The Book Nook

Confidential: My Book-Buying Secrets

*** Disclaimer: this is not a sponsored post. I am not affiliated or payed by any of the businesses mentioned below. This post is written strictly from my personal experience and/or knowledge that I wish to share.

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Do you love to read?

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Do you love to buy books? Do you love to buy affordable books?

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If you answered “yes” to any of these questions then you came to the right place!

It’s that time of the year again when school is out and summer has begun. It’s that time when you can toss away all the boring schoolbooks and textbooks you read and finally bring the books your heart truly desires into the light … you know, the ones you had to keep on your bookshelf (or closet), where it was collecting dust for almost a year.

Who else is guilty?

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Summer is not only the perfect time to read books, but to buy books as well. It’s a good time to treat yourself after a hardworking year of school and to celebrate the end of exams (I know that’s what I do. That way, if I get a bad mark, at least I’ve got a new book to put a smile on my face. And hey, if I get a good mark, then I’ve got double the reasons to be happy. It’s a win-win!).

But as all readers know, books can be expensive.

If you buy a newly released hardcover book, you’ll be lucky to spend 20$ on it. A trade paperback will be more than 10$. Sure, you can wait a year for the hardcover to go into soft copy, but what if you binge-read all the other books in the series and you can’t wait to find out what happens next? You don’t want to wait a year to find out because a lot can happen in a year. You’re going to be reading a lot more books and you may forget everything that happened. Or maybe you’ll forget about this book altogether.

20$ is also expensive for a book. It might not seem that expensive but if you had 100$ in your pocket and wanted to buy hardcover books, the most you could afford is 4 hardcover books and maybe one trade paperback (I’m just ballparking here, it could be more or it could be less. I’m also including tax into this).

As for a trade paperback, if you do the math, you might be able to buy 9 books with 100$, which seems more reasonable if it’s a debate between quantity over quality. But everyone has their preferences over what type of book binding they want to buy or how much they’re willing to spend. So I’m going to share with you some of my tips and tricks for buying books and saving money, especially if you’re a student who’s going to have to fork up 100$ or more on those textbooks next year (or you can use these tips to save some money on buying schoolbooks so you can buy even more books!)

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1. Garage Sales

This is why I say summer is the perfect time to buy books because the weather is nice outside, and after doing all the spring cleaning, people want to get rid of their stuff. They want to get rid of things so badly that they’ll have a garage sale and discount them at such a low price … this includes books.

In the summertime, my mom is always looking for garage sales to take me to. Of course, there’s no absolute chance of finding what you’re looking for. Sometimes you win some, sometimes you lose some. Sometimes you find something you weren’t even looking for in the first place. But you’ll be surprised about what you could find there. After all, a person’s junk could be another person’s treasure.

A few years ago, I went to a garage sale and bought around 13 books and spent approximately 20$ in total. I’m not even joking. The best part was that someone was selling The Hunger Games Collector’s Edition, and me being a total Hunger Games fanatic, couldn’t resist. I’ve been searching for that edition everywhere to add to my collection but because I already had a copy of the book, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on it, especially when the retail price was the amount I payed for the entire series altogether.

Screenshot of The Hunger Games: Collector’s Edition at Indigo
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When I first spotted the book, my heart began to race. I remember shaking so much that everything around me just blurred. Time stopped. I asked how much it was, my voice trembling just like the rest of me. When the person said the amount, I was having heart palpitations.

Do you want to know how much they were asking?

25 CENTS!

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I know! I ran to my mom as fast as possible and asked her for 50 cents (I also wanted to buy another book). My mom noticed how unusually jumpy I was and decided not to ask any questions, seeing that I was in a hurry. She gave me the money and I ran back to pick up the books and buy them before anyone else tried to steal the deal from me.

Even after I held the book in my hand, my heartbeat wouldn’t slow down. I was scared that this was all a dream. I have put my faith in saving money on books ever since.

2. Thrift Stores

Just like garage sales, thrift stores are a good place to shop for book deals. My mom and I go to the nearest Value Village for donated and used books. She buys her cookbooks and I buy my Young Adult books. This is also a good place to look for textbooks or schoolbooks because everyone wants to get rid of that ASAP.

