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Finding the Cheap Reads

Many options for reading the classics, an old favorite or the best sellers doesn’t have to be expensive.

Finding good books doesn’t have to hurt your wallet. The public library and loaners from friends are good options, but often our compulsive urge for a specific title is in sync with other town folk. 

The library’s waiting list can be as long as the church crowd for Sunday brunch. Everyone seems to have the same idea, especially during the summer reading season.

I’m not on board with e-books for the Kindle, Nook or iPad...at least for now. Maybe I’m old school, but I prefer holding a book with dog-eared pages or a compromised spine. I spend enough time in front of a screen with illuminated text teasing my eyeballs.  

For years, I’ve purchased books from Alibris.com. It specializes in used books, textbooks and rare and out-of-print publications. All are available in different categories, conditions and prices. You can steer your selections to hardbound or paperback, first edition or fifth, least (or most) expensive and conditions from poor to new. For the kids, I’ve found the Twilight, Warriors and Hunger Games series for a fraction of the cost, sometimes only $1.99 per book. Granted, they’re used and previously owned by teenagers with sticky fingers, but it’s more appealing than an $18.99 price tag.  

Before placing my order, I always search for online coupon codes for a few extra dollars of savings. Plug the term “alibris coupon codes” into your search engine of choice. Links for dollars off and free shipping codes are always available. Depending upon how big your order is, the savings can be substantial. I recommend filling your cart with your reading list. Shipping is usually more expensive than the actual book; so loading up is the most economical approach.  

Competitor sites such as Barnes & Noble and Amazon also offer the used book option. Yet, I’ve found the coupon codes and free shipping from Alibris a better value, not just with cost, but time. When the free shipping option is available, Alibris has been more punctual and realistic with delivery time than its competitors. The website isn’t littered with fluff. It caters more to the bargain-conscious consumer. It’s also a worthwhile option for college students searching for cheap textbooks.  

I’ve found hard-to-find cookbooks, a few classics, old favorites and even the occasional trashy novel. I’ve often used Alibris to replace the forgotten books left on airplanes or fulfilling special requests from classroom teachers. Alibris offers a sought after alternative for penny-pinching consumers. With a good selection and good prices, we’re more apt to pass along a good read and help others, without all the fluff.  

Christine March 05, 2012 at 12:06 PM
Alibris--I've never heard of that and am now excited to begin book shopping! Thanks for the great tip Cami :)
Ron Peterson March 05, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Some years ago I asked the kid next door, who was a new history graduate from an Ivy, what the best history book was that he had read. With no hesitation he responded with "Killer Angels" which I promptly bought and read and recorded it as one of my own best all time reads--and followed it with lots of similar books. My wife and I discussed the best books we had ever read and we were unanimous with James Clavall's "Shogun" and John Barth's "The Sotweed Factor." All of which, I'm sure, are available at your library or certainly from Alibris.
Cheryl Curtis March 05, 2012 at 03:46 PM
I would add the library used bookshelves/tables to the list. Though I try to not to purchase more books (where or where would I put them) my resolve crumbles in the face of 50¢ and $1 books that I find at the Windsor and Bloomfield libraries. I haven't made it there, yet, but I hear Grace Church is also a good source.
Scott Aiken March 05, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Savers (near Wal-Mart in Manchester) has used books as well.
Heather Burns at Alibris March 06, 2012 at 06:39 PM
Thank you for your super kind words, Cami! Please pardon me jumping in here--I just couldn't resist. I hope you have many, many more happy experiences shopping on Alibris. For you folks willing to give Alibris a try, please use coupon code "share" to take $1.00 off any order. Happy shopping! --Heather Burns, Client Services Director at Alibris

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