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The Best Ways to Find Discount Books In Person and Online

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Jeffrey Davies


Jeffrey Davies is a professional introvert and writer with imposter syndrome whose work spans the worlds of pop culture, books, music, feminism, and mental health. In addition to Book Riot, his writing has appeared on HuffPost, Collider, PopMatters, Spectrum Culture, and other places. Find him on his website and follow him on Twitter @teeveejeff and Instagram @jeffreyreads. He is also the co-host of a Gilmore Girls podcast, Coffee With a Shot of Cynicism.

Every bookworm has been there, especially in an age of inflation: why are books so flipping expensive? I’m just trying to be literate, well-read, and ignore the vast uncertainty of life that stresses me the hell out every day that I’m alive! Is it too much to ask that I be able to find some affordable discount books to buy because sometimes those library due dates cause even more stress?

Never fear, dear reader! Book Riot is always here to help you with the best ways to find affordable discount books on a budget. It might require you to think outside the box and open your mind to buying used books, as well, since they always tend to be sold for less than brand new books. But used books have a pre-owned charm that brand new $38 hardcovers lack: they usually have a comfortingly musty book smell, and you’re more likely to find rare gems at used bookstores both in person and online than you are at your local Barnes & Noble or Indigo.

It’s also possible to find new discount books at affordable prices, as well. There are plenty of online bookstores that cater to backlogs of books from publishers that might not be in pristine condition but can pass for new, and thus you won’t be breaking the bank when you hit add to cart. The same can be said for your local indie bookstores, too. I know that mine almost always has a sales table with books that either haven’t been moving or they received way too much stock for their inventory, so they want to get rid of them at a reduced price. You just have to keep your eyes and ears open!

So fasten your seatbelts as we unleash this list of the best ways to find cheap discount books, both in person and online, to give your bank balance a bit of time to catch up. For online discount books, I’ve done my best to locate resources that ship internationally.

Best Ways to Find Discount Books Online

1. Find Discount Books with Book Riot Deals!

For the best e-book deals on the market today, you need not look any further than Book Riot’s daily book deals page. You can also sign up for our Book Deals newsletter; both of these links will help you find the most affordable discounted Kindle prices in just a few short clicks. What’s more convenient than that?

Well, even if you aren’t a Kindle or e-book person and prefer physical books, Book Riot has got you covered there, too. Our book deals pages will also often highlight the best ways to find sales on books with specific apps or other subscription services that will help get you the best deal on that ridiculously beautiful but ridiculously expensive new hardcover that you must have.

2. Better World Books

Better World Books is an affordable online book retailer that aims to give back to its community. Encouraged by the success of a local book drive at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, two college students decided to launch a lucrative online business in which books were both cheap and affordable, as well as giving something back to those in need. For every book purchased on Better World Books, they donate a book to a child in need. They also regularly donate proceeds from their business to literacy funds and charities. Everyone’s on a budget in some way or another, and this online store reminds us that we don’t have to spend a lot to make a difference.

3. ThriftBooks

Have all the best used bookstores in your area disappeared thanks to Amazon? While nothing can ever fully replace the joys of walking through a bookstore unencumbered, ThriftBooks is the next best thing when you need that used book fix. It’s also incredibly affordable for anyone looking for a great deal. Like any good physical used bookstore, ThriftBooks also carries used CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes, video games, audio cassettes, and vinyl records.

4. Book of the Month Club

If you’re someone who plows through those aforementioned $38 hardcovers but still must own them regardless, ask your doctor if Book of the Month Club might be right for you. (Just kidding, don’t ask your doctor; they probably don’t care.) This subscription service offers, for a monthly fee, new hardcover fiction titles at a reduced price. The service offers you five options each month, and it’s easy to both skip a month if nothing interests you, or add more than one per month for an additional fee. Either way, it ends up being cheaper than making your bank account cry because you just had to have that new shiny hardcover that wasn’t on sale in the least. It’s $9.99 for the first month and $14.99 thereafter; you can also gift the service to someone else.

5. Powell’s Books

Powell’s Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon that also has a vast online store that ships internationally. They sell books both new and used, as well as college textbooks with a nice discount. You can also sell your textbooks back to them once you’ve finished with them. They also buy your books, which is a great way to support any used bookstore. Word on the street is Powell’s can be a bit more selective than most when it comes to buying your books, but that’s only because they prioritize like-new quality. Which can only be a good thing for online shoppers.

6. Bookroo

Looking for an affordable and dependable selection of children’s books for the younger ones in your life? Look no further than Bookroo, a subscription box that caters exclusively to kids’ books aged 0 to 12. There are four different subscription tiers to choose from: the first is for kids aged 0 to 3, sending three board books per month. The second is for kids aged 3 to 6, sending two hardcover picture books per month. The third sends two hardcover chapter books per month for kids aged 7 to 10, and the final tier is for those aged 9 to 12, sending two chapter books per month from the middle grade genre. The books are 50% off the retail price, and you can easily skip a month should you need. Sounds like the best way to get your child into a pattern of regular reading!