Value Village Book Prices
Photo taken by AlyMarie Fox
No copyright infringement intended

I’ve included a picture of Value Village’s Canadian prices above. Below are the prices to The Salvation Army Thrift Store. To be honest, I haven’t bought anything at The Salvation Army (I just never found anything), but look at those prices! I come here just because I want to be able to buy books for that price!

The Salvation Army Thrift Store Prices
Photo taken by AlyMarie Fox
No copyright infringement intended

Again, there’s no certainty that you’ll find what you’re looking for but you may end up finding something else. There are also certain books and authors that I noticed are ALMOST ALWAYS in stock, so if you’re looking for these titles, you may want to ditch spending the 20$ on one or two books and choose to spend it on the complete series instead.

To give you an idea, I completed my Harry Potter collection thanks to Value Village. I borrowed the books from the library when I was younger but as I got older, I still wanted to have the books. My bookshelf felt empty without the complete series. I was also picky in the sense that I wanted the original covers, not the newer childlike ones designed by Jonny Duddle. Don’t get me wrong, they’re beautiful covers but they would clash with the old Harry Potter books I already owned. As for the original covers, I couldn’t let myself buy books I already read at their regular (and expensive!) price.

I even bought all thirteen books in A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket at Value Village. I never read the books as a child. I saw the movie a while back but before I watched the Netflix show that already came out, I wanted to read the books first (even though I did watch the show before I finished the books because I got too impatient to find out what happened next but that’s not the point). I also didn’t want to buy all the books at their regular price … especially when I’ve outgrown these short children chapter books a long time ago!

Screenshot of A Series of Unfortunate Events Box Set at Indigo
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If you look at the Value Village prices above, you probably know by now how much I spent.

Yup, 1.79$ each.

Basically, you will find the most popular books and authors that you may have already read or that you have at least heard of in thrift shops like Value Village … and there will most likely be multiple copies to choose from.

For instance:

Photo taken by AlyMarie Fox
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During one of my visits, I saw all these Fifty Shades of Grey books by E.L. James together, practically taking up an entire shelf and I couldn’t not take a picture. I don’t think it even needs a caption; this photo speaks for itself.

Because these books are donated, they are most likely used. Some of the books here will be in good condition. Others may look damaged. For anyone picky about how their books look, you may have to wait sometimes before you find the book you want in a close-to-new condition. If there’s a mark, a stain, a tear, or even someone’s name, I won’t buy the book. I believe that if you’re patient and if it’s meant to be, you will find the book you’re looking for.

And if you’re still apprehensive of having used books in your home, my mom gets me to clean every book we buy with a Lysol wipe, so your book will look (and smell) shiny and new!

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Just remember, your closest thrift shop might be different than mine so this is just an example. Every thrift store is different from the rest because there’s no guarantee on what you’ll find. It all depends on what people donate. You can try checking back every two weeks or so to allow more books to come into the mix or visit other locations around you.

You can find your nearest Value Village or The Salvation Army locations here.

3. Book Clearing

Be proud that you’re a reader. For one, it’s who you are, so make sure you express it.  Two, maybe you’ll come across a reader like you!  And three, you are subtly advertising your home of books to others who just might be looking for a new caregiver to take in their unwanted books.

Now this may be a hit or miss.  Not everyone will come to you saying, Hey I’m looking to get rid of my books, would you like to take them?  And it’s not like you could go around saying, Hi, my name is blank and I love books so if you’re ever looking for someone to give your books to when you want to get rid of them, hit me up.

I mean you could, but that’s a very blunt way of doing it.

Whether you’re blunt or subtle about your book obsession, like I said before, this is a hit or miss situation. Not everyone is looking to clear out their books and not everyone might go to you. Not everyone will have the books you’re interested in either. But if the opportunity arises, seize it. Like my mom always says, “When you least expect it….”

