Works For Me: Cheap Books

WfmwheaderHappiness is…a very big and very interesting pile of books on your bedside table

This lovely picture is my own to-be-read stack, and my heart beats a Books_3little faster just looking at it.  Yep, they’re all mine–not a library book in the lot of them.

I think everyone probably knows this already, but just in case–did you know that you can buy used books at unbelievable bargains at Amazon?   Just look up your book title, and underneath the details click "47 new and used" (the number is different for each title, of course).  Very often you can buy books for–yes, really–under a dollar.  Even with shipping (which, domestically, is around $3), that’s a bargain for a perfectly fine book.  And it’s cheaper than the $5 overdue fine I always rack up when I use the library.  Best of all, I’m building my own little library here at home.

I’ve probably ordered 30-40 books over the last couple of years this way, and I’ve not had a single bad experience.  The shipping is sometimes a little slow, but who really cares? 

(And an aside right here, because I’ve always wanted to ask someone this:  how are those used booksellers making any money selling some of their books FOR A PENNY?  Not that it really matters–as long as they keep doing it, I’m perfectly happy.  But I am curious, and once when I asked Hubs, for whom economic theory is–have mercy on me–a HOBBY, my eyes began to glaze over at his complicated answer.  Anyone know how to explain this to someone at a fifth-grade math level?)

Anyhoo, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it–cheap books from Amazon most definitely work for me!

Have a clever idea you’d like to share?  Blog about it at your place and leave a link below.  WFMW guidelines can be found here.

