Last week we talked about why we buy used books. This week, I want to talk about where we buy them. Here are some of my favorites. I live in the US, but keep in mind that shipping prices and availability vary depending where you live.
Thriftbooks is where I buy the majority of my used books online. They offer free shipping on orders over $10, and often I can find books for around $3-5 each.
The Amazon Marketplace can be hit or miss. I’ve found that shipping usually takes FOREVER from used sellers, and I’m very impatient. Sometimes I can order something from The Book Depository and receive it faster than an Amazon seller that’s shipping from one state over from me. I do think that the $3.99 shipping cost is expensive so I usually only buy books that are $1 or less. Love those $0.01 priced books!
eBay can also be a gamble. I avoid buying used books from eBay unless the seller lists the condition of the book or posts multiple photos. Sometimes you can get lucky and find a set of books from one author or genre for a great price.
Brick and Mortar:
Half Price Books:
I love Half Price Books, but there isn’t one close to me. There are a couple that I hit up every time I go to Chicago, and there is one on my route to visit my parents that I stop at a couple times a year. The prices aren’t that cheap for used books (half off sticker price, hence the name), but if you go on a sale day, sometimes you can find books for up to 50% off the used price. Be sure to check the clearance racks too!
Goodwill has the cheapest used book prices of anywhere I’ve found. Their prices vary depending where you live, but in my town, paperbacks are all 50¢ and hardcovers are $1. You can’t get any cheaper than that!
Independent Thrift Stores
These stores are comparable to Goodwill, but aren’t national chains. My favorite local thrift store has at least 3x as many used books as my local Goodwill, and they’re somewhat organized, so I tend to go there more often than Goodwill even though the prices are higher. At the store I frequent, I can find books for around $3 or less. I also have much better luck finding newer titles than when I go to Goodwill because the books are circulated in and out more quickly.
Library Book Sales
My local library has a tiny used bookstore inside, and all the proceeds go to the library. Ex-library books are sold here, as well as used books donated by the public. I’ve been lucky a few times to find almost brand new hardcover books (Landline!) that were taken out of circulation only because the library had purchased so many copies. Books at my library are sold for between $3-5. Many libraries also have book sales a few times a year where you can buy an entire bag of books for around $5. Almost all libraries sell used books. If you don’t see them, you might just need to ask!
Where do you buy used books? What makes you choose one seller/store over another?