7. Amazon Marketplace

I personally stopped buying books from Amazon themselves several years ago after the books would always arrived damaged in some way. Plus, I’d now much rather support my local indie bookstores or even Indigo, the Canadian equivalent of Barnes & Noble, before purchasing a book from Amazon. But sometimes you’re looking for that really obscure title that might even be out of print, and there’s an affordable copy sold by a third party through Amazon. Sometimes even recent bestsellers are sold for less on Amazon by third party sellers; that’s how I used to buy most books in high school with my mom’s credit card (until she started saying no). Buying from third-party sellers on Amazon can be a good way to support small businesses that need it, as long as you’re choosy about who you buy from. Trust those seller ratings!

8. PangoBooks

Looking to sell some books to make room on your shelves and to fund your next book buying splurge? Looking to find books in good condition at good prices? Consider joining PangoBooks, a reader-to-reader platform that allows readers to sell their books directly to other readers. Unlike selling your books to a used bookstore or retailer, or donating them to your local library’s book sale, selling your books on PangoBooks ensures that the person buying them is genuinely interested in them. They have an app that’s easy to use to get your books for sale even faster. Per their website, “It’s like opening your own little bookshop.”

9. AbeBooks

Pretty much every rare, out-of-print gem I’ve ever tried to track down, I’ve found it on AbeBooks. Launched in 1996, they don’t only sell books: they also sell art and collectibles, as well as rare first editions and more. AbeBooks is more of a conduit rather than a supplier, as everything sold through the site is from a third-party seller in more than 50 countries worldwide. So if you’re willing to wait for a copy of a paperback fiction title that’s much cheaper from someone in Ireland, this may be the place for you. Besides, how many people do you know who are able to say, “Oh, my copy of Where the Crawdads Sing? I had it imported from Ireland.” Suddenly you are elusive and mysterious and not a poor bookworm on a budget.

Best Ways to Find Discount Books In Person

10. Visit Your Local Used Bookstores

If you are lucky enough to live somewhere with more than one local used bookstore, do yourself a favor and become one of their best customers. Used bookstores have shrunk so much since the start of the 21st century thanks to the advent of online shopping, and while some of the aforementioned online retailers above have tapped into online used bookstores, nothing — I repeat, NOTHING — will ever replace the physical ones. Even if you don’t find what you were looking for, you’re still likely to find something rare or special that you would only have found in this one place. That’s what I find so magical about used bookstores. Something about me having come here on this day to find this book that I only could have found here feels like destiny. So make your bookworm destiny come true and become a used bookstore girlie! (Bonus: no shipping fees!)

a photo of someone browsing at a bookstore with books lined up on the floor
Photo by John Michael Thomson on Unsplash

11. Browse Deals at Your Local Indie Bookstores

I’d much rather you support your local indies before big chain book retailers, but both of them are likely to have a discount section. For your indie, it’s most likely overstock or slightly damaged items that they need to get rid of, and the reduced price will most likely be very much in your price range.

12. Browse Deals at Your Local Chain Book Retailer

The same can be said for your chain retailer; they are even more prone to having so much overstock and not enough space for it — which is why you might find paperback copies of a massive bestseller from a few years ago going for under $10. Big chain retailers are also likely to have “new and hot” fiction titles on sale to entice people to buy from them, so one way or another, there are discounts to be found when you enter a bookstore.

13. Attend Library Book Sales

Listen, you might not find a really specific title you’ve been looking for at a library book sale. Most libraries hold book sales as fundraisers for their establishments, so it’s a great way to give back to them. They’re often full of really random books, but that can add to the thrill of the hunt! Maybe you’ll find some old, discarded library books that you can’t believe your library is getting rid of; I’ve found many a childhood book in discarded piles as well as interesting, out-of-print books on pop culture. You just have to be willing to look and to dig.

14. Don’t Be Afraid To Travel for Books

Maybe you don’t live in a place with an abundance of bookstores, except for maybe one chain retailer and your local library. Not to worry! If you ever find yourself on a road trip or vacation, take the time to seek out local bookstores. I live in the French Canadian province of Quebec, where it’s hard enough to be an anglophone. While I do live in a large metropolitan city, after a while, there’s only so many English-language bookstores you can frequent. That’s why whenever I’m in another city for whatever reason, I make sure to go book shopping if the schedule allows for it. Hell, since the pandemic, every trip I’ve taken has been centered around visiting bookstores, so build your entire trip’s schedule around visiting bookstores! You’ll be surprised at what you can find in new places when you’re not looking for anything in particular. I found a brand new copy of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Carrie Soto is Back at half-price in a record store during my last trip. Anything is possible!

15. Join Bookish Communities On Social Media

Social media can be royally awful for many reasons, but finding common interests with friendly strangers is not one of them. Long before BookTok, there was Bookstagram, and now BookTwt (Book Twitter) is starting to take off. There’s never been a shortage of bookworms on social media filling their feeds with like-minded people who will understand the struggles of having all your library holds come in at once or buying books you can’t afford just to feel something. So if you follow enough bookish accounts, especially from people based in and around your area, you’re likely to find out about the best new places to get your literary fix. Because if there’s one thing I know about book bloggers, we will drop everything the minute we hear something bookish and accessible is going on in town. Even if you never meet your bookish online friends in real life, joining a virtual community of readers is a great way to share tips and hacks on how to get the best books into your life without spending too much. Because that’s all we want, right? All the books, even if we don’t have all the money.

If you have any tips and hacks for getting your hands on books at discounted prices, share them with us!