1. OW (weight loss aid)
2. The Preacher\’s Wife (saving money for Christmas)
3. Our Side (Multiplication Mastery)
4. A Juggling Mum (Changing Nappies)
5. The Lazy Organizer (Raisin Shaker)
6. Neighbor Jane (frosting tip)
7. An Ordinary Mom (keeping marriage alive)
8. Cherish The Home (Pulling Weeds)
9. KD (no cracked heels)
10. Owlhaven (kids and sports)
11. Jordan @ MamaBlogga (Fast cleaning tips)
12. noodle (recipes in a flash)
13. Michelle at Scribbit
14. Liza\’s Eyeview – helping kids struggling in school
15. Jessica (getting published)
16. Emily (awesome fundraiser)
17. Lori – Queen of Dirty Laundry (One Thing at a Time)
18. Joyful Days (Bridal Shower Gift)
19. The Pumkin Patch(A great smelling house)
20. Happy Tails (Elevated Dog Feeder)
21. Rebecca Mielke (cheap bathroom makeover)
22. My Twenty Cents Keeps Moving (Scripture memory)
23. Smockity Frocks (A Fun Joke)
24. chilihead (free audio books)
25. MyThreeDaughters (Storing Clothes)
26. Mommy Dearest (Girls\’ Hairbows)
27. Military Mommy (easy kids lunch)
28. Proverbs 31 (Prayer Journaling)
29. Jenny (paint roller tip)
30. PastorMac’s Ann (Plan a Pajama Run)
31. Karen L (cheap wasp/yellowjacket killer)
32. Joo (Nursing/Wedding decor)
33. Beth (Storing Vitamins/OTC meds)
34. Marcia (catching up on reading)
35. Scaling Back (The Traveling Fort)
36. Kel (Keeping my car clean)
37. Mama Says (Kids art stuff)
38. Elizabeth (Lazy Waffles)
39. Michelle (Freebies for Homeschoolers)
40. Beth?Mom2TwoVikings (hands free gadget)
41. Amblin (Hot Dog Un-slumber party)
42. Song of the Sagebrush (Snow Cone Queen!)
43. Elizabeth (market day)
44. WoodenPorch (take better pics II)
45. Girl Gone Wild (rewarding children)
46. Whymommy (scrub the ceiling)
47. Sincerely Anna (deleted digital pics recovered)
48. At Home with Kris (Book CloseOuts online store)
49. Barbara H. (Preparing for errands)
50. Jessica (Mini Blinds and kids)
51. Sarah (You Can Live Without It!)
52. jen (gardening)
53. sam (Senior pictures on a budget)
54. Jennifer (square foot gardening)
55. Just In Case… No Flea Dog treat
56. Aubrey (All about exercising)
57. Mrs. Happy Housewife ( Kitchen Shears)
58. Ellen B.(scroll down to Goodwill)
59. Alli (getting younger kids to clean up)
60. lifeasamama (lime chips)
61. Carrie (personalized photo greetings)
62. Coralie (Leftovers People actually want to eat)
63. R (laundry in little doses)
64. Carol (removing carpet dents)
65. Heather L. (easier floor cleaning)
66. Jeana (Trips and Outings)
67. Amber (saving $ on groceries)
68. Kara (kitchen tip)
69. The Cheerio Queen (music and behavior)
70. Miss Poppins (homemade bath salts)
71. dawnz:) (Cheap books)
72. dawnz:) (IGNORE MY OTHER POST)
73. Sue G. (Crud-Kutter)
74. SeaBird (Making Homemade Yogurt)
75. Elena (booksale finder)
76. Betsy (blender & protein shake)
77. Amy (Write It Down)
78. Trixie @ Farm Home Life (expenses)
79. Mummymac (storing root ginger
80. Karen (a new attitude)
81. Amy (frugal iced mochas)
82. MC Milker- Listen Before you Leap
83. GP in Montana
84. ribbonrockstar (Stop itching)
85. a wandering heart (veggie/herb pots)
86. Bethany (Once a Month Cooking with pictures!)
87. Kisses of Sunshine – Cookies for Party Favors
88. Doris (Priceline)
89. ABC (Baby Calendar)
90. Kahri (trading movies)
91. Life with Littles(Stretching Soap)
92. Life with Littles(Free Art Work)
93. Mrs Pear (Bread rising fast)
94. Jill (white pizza)
95. Shalee (Sending Love)
96. Kathleen Marie (plant /flower clips)
97. J. Fergie (Dining Out with Kiddies)
98. Melissa-Homemade Sugar Scrub
99. Eden (Packabe)
100. Alexandra(BKF Stain Buster Household Cleaner, free sample)
101. Vida (Christmas shopping early)
102. MommaBlogger (BBQ Meatballs)
103. Candace (getting a break)
104. Melissa (Bathroom Cleaning Tip)
105. MrsX
106. MrsX (Rx for scars)
107. MemeGRL (mystery rides)
108. Amy W (use for expired sunscreen)
109. Jen (white cloths)
110. Kathy (thankfulness
111. Elena (mess-free cake)
112. Jennifer (Never Give Up!)
113. a suburban housewife (color-coded family members)
114. Crystal @ Biblical Womanhood (saving money on gasoline)
115. Laura (getting housework done thoroughly)
116. madridmom (toy storage)
117. Mandy Houk (The Paper Clip Diet)
118. Katiebod (“The Stuff Bus”)
119. Kim – Packing Tips
120. Dawn (Color-Coded Calendar)
121. AbraThatFits&ACanopenerThatWorks
122. Frugal Homemaker Plus (Dog Food Storage)
123. Mandy (identity theft)
124. Totallyscrappy (Butter Spray)
125. ~heather.s (Stop Telemarketers)
126. Disney Loving Frugal Mom
127. Lisa@ Everyday Adventures(another use for vinegar!)
128. Suzy
129. Ann Kroeker (storage during long hospital stay)
130. Katherine@Raising Five (chore clips)
131. Just In Case… No Flea Dog treat (corrected link)
132. Juggling Frogs (Automatic Allowance System)
133. Juggling Frogs (Automatic Allowance System) (Sorry, sent wrong link!)
134. marchino
135. Betsy~free samples

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50 thoughts on “Works For Me: Cheap Books

  1. Overwhelmed! says:

    You know, I do order from Amazon from time to time but I’m always a bit nervous about buying used. I’m afraid they books won’t be in good shape when I get them. You’ve had good luck? Maybe I’ll try it soon.

  2. Desert Diva (Julie) says:

    You think amazon used books are great – you REALLY need to check out You get to get rid of books you’re done with plus get new books for the cost of media mail ($1.50-2.00). I am totally addicted! They don’t have everything but with the money you save there you could buy all the others on amazon πŸ™‚

  3. Jordan says:

    Like you, I’ve never had a bad experience, other than slow shipping (which is a killer when it’s a textbook that you have to take a test on three days after it finally arrived). (Loved that book; still have it.)
    My sister, on the other hand, had real trouble with one used book she ordered online. After 3 weeks, it hadn’t arrived. The seller insisted that she had to return the book for them to ship her a new one or refund her money. Finally, they figured out that they’d never sent it. (She did eventually get her book, but I think they still charged her full price, despite their screw up.)

