Bargain books for bibliophiles

My wife is a voracious reader. She always has been. She always will be. She loves books on just about anything, but especially Tom Clancy, historical fiction, and fantasy/science fiction. She has a special place in her heart for Trixie Belden books and books by Patricia Veryan. She’s probably also the fastest reader in the universe.

I have a bit different taste in reading material. I enjoy more practical books than historical books — especially personal finance, business, computer/techy books, and other productivity stuff. And, by the way, I’m a dirt-slow reader. Not a spineless coward, though. (Get it? Spineless? I’ll be here all week.)

And, like everything else, I want access to the books on the cheap. The cheaper, the better.

And, like with everything else, there’s no one best place to buy bargain books. Sometimes a retail book store is the best place!

Your best bets will depend on the book’s content, its age, its condition, and also whether you actually need to own the book or not.  If you don’t have to own it, borrow it from the library or read it at the bookstore.

Here are some tips for bagging bargain books:

  • For brand-new books hot off the press, ask yourself: Do you need to own it? Since the book is probably too new to be in the public library, you can go to the retail libraries (a.k.a. bookstores) and read it there.  If you absolutely must own it, grab it on sale or head over to
  • For time-sensitive, last-version books, check the bargain bins in stores if they have them. I used to check a Books-A-Million for slightly-older computer books.  Typically the bookstores have to get rid of these fairly quickly, so the prices are quite good.  (Our local Books-A-Million doesn’t have jack for computer books now, which is a bummer.)
  • For books a little older: Say you’ve recently grown to love Tom Clancy and want all of his books, and used will do. You can check on EBay for someone unloading a bunch of Tom Clancys. You can check out a used book store, rummage sale, thrift store, or library book sale to get 90% off list or more. By the way, a paperback is a good “throw-in” negotiating item at rummage sales. My wife makes her trip to the library book sale even nicer by volunteering to organize the books for the sale, because this gives her first crack at a few of her favorites. At used book stores, you can often trade in your books for store credit, which makes your purchases cheaper.
  • For really old/rare/out of print books, you can try to run across them at rummage sales. “Antique” shops, EBay, or used book stores usually will have a realistic price on them (i.e., expensive if they’re hard to find) but if they don’t know what a particular book is worth, you may get it for a song. If you’re able to be patient, you’ll be able to catch a better price.

(Note: This was another really old, pre-WordPress, rebooted article.  Hope you enjoyed it!)

John Wedding

Husband. Father. Web publisher. Musician. John has blogged at Mighty Bargain Hunter since 2005, helping people to recognize life's good deals.

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  1. nessili says

    Just make sure you do buy something from your secondary library (aka, bookstore), or they’ll all go the way of Borders :(

  2. says

    I am a big fan of the library. I use it for prited books and ebooks too. I check online when my authors are coming out withe new releases and reserve the book as early I can. I usually do not have to wait too long and I get a new book to read. Best of all, it is free!

  3. says

    Like your wife, I love historical fiction! I got myself an Amazon Prime membership which, among other things, gives me access to the Lender’s Library, which means I can read one book – no matter how old or new – for free each month. I’ve also found the “free eBooks” on Amazon (those whose copyrights have expired) are a great resource as well!

  4. says

    I like to use a site called Paperbackswap to trade my older books. I find that I usually only read something once anyways, so I’m then able to trade the books I’ve read to other users for credits, then use my credits to get books that I’d like to read. It works really well for older books that have been out a while, but they have a wishlist/waitlist function so you can get in queue for newer books.

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