And it’s true. It makes my day when my friends, family, neighbours or my mom’s co-workers offer their books to me. Even if I already have the books or not all of them pique my interest, I still enjoy the whole book-browsing experience and the possibility of opening my library to other books looking for a home.

Plus, I don’t know about you, but I’m very curious to know what other people have read.

4. Book Exchange

We Share Everything by Robert Munsch Book Cover
Retrieved from Indigo
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I used to exchange my books with friends when I was little. I used to create an Excel spreadsheet to record who borrowed what book, when I lent it and when I wanted it back. I was basically a librarian in my own little library. However, as I grew older, I grew more protective over my books and their conditions so I refused to let anyone borrow them. Even someone touching my book without my permission makes me wary and I transform into Mama Bear, ready to protect my cubs.

The only exception to my crazy Mama Bear antics is when it comes to old schoolbooks. This might be book-discriminatory so forgive me, but I really couldn’t care less about what happens to my schoolbooks after I pass the course. Once the class is over and the grade is received, they’re kind of dead to me.  So if a friend of mine is taking a course I previously took, I will gladly offer my schoolbooks to them. Heck, I would let them keep the book.

But if you’re not as crazy or picky as me, and you’re simply looking to read a story, you and a friend could do a book exchange. Chances are, you and your friend probably have similar book interest that you don’t need to go out and buy your own copy. Or you and your friend have similar courses to take.

After all, sharing is caring, right?

5. The Library

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If you like having clean, unmarked, new books to keep on your shelves and to reread whenever you want, then you probably don’t like library books. To be honest, neither do I. Now I know this is a redundant option, and I know some of you might have looked at this list for ways to avoid the library, so here are my suggestions that might help you when it comes to using library books.

I only use the library for the sole purpose of reading books once and reading books I don’t want to buy i.e. schoolbooks. In my English classes, I have to read approximately a book a week or two. Now, if I take more than one English class a semester, the number may double. So does the cost of all these books.

In my first year at University, I made the mistake of buying all my books because the fear of failing or getting screwed over if I didn’t own the book got the best of me. Now I’m left with a pile of books and regret in my room.

In my second year, I decided to take the risk of borrowing books from the library and the outcome worked out well for me. I didn’t get screwed over after all. The best part was that I was able to save my money for books I actually want to buy and keep. And hey, if you liked any of the books you read, you could always buy them (maybe you can find them at a thrift store for a cheap price if you don’t want to pay retail price).

However, if you do like reading library books and the smell nor condition of their books seem to bother you, but you like keeping these books forever, then you can check your local library to see if they have a sale section. Yes, you read that right.

I didn’t know libraries sold their items … or maybe I just never noticed because I haven’t been to a library in ages. Whoops!

When I volunteered at my local library in high school, I would spend my time before or after my shift in their sale section, where they sold books, movies, CD’s and magazines. I don’t know why they were selling them (I mean, it’s not like they were in any worse condition than a library book already is). I would have considered buying the books there, but they taped a plastic cover and had library stickers on the book that seemed too difficult to remove without damaging the cover, so I didn’t want to take the chance. I did however buy magazines to hang up pictures of my favourite celebrities on my walls and to cut up for art projects.

I used to spend any leftover change in my wallet on magazines. Yes, you read that right again. The magazines were just 25 cents!

Library Sale Prices
Photo taken by AlyMarie Fox
No copyright infringement intended

Here’s a photo of the prices from my library above. Just remember that prices may vary wherever you are, just like this sale option.

Does your library have a sale section? I know my school libraries had yearly events dedicated to selling their books but that was it. It was for a limited time only, not a permanent option. Let me know in the comments, I’m actually very curious to know if this is an actual thing or if my library just happens to have this.

6. Online Shopping (Book Outlet, Chapters/Indigo)

A lot of my book-buying doesn’t happen in the store anymore, as much as I hate to admit it. Instead, I buy my books online because you can find the books you want at a discounted price. I’m not just talking about Amazon and eBay (I never bought a book from them but I’m sure you might find books at a lower price.)

No, I’m talking about bookstore chains like Chapters/Indigo (if you live in Canada), the stores that everyone knows and goes to for books, the stores with online shops as well. If you live outside of Canada, you probably have similar bookstores.

