Dear Reader

Random musings on reading and books from a librarian in training.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Reading on the cheap

While the economy continues its free fall, many of us are trying to cut down on unnecessary expenses and looking for ways to save. I've started clipping coupons again and have now vowed not to look at my 401K statement for a long time.

What about those books, hmm? To paraphrase a famous quote, "Give me bread and books."

Here's a few ways I try to keep my book spending under control.

*Swapping - There are a plethora of swapping sites out there. Some specialize just in books, while others include books, CDs, DVDs and games. My personal favorite is Paperbackswap ( To get started you need to post 10 books and get two credits. If someone requests one of your books, you pay to mail it to them earning a credit. You can use that credit to request a book from someone else.

One feature I use on the site is the wish list - I've listed several books that I would like that are currently not in the system. When that book becomes available, I can either set it up so that it's automatically ordered or I receive an email alerting me. (For example, I recently received Neptune Noir, which is all about my favorite girl detective, Veronica Mars. PS: CW you still suck.)

When I read a book, I try to be very critical about whether I want to keep it or swap it. I've also picked up books for cheap along the way that I had a feeling would be in high demand with the sole aim of swapping them.

*The library - I wish I took more advantage of my library instead of too often giving into my book hoarding impulses. What could be cheaper than free?! Most libraries these days also have books on tape, CDs, DVDs and good old VHS tapes. If your library doesn't have what you're looking for, there's a good chance that they're part of a network. For instance, my library is part of the Minuteman Library Network, which means I can request materials from dozens of libraries. Many libraries also have museum passes available and free Internet access.

Libraries are also host to a variety of events: ESL lessons, movies, children's story time, book clubs, lectures, music, etc. I could go on!

* Used books - I occasionally hit a used book store new my house, Annie's Book Stop. The books are usually significantly cheaper than brand new books. With Annie's, I'll return books that I bought there previously for store credit.

Over the years, I've picked up used books many places along the way: garage sales, thrift stores, sidewalk carts and library sales. I LOVE the book sale the Friends of group does at my library. I've been able to pick up some neat, quirky books that were very inexpensive.

* Friends/family - I tend to freak out about lending books, especially ones I like, for fear I'll never see them. I have been lending more lately ... baby steps. But sharing books with friends and family is a great way to get more exposure for books and authors you enjoy. It's also a great way to find new authors/ books that you might not have picked up on your own.

Happy reading!

1 comment:

Jeff Winkler said...

It's funny how everyone has their own fave swap site. I used BookMooch for a while, but the credits thing is a pain. Moved to SwapTree. Swapping all media types, 3 way trades, and quid pro quo make it better IMO.

Gotta love the MinuteMan library search! I recommend adding a firefox keyword, swl, to point to

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