Cool Way to Get Some Cheap Books
I wanted to have a decent collection of books at the office without depleting the ones from my house. I hoped there would be a site where you could buy like a whole box of random titles but I couldn’t find one. I did, however, find a pretty cool way to buy a bunch of books very cheaply.
First: If you don’t have Amazon Prime, you should. It’s $70 for the year and you get two day shipping on everything Amazon sells. The average shipping cost on Amazon is between $3-4 so that evens out to less than 20 bucks a year without factoring in how much your time is worth. (Plus since you can link it to four different accounts, you can split it with people)
Anyway, try this:
Go to FillerItem.com -> Uncheck everything but Books -> Search for Items Starting at $.01. It brings up pages and pages of books for basically nothing. I bought all the classics last night and a couple books of quotations and speeches. Most of them are books you’ve probably already read but for whatever reason didn’t keep.
Then you can go through and see all the books that Amazon puts in its Bargin Section. They have Under $5, $10, $20. It’s not a bad place to get discount hardcovers that are going into paperback or stuff like that. (They should make an RSS feed for it) If you click on one you want and scroll down to the “People Also Bought” section it tends to recommend books all in the same price range that for some reason aren’t listed in the bargain section.
It’s very helpful to have books like this one hand. You never know when you might make use of them. Every so often, it happens. And when I don’t have one and need to go to Borders to get it, I use this through my phone.
Alibris.com is also a pretty good site. I just bought 12 books for ~60 dollars.
My best money-saving tip is to use online book- and movie-swapping sites. My favorite is http://www.bookins.com, but there are others, like bookmooch, paperbackswap, etc. For $4.49 I get a book or movie delivered to me and I can keep it or trade it back. There’s a points system (that’s why I like Bookins — theirs takes into account the value of the book or DVD), but I’ve found that the points are a “wash” because I trade the item back after reading or viewing. It’s saved me about $400 a year and I’ve read a lot more than I would have been able to.
Sweet post. I wish I lived in the US so I could take advantage of Amazon Prime. Shipping here to Asia kills me, but the bottom line is that Amazon is the only place that has what I want/need, and will send it to me.
One shop I found (through Amazon) is Better World Books (http://www.betterworld.com/index.aspx). I bought 24 pizza books from there one day. All used and they all cost less than $3 each. Heck of a deal.
There’s also swaptree.com which allows you to trade books (and dvds) for free. All you pay for is shipping, which you can print automatically from the site.
This is a great site for exchanging books you didn’t like / don’t anticipate looking at again for books you haven’t gotten to yet.
The site also creates for 3 way trades and allow eBay-esque ratings.
Are there any good used book stores? Up here we have a chain of them, and 90% of the time they have what I want. The prices are insane, I picked up a mint copy of the Meditations (Hays translation) for $3.99, its now my loaner copy.
While I certainly understand the desire to own books (I have ~four bookshelves full, often stacked two deep), I’m beginning to reevaluate my philosophy of ownership. Once I started asking myself the question “why do I need to own this?” I found I often didn’t have very good answers, even for books.
Subsequently I’ve been getting rid of books, especially the ones that have proved valueless to me, or the ones I bought but never read and know every time I look at them that I never will.
Such purging has felt really good, actually. Balancing my desire for reference material and a personal library with simplicity and a purpose of ownership.
Meanwhile, the public library continues to be a great boon.
Swapping books isn’t saving you guys money. You’re doing something completely different. A lot of people need to own books to reference or use or come back to. It’s sort of a long term, life long process.
Swapping is great if you want to read for fun but you also miss out on a lot in the process.
And Brandon is also right, there’s no reason to keep valueless books simply for the sake of having a lot of them.
Still, it’s difficult to say that – especially in my position – that you’ll never need to go back to them. The cost of having to do that when you’ve gotten rid of the book is high while the cost of storing it is very low.
How do I know I’m getting a decent edition when buying cheap books? I’d hate to read the Autobiography of Malcolm X or The Law by Bastiat only the discover later that my copy was so terrible it could not be used for academic purposes. Can I trust the ratings?
A lot of them are in English so it’s not really a problem.
@Graham Just look at the ISBN and compare it to the Amazon one. It is the easiest way I have found to make sure. The flip side is that you can do what a a poor marksman does, and buy all of the books on one subject they have, hoping to find the diamond in the rough.
I did that with those pizza books. Just searched pizza and bought everything that came up and was under $3. I would have been unhappy to spend $10 on most of those books, but the good ones were well worth it, and since most of them were out of print (or close to it) when Amazon got going, they have no reviews.
The same could easily be done with autobiographies, manuals, reference books…
I love http://www.FetchBook.info Its a great price comparison site for books. Search by author, title, keyword, then it brings back a list of the lowest prices and direct links to buy them.