If you’re looking for new, clean and unused books but not willing to spend the retail price, I suggest you consider checking your local bookstore’s online shop. I know it’s not the same as buying books in-store and it might seem like a totally lazy and millennial thing to do, but it has its benefits, aside from being able to shop wherever you are at the tip of your finger and being able to save on gas money.

If you’re not subscribed to Indigo’s or your local bookstore’s mailing list, then you should be. That is the first place where you’ll find any deals or promotions. Every Monday, Indigo sends an email showcasing the online deals of the week and that is my go-to place before I decide to buy anything (and the only reason I look forward to Monday’s).

Screenshot of Indigo’s Deals of the Week
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And if you don’t want to sign up for your bookstore’s mailing list (for whatever reason), I’m sure checking weekly on their website or following their social media accounts will keep you up-to-date.

Another online retail store you should try out is Book Outlet. A friend of mine told me about this store, and though I never visited the store’s location nor have I bought a book online from them (my friend did buy books for me when she went, if that counts), that hasn’t stopped me from going online and checking out their books.

Screenshot of Book Outlet’s website
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They have a pretty good selection of books and they keep updating their stock so I’m sure you will find something. And if you live in Canada, you get free shipping after spending 45$ or more. If you live near the St. Catharines store location, you have a free ship-to-store option.

Now, this doesn’t mean you can never go into a store to browse or even buy a book! Sometimes it might seem reasonable to just buy the book in-store instead. Sometimes the online price might be a dollar difference than the in-store price. Maybe there is no difference. Maybe you don’t care to save that dollar online. Maybe there’s an in-store deal that’s better than the online price.

All I’m suggesting is to keep an eye out for different prices in-store and online because you have options. And these options can help save you money.

7. Bookstore Membership, Deals and Offers

Some bookstores offer a membership program with exclusive deals and offers. Just like subscribing to your bookstore’s mailing list or following them on social media, this is a must for readers. If you want to know when you should buy cheap books, staying up-to-date with your bookstore’s deals, offers or exclusive rewards is the best way to go.

Indigo has two rewards programs if you want to check them out here:

Screenshot of Indigo’s Rewards Programs
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I’m a Plum Rewards Member at Indigo and a Book Outlet Rewards member. Below are the list of points and their equivalent savings:

Screenshot of Indigo’s Plum Rewards
Retrieved from my Indigo Plum Rewards account
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Screenshot of Book Outlet Rewards
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Both programs are based on a point system. When you collect a certain amount of points from your purchases, you get a certain amount of money off your future purchase.

The best time to buy books and get more points to later redeem is to keep an eye out for point offers. Indigo occasionally has a 10x the Plum Points Event, in which you spend an amount of money to get 10x the points. To give you an estimate, if you were to spend 50$ during this event, you will receive 2500 points (which is equivalent to 5$).

The only time I ever buy A LOT of books at Indigo is during this event. That way, I’ve saved up enough money to buy in mass quantity and I get the most in points. Plus, I would buy the books online so that they would be discounted too!

If you decide to buy your books during these Plum Point Events only, you will reach your point goal faster. By using this strategy, I managed to collect over 100$ worth of points in 2-3 years. I know, it sounds like a long time and a lot of money spent, but the moment you redeem those points, it’s all worth it.

This might also sound like a lengthy process, but I sometimes take 5 minutes out of my day to collect 10 points by liking or disliking Indigo’s Recommendations on my Plum Points account. I believe that every point counts, so to me, it’s worth it. Plus, it’s free points!

Not all bookstore loyalty programs are the same so make sure you check out your bookstore’s program and subscribe to any newsletters that will keep you up-to-date on offers and promotions. The more offers you do, the faster you’ll get those rewards!

If you’re interested, I linked the online store websites here: Indigo/Chapters and Book Outlet.

I hope these tips help or work for you! Let me know in the comments if you’ve used any of these tips before. Did you learn something new? Maybe you can share your own tips so I can learn a thing or two from you guys!

Happy Book Shopping!!!

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