Ways to Save: Books
(the first in an occasional "Ways to Save" series)
Duh. The Library.
I'm at the point where I very rarely buy books at bookstores. It may seem like a no-brainer, but the library can be very convenient. Just remember to either renew or return the books when they're due.
Used Or As We Prefer, Recycled, Books
If you must add everything you read to your collection of "keeps," consider visiting sites/places which offer books at reduced rates. One such place is a library -- many libraries have designated rooms for library book discards or donations.
Library Discards or Donations to Buy
Our local library offers all mass market fiction sized books for .50 cents and all trade paper and hardbound for $1. There must be a lot of readers in our community because the turnaround is very good. Many libraries hold quarterly/bi-annual/annual book sales, too. Keep an eye out for them. Visit http://www.booksalefinder.com/ and get on their mailing list and they'll send you a weekly listing of all book sales in your area (based on zip codes).
The Thrift Store Alternative
Another option is time consuming, so set aside a nice block of time to peruse thrift store bookshelves. This is an unpredictable venture since some stores have large sections and others very little. The only way to tell is to visit thrift stores in your area (or, for that matter, anywhere you are) and head to the book section. This is not a quest for the impatient or intolerant.
If you cannot bear the thought of actually going out to look for whatever you might find, ie. out on the hopes you might get lucky and the book you're looking for is on a thirst store shelf for hardly anything.
Try Locally, Be Green Globally
We're in Southern California, on the Westside of Los Angeles and in the last couple of years we've lost two excellent thrift resources for books -- the now defunct Salvation Army on Washington Blvd. in Culver City and the Boys and Girls Club, also on Washington Blvd, but in Culver City west. Both shops had separate rooms dedicated to books and it could be a real joy scanning and finding something you've been wanting.
You can't rely on on one thrift store chain to concentrate more on books. This takes an actual visit. There are some Out of the Closets that don't carry a lot of books and some that do (the one on Pico Blvd. west of Overland Avenue in West Los Angeles and the one on Fairfax between Third and Melrose are excellent book hunt venues).
If you visit yelp.com and search for local thrift stores and a sub-search for books, or simply read through comments (contributors often mention if a locale is "good" or "bad" for books). In addition to the more commonly recognized names, be sure to consider independents or smaller charities.
Some Goodwills are donation centers that sell books-only, check their website for more details.
Online Book Sales
If you'd rather tinker/patrol/stalk/monitor the internet than actually getting in a car and driving to peruse bookshelves, you might want to consider buying online -- there's the Ebay-owned company, www.half.com or Ebay itself. Amazon offers used books, too.
Trades and Swaps
Another alternative to support your reading habit is to consider swaps -- www.swap.com. Establish contact and online associations with like-minded readers.