were all hardcovers. In fact, I am constantly searching for hardcovers to replace the paperbacks that I cherish.

Why am I a hardcover snob? Hmm. Good question. I grew up with paperbacks, and I don't remember them falling apart back then. Nowadays, I seem to buy brand new children's paperbacks and the middle sections fall out just by turning the pages. When I get "vintage" kids paperbacks (anything over 20 years old), the staples are rusting and/or falling apart a lot of the times, or the glue is deteriorating and the pages just fall out. This has happened to my four-year-old son as he reads to himself. He sits there quietly turning the pages, and then a group of four pages fall out, *plop* in his hands. He looks up at me with a pained and anguished expression in his eyes. His mouth forming an excuse that he doesn't have, "I… I…" He has "hurt" the book he loves, and it is almost too much to burden. Then, of course, I have to "fix it"… somehow. If anyone has advice on how to fix these problems, PLEASE tell me.

I do not care if my hardcovers are ex-library. In fact, ex-library ones usually have special extra secure bindings! Of course, I still don't prefer them because the 30 and 40-year-old ones are usually pretty tattered from re-readings. I recently noticed on Amazon that you can buy a lot of the new children's books as (not ex-library but) library bound hardcovers (for about $10.00+ more then the paperback). The price hurts, and I personally haven't made that jump.

I prefer my hardcovers to have dust jackets. Especially if they don't have a picture printed on the cover itself! Why? Because there is usually exclusive artwork on the dust jacket, and artwork is a big part of children's books. I have bought many children's books just because of the awesome artwork (what parent hasn't?).

There is one more BIG reason that I want hardcovers, and there is a stipulation here, to be specific, first edition hardcovers… not because of their collectibillity but because a lot of kids books get edited over time. Why? Who knows? My guess is that publishers start deleting pages to save printing costs. I will write another blog about this very soon, but I will mention one book now: The classic original Little Critter book, "Just for You" by Mercer Mayer. The first printing has about 6 or more pages of artwork and story that are totally missing from the edition that you buy today. For a preview, see the pictures I uploaded onto Amazon's page for it here: Just for You

Of course, some books are so rare or hard to find, that I am satisfied to buy a paperback for cheap if I run across it at Goodwill or another thrift store... BUT I will still be constantly searching for the hardcover to replace it with.

Monday, July 6, 2009

What was the name of that book again? or How to find out what those books are from your past!

Have you ever been perplexed by a book from your past? Or one that your kids remember, but you don't? Have you lost the title? Have you forgotten the author's name? Can you only remember one drawing and that is it? Or maybe just one line from it? Have you gotten to the point where you think you DREAMED it all because no one else seems to remember?

If you can remember pieces of it, but you just can't get the title or author right to be able to satisfy that itch of remembrance then there MAY be help for you! This has happened a few times to me, and I still can't figure out one children's book from my past (and one movie). The Internet is a lovely thing. Even if you can only remember that the book was oblong and had a whole menagerie of zoo animals packed into a bus on the cover… someone might know EXACTLY what book you are talking about.

Please help other people on these sites too. I do it all the time in my spare time. OH, and please go back and tell them if they got it right (and say thank you too, ha ha). Don't get too frustrated if no one seems to know. I give each site a month (I'm patient), and then post to the next site.

Helpful hints:

1) Post the exact year you read the book (or time frame) (IE: 1979 or 2005), and the year you think it was from.

2) Post where you found the book (IE: Book store in Vancouver Canada or Grade School Library in Southern California). Some books are only printed in specific countries, and some are by "local authors."

3) Tell as much of the story as you can and quote it if you can. (IE: two kids walk into a house that might be haunted and see the "twisted remains of a dead.. battery." They go inside… blah blah…).

4) Be specific with your details (IE Purple cover with black and white drawings on every other page)

5) Reading level of book (IE: 1st grade, 5th grade, adult)... in other words, how old were you at the time.

6) Hardcover or Paperback?

7) Put information in your title… not just "what book is this" (IE: "Book about a vampire bunny and the cat who tries to destroy him")

Memory is a funny thing, and we all get things wrong, but don't be scared to over-describe. One little detail is all some people need to have the "Ah ha!" reaction.

So, an example post would be (this is the one that I haven't been able to figure out):

TITLE: 80's book 2 Kids go into a spooky house and see the "twisted remains of a dead battery"

BODY: Illustrated hardcover book (pen and ink, black and white, cartoony on almost every other page) probably around 40-60 pages, with Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) like structure, but I don't remember there actually being choices. I just remember having to flip to another part of the book. The book may have had a purple cover with a haunted house on it. It may have been written in the second person ("You walk up the sink..." etc).
Reading level: about 3rd to 5th grade. I don't think it had chapters because of its CYOA qualities.
This was a hardcover in my grade school's library, in southern California, that I read around 1985-1987 (could have come out earlier).
Plot: Two boys (brothers I think) venture into a scary house. They think the house is haunted.
The pages ended with cliffhangers that always end up being quite funny:
Almost verbatim I remember that as they come to the front door, they look down at the door mat and see, "the twisted dead remains of…" (turn to page XX…*flip flip flip*) "a battery!"
Thank you for your help!

Here are some of the sites I've used and looked at. If you know of others PLEASE COMMENT and I can add them on here:

What's That Book:
A quick way to list your question with a free sign up! This one has categories to make helping and listing easier.

What Was That Book (LiveJournal):
Organized by last one posted. All posts are monitored before being posted. You have to be a LiveJournal member (free).

What Was That One (LiveJournal)
See above… but this one also does other general questions including Movies.

Loganberry Books' Stump the Bookseller:
NOT Free to post, but pretty accurate (to a point, I found one mistake about a Mercer Mayer Little Monster book that they labeled as the "correct answer") . You can answer any ones you want. I just wish there was a way to put all the newest ones at the top of the list… or all unanswered ones. It makes it easier for people to help out.

LibraryThing's Name That Book
LibraryThing is an AWESOME site for getting organized, and you can join for free (there are payment options if you have a lot of books). I haven't used this forum yet, but I will!

Barnes and Noble's Lost Books:
A Discussion forum at Barnes and Noble's website.

Aunt Book

Yahoo Answers Book section:;_ylt=Aiiil2YSMuL_tRlN7KJm0y.IxQt.;_ylv=3?sid=396545299&link=list
Not specifically for these questions, but I've seen them on there.

Amazon discussion forum
Find your genre, post your question

Google Books
Not a community, but a great way to search with only pieces of information.

Good Reads


Good luck and Happy Hunting!