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.