Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cheap Reads

My workspace and a few of my books
I love books.  I've often said that I'm addicted to books.  I certainly show some signs of being addicted at times, getting shaky and irritable if I'm kept from an engrossing tale too long or spending grocery money on books instead of food--actually, that's part of how I got so good about feeding people on such a tight budget!  Fortunately, I have a couple thrifty ways to deal with my addiction.

The number one way I get books is from the library.  I feel incredibly blessed that we live in an area with a fantastic library system.  We have 13 branches plus a bookmobile for areas not near a permanent branch, but I'm only about 3 miles away from one of the branches so I haven't personally interacted with the bookmobile.  They have just about any book I want somewhere in the library system, so all I have to do if I want a book is request it online and it will magically appear at the front desk, usually within days!  I can even preorder books that haven't come out yet, sometimes months in advance, so I'm not tempted to buy them.  On the rare occurrence that they don't have a book I want, Michigan has an amazing interlibrary loan system set up as well.  Between our local library system and the state's interlibrary loan system, I have easy access to just about any book I could possibly want.

Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap.
The only problem then is that sometimes, I don't want to give the books back and renewing only goes so far.  This rarely happens for my fiction books or the homeschooling books for the kids, but there are a lot of nonfiction books that I like to use again and again.  For these, I had to have a different source.  I know a lot of people like to browse used book stores, but for me, this is too chancy.  I have high standards of finding the exact books I want, so for this, I turn to a much larger online source, primarily Paperbackswap.com.  This is my absolute favorite of all the book swapping sites I've found on the web, and believe me when I tell you that I've tried a few!  One of my favorite things is that the site is free.  Just join, login, post books for trading and you get a couple credits each good for a book (or 2 credits for an audio book) right off the bat.  Once you mail off the books you have listed, you get a credit for each book, good for any other book in the system and right this second there are nearly 5,000,000 books in the system!  That's a pretty darn big used book store!  And you only have to pay for postage (about $2.50 for most books)!  It is super easy to mail a book from this site too.  When a book is requested, tell it you can mail the book and by when, then click the prompts to print your mailing label.  It even gives you the option to print the postage right onto the label from home.  Then, depending on the weight of the book and whether you put postage on it or not, you can either drop it off in your mailbox at home or take it down to the post office.  That's it.  Easy peasy!  If you want a book that isn't in the system, there is even a wish list feature, so you can let Paperbackswap.com know that you'd like a book when it does become available and it sticks you in line for that item.  When it becomes available, you have 48 hours that it is held just for you before it goes to the next person in line or to the general public if no one else has it on their wish list.  Nice!  Most of the books in the picture above came from Paperbackswap.com over the years that I've been using the service!  According to the site, I've saved over $3,000 by trading books there instead of buying them from a used bookstore.  I'd hate to see how much I'd have spent if I was silly enough to buy all those books new!

My third favorite place to get books is by random people giving them to me.  Sometimes this is people I know, sometimes it is strangers through Freecycle or a similar organization.  Again, this is a very random way to do it, but at least they are free and a lot of times books I don't want are listed on someone else's wish list on Paperbackswap.com, so I can trade them on there for something I do want!


  1. sooo, i love books, cheap books, used books, new books. and i'm ok with germs... BUT library books gross me out. we have a lot of homeless people who use our (one) local library and it seams to me that maybe washing isn't a top priority. and also, i don't know about you, but sometimes i read in the bathroom. (only books i own) and i really don't like the idea of my kids handling something that has maybe been in the bathroom or been sneezed on and then let sit... it just seams like library books are... well, gross?
    but i love the idea of a book swap, i promise, nothing thats been in the BR. ;)

  2. lol I come from the school of thought that a little bit of germs are good for the immune system, but I see your point. Maybe a light (non-damaging) sanitizing spray of vinegar and/or a bit of tea tree oil on every book as soon as it is brought home would re-open the library to you?

  3. Y'all do me a favor: if you do join Paperbackswap.com after reading this, please do it through one of the links on this post or the button on the sidebar so I get the credit for referring you. That'll get me a free book, in addition to your 2 when you post 10 books to trade!

  4. so i am a big fan of germs lol! i'm a little eager to give it a try, my local bookshop that sells used went under and my other local bookshop that sell new just raised prices... sad face.
    btw, i kind of a little bit love your blog :)

  5. Just a little bit love it? *sniff, sniff* ;-)