Now I know a lot of us are facing financial crunches for various reasons. I have four young children and a disabled husband. I know all about worrying whether or not there is enough to last til the end of the month, putting off purchases until next month (and next month usually turns into next year). I don't get to buy nearly as many books as I'd like. I've been stretching my book dollars for years and I will likely need to continue doing just that for a while yet.
My mother always asks me how I manage to get such great books without spending a lot of money. I'm going to share with you my top tips.
1) Buy used. That's the main thing for me. As a writer it pains me to deprive other writers of a share of the sale price for used books, but I try to make up for it by telling others about the books that I loved so that I am at least giving the authors free publicity. This isn't to say I don't buy new books as well, I just buy more used than new. If you don't have a bookstore in your town, try Goodwill. If you don't have a Goodwill either, see tip 2.
2) Check with your library. They often sell books that aren't being checked out anymore or are duplicate copies. The prices are generally low and the money goes right back into the library, so while you are increasing your private book stash you will also be helping the community.
3) Garage sales. I have yet to buy an actual garage at one of these, but I've gotten some great books.
4) Let it be known to all both far and near that you will take any books people don't want anymore. I've gotten books from friends, neighbors, the occasional relative, even the local Freecycle group (Freecycle is a nationwide movement to reduce waste by giving unwanted or no-longer-needed items to others in your area rather than just throwing them away. Go to Freecycle.org for more information.)
5) If you are so fortunate as to own a working eReader of any kind, pay attention to which books are coming out that you know you will want to read, those by favorite authors for example. Often there will be a special price for a limited period of time after the release. Follow your favorite authors online so that you can enter giveaways for their books.
6) Watch for sales. When I go to Goodwill they always have a reduced price for items with one sticker color or another. Since everything there is used anyway, I give preference to the books with the sale color stickers. EBooks sometimes go on sale as well.
7) Prioritize. Budget for your books. Give yourself a set amount each month that you can spend indulging your habit for the written word. If you know you've only got $10 left for books this month, you will weigh your choices more carefully and be far less likely to purchase something that will just be taking up space in your home or on your eReader. The best part about this is that if you don't spend the full amount of your "book budget" this month, you are allowed to carry the extra funds over and add them to next month's amount.
8) Treat yourself. By being carefully frugal with your usual book buying you can afford to indulge sometimes in a brand new, full-price book. Make sure it's by an author you love so that you won't regret spending the money now rather than continuing to save up for a first edition leather-bound copy of Moby Dick.
That's all for this week. I apologize for not posting yesterday. It was a busy day. I'll see you all on Sunday.