How to keep feeding your book hunger while on a budget, Part 1

This is post one of two on saving money while still indulging in expanding your TBR pile. Because, y’know, sometimes you just need new books!

Long post is LONG.

Part 1: Buying Books

I normally buy my books through Amazon for two reasons: I have Prime shipping free for at least a year (which means I don’t have to spend $25 to get freebie shipping) and I’ve got a Kindle so it’s normally easier (and cheaper) to buy ebooks directly from them.

If you don’t use Amazon a lot some of these tips might not apply to you, unfortunately. Instead, I’d recommend you make BigWords your best friend. It’s a site that aggregates book prices from tons of different online stores all in one swoop, so you can see where the cheapest price is for a book (including shipping).

Shopping Tips

Tip #1

Keep an eye out for bargains. If you can wait and NOT buy a book full price, do so. Amazon sometimes puts certain formats of books on “bargain price,” which mostly means under $5 for YA books and under $10 for adult books. What I do is periodically check my wishlisted books and see if there’s been a price change somewhere. It’s a little time-consuming, but it’s also a good way to prune my wishlist of books I’ll never read, anyway. If you don’t have time to check each week, you could only check after major holidays, especially after Thanksgiving and then again after Christmas or Labor Day.

Tip #2

Coupons! This is sort of obvious, so I’ll keep it short. Sign up for bookstore newsletters and they’ll let you know if they’re having a sale or giving out coupons, like Borders’ infamous 40% off coupons, or their even more infamous 50/60% off coupons.

Tip #3

Don’t spend your own money when you can help it. I’m not saying to go around stealing money in order to fund your book habit. I mean do stuff online that rewards you with gift cards! Or money, though that normally takes longer.

I have a few things I do in order to get Amazon gift cards (besides beg my parents for them for Christmas, of course). Last month, October, I bought four books and only spent $12.62 of my own money instead of $20.25 (that’s including two bargain books. Would have been maybe $15-20 more if they weren’t on sale). Pretty good!

Getting Amazon gift cards

1. Swagbucks
I discovered Swagbucks through another blog– I forget which now– but I’m already heavily in love with it because a) it’s super easy to use, b) it’s super easy to earn enough points for prizes and c) they actually send the prizes when they say they will. So far I’ve gotten $20 in Amazon Gift cards and I’m halfway to getting another already. It takes 450 points to get a gift card, and it takes me about two weeks to get that amount. And then another 10 days for them to send it to me, but whatever, it gets here eventually.

Swagbucks has gift cards available for:,,, Barnes & Noble, and even Paypal, although they each cost different amounts of points. You can also get rewards for non-gift card stuff, but this post is about books, not video games or keychains.

2. Doing small jobs on Mechanical Turk.
Mechanical Turk is basically the Amazon version of Microworkers, except with even shittier pay and more time-wasting activities. But if you can get a decently-paying job, or if you just keep at the small jobs long enough, you’ll eventually either earn enough to deposit into your bank account ($10 minimum) or turn into an Amazon gift card ($1 minimum). I almost always do the gift cards because I don’t have enough patience to wait ’til I get $10 in there.

3. Selling back books on Amazon
I’ve only done this once before, but it was really handy for some textbooks that I’ve had for YEARS and haven’t been able to sell. Basically, you send your decent-condition textbooks to a third party through Amazon (free shipping, by the way) and if they approve of them, they’ll send you a gift card for the amount you sold them for. Sometimes apparently they DON’T approve, but I’m assuming that’s for textbooks in not-good condition.

Might be good if you have extra books/video games/DVDs lying around.

Besides Amazon

BookMooch (world)/PaperbackSwap (US)/ (US)/Read It Swap It (UK)/etc, where you list books you have, send them to people who request them, and then request books of your own. Normally I think this makes books cost less than $3 each (in the US, at least), but it still adds up pretty quick, and sometimes it’s hard to find books you want for yourself (which is why I have ~25 credits on BookMooch and nothing to spend them on).

Library book sales, yard sales, used book stores, etc, where you can find books for really cheap most times. My library’s sales tend to have some really good books for $0.25-$1, and they also have two annual $3-a-bag sales, where you stuff as many books in a paper bag as you can and the entire thing is only $3. Check out your own library’s website to see if they do something similar. As for yard sales? This site might help you find some, though now that it’s winter here in the northern hemisphere they might be scarce. Used books stores can be found in the yellow pages (or Google if you’re lazy).

BookSwim, which is like Netflix for books. You rent a book, read it, then send it back. I haven’t used it, myself, but I know people who like it. They charge a monthly fee, I think.

Part two: Finding Free Books to Borrow or Keep!

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