  4. Liza says:

    I agree – I love Cheap Books, and I get a lot of them at Amazon πŸ™‚ and other 2nd hand sources too πŸ™‚

  5. Michelle says:

    I love and for used books. They’re both great resources, though Powells runs cheaper for shipping if you’re buying many books at a time. Alibris accesses more stores so it has a bigger selection but because your order ships from several places it’s more expensive to ship.
    Love those guys.
    I do like Amazon–I was visiting Seattle a few years back and my rental car broke down. I went into the nearest building to make a call and the security was amazing. Found out later it was the Amazon headquarters.

  6. Toblerone says:

    I’ve heard the way they make money is that Amazon allots more money than needed for shipping, so when it says “shipping, $2.49,” it will only cost the seller 1.59 or so. Doing hundreds of books this way, it could really add up.
    I’ve sold a number of books on Amazon, and I vouch it to be true. This wasn’t for business, so I really didn’t make a ton of money. But I think that’s at least one avenue where they profit.

  7. Jessica Snell says:

    I like buying used books off of Amazon too – but also in lots, off of Ebay. (Just have to make sure you want each book in the lot.)
    peace of Christ to you,

  8. Joyful Days says:

    Love used books. Haven’t found any for a penny, but my Half Priced Books does 50 cent books a lot and that has set us for homeschool needs.

  9. Trista says:

    I just finished reading the Same Sweet Girls 2 books ago. LOVED IT! And being an Alabama girl myself, I could relate and knew exactly every place they were referring to. Enjoy!!!

  10. Karen L says:

    I buy used books off of Ebay all the time, too. But…I am sneaky and snipe them at the last minute with a sniping service that is free. lol

  11. Joo says:

    Books grow in my house like weeds. No matter how many I give away, they’re everywhere! My husband and I each have a truckload of boxes full of them that we save in case someday we live in a mansion with a dedicated library that can accomodate wall – to wall books. It’s a nice dream…

  12. LadyBug Crossing says:

    Did you know that if you volunteer at your local library for an hour or so each week, they will waive your fines and you will have access to the newest releases??

  13. Laura says:

    I’m a seller over on Amazon UK. For the 1p books the profit is basically in the postage. I get Β£2.something for each book I sell and the postage cost is usually between Β£0.60 and Β£1.80 depending on the size of the book – the difference is the profit.
    Incidentally, if you like buying books on Amazon then you’ll love BookMooch. This is basically a free book exchange which works on a points system. I started using it a few weeks ago and love it to bits!

  14. Barbara H. says:

    I’ve gotten a few out of print books that way but just didn’t think about it for regular books (duh!!) I need to check there for a book on my spring reading list that is not in the library or in my local Barnes and Noble.
    I have wondered how they sell books for just a few cents, too! It almost seems like it would be too much trouble for no profit. Maybe they’re just book lovers who want to see books go to a good home? I don’t know; it’s crazy. But I’m more than happy to pay that price if they’re willing to sell!

  15. SaraG says:

    Yeah, they make the $ on the shipping…
    LOVED Traveling Mercies and Time Traveler’s Wife – I’m a little jealous that it is not me reading them brand new again. Enjoy!

  16. SaraG says:

    Yeah, they make the $ on the shipping…
    LOVED Traveling Mercies and Time Traveler’s Wife – I’m a little jealous that it is not me reading them brand new again. Enjoy!

  17. Dolly says:

    Hi- I just wanted to say that I LOVE your WFMW links! I have gotten so many Great ideas and found so many wonderful new blogs this way. I was so inspired that I had to start a blog just so I can share too!
    Thanks< Dolly

  18. Connie says:

    Just wanted to 2nd to there is also a thing called bookcrossing. Look at people leave books at different public locations, list it on the web site and you just go pick it up. A little fun and adventure mixed with your love for reading.

  19. Ellen B. says:

    I have a post of my ideal mall where I have a photo of some of the books I buy at Goodwill. I have found more than these pictured. MacDonald, Piper, C.S.Lewis, Sayers. I love books. I love bargains.

  20. Mommy Dearest says:

    The Odd Thomas books are good, although the first (the one on your nightstand) is best.
    I would love to hear that theory about the penny books. I’ve always wondered about that one myself…

  21. Marcy says:

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned–I always buy my books there. 75 cents is the cheapest + shipping. If you buy more than one item from the same seller shipping is reduced on the subsequent items.

  22. ABC says:

    I’ll have to look into this! The only English language library here charges high yearly fees and takes a long time to get newer stuff. I saw your copy of “The Time Traveler’s Wife” in the photo- you will love it!
    I’m new to WFMW, so I hope I did okay! πŸ™‚

  23. Shalee says:

    I’m sorry Shannon. I saw your stack of books and I drifted off into heaven as you have my favorite two books in the world sitting on the top of your stack.
    I heartily agree with buying books this way, although sometimes you need to inquire as to whether or not there is any sort of inscription or book plate in it. That’s the only flaw I’ve discovered so far.

  24. Kathleen Marie says:

    I love Amazon and sell books on there as well but I truly love plus Both are fabulous and you don’t pay a penny for a book…just postage if someone wants one of yours.

  25. Shauna says:

    Our library’s semi-annual used book sale is this weekend. You can get everything you can fit into a bag for $4 on the closing day.

  26. MrsX says:

    Great tip! I do this myself, eXcept I only buy from sellers with 99% or better ratings. Like you, I don’t mind waiting for slower media mail to save a few pennies. Enjoy your great stack of books! ThanX for another great WFMW.

  27. Debs says:

    Ok, I sell books on amazon, and can tell you figures.I’m in the UK so it won’t really help, but I’m gonna do it anyway – it’s probably similar.
    If I sell a book for 1 pence, the customer pays that 1p plus Β£2.75 postage etc costs. From that I get Β£1.41 to post the book and then keep the rest as profit (the other Β£1.34 goes to amazon as fees).
    Typically I pay around 60p to post a book, and I recycle padded envelopes (My Mum saved them for years!) or use bubble wrap and old envelopes. That way I get around 81p profit.
    Obviously, it depends on the weight of the book, and I prefer if I can sell it for more, but I try to look at what other people are selling books for and price mine accordinly.
    Hope I haven’t bored anyone with all that, but also just want to say I’ve found selling on amazon really straightforward, and would recommend it to anyone who has a few books they no longer need to give it a try πŸ™‚

  28. Mandy says:

    Yes, I love Amazon’s used books deal! It’s saved us tons of money on home schooling books. I’ve even sold some books through Amazon, but it’s a bit tricky when you’ve got the penny people as competition. I’ve wondered about that myself, but not long enough to stop me from placing my order!

  29. Liz says:

    yes! buy used from amazon! often they are poor little ladies like me who sell used books online for a little pocket change πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  30. Annie says:

    Hi Shannon,
    I am a fairly recent reader of your blog. I have been lurking for a while, but I HAD to delurk after the first line of your post today. I LOVE LOVE LOVE reading too and have been an avid reader ever since I could read. I get the same deep down feeling of happiness and contentment when I know I have a pile of books waiting for me at my bedside book basket.
    Love your writing. Wish I had more time to read and write! There are only 24 hours a day, more is the pity.
    Wishing you God’ s best.

  31. Gina says:

    I love that on Amazon! I use it all the time! is so great too! I just got my next book club book for a whole dollar!

  32. katherine@raisingfive says:

    Amazon is the best. All the used books I’ve bought from them look better than just about any new one after one day at our house! And for cheap.
    Haven’t participated in WFMW in a while, but I thought I’d join in again. Wow, you’ve been at this at LEAST a year now, huh? You’re amazing.

  33. Amanda says:

    I love Amazon for cheap books. And charity shops/jumble sales/car boot sales/occasionally ebay…
    The trouble is that I have too many of them! I hate to part with books, and so they suffer, packed away in boxes beneath the bed (because every available shelf space is already full!).
    Cheap books? For me they’re a blessing AND a curse!

  34. Carrie says:

    Amazon still can’t beat the local thrift store – 75 cents for a mint condition hardcover book, no shipping cost, and no waiting for it! You can start reading it in the car on the way home. =)
    Being such a tightwad, it absolutely KILLS me to pay more for something in shipping than the price I’m paying for the item.

  35. clkl says:

    We use the library a lot, but for books unavailable at our library, or needed for longer term, I’ve had great luck both buying and selling used books on Amazon.
    I love being able to buy something for one child, quietly together at my computer, after dinner and homework time, rather than taking five kids to an overpriced bookstore during rush hour.
    Not only is it more focused and easier, but much cheaper as there are no compromise books (because we couldn’t find what we needed) or compensation books (for the other kids who suddenly must have something as well).
    The book usually arrives before we could have scheduled an afterschool field trip to the bookstore.

  36. Amber says:

    wow honestly I never really even thought to use Amazon….lol…silly me… here I go….off to spend a ton on more craft books…lol….great…thanks so much πŸ˜‰

  37. :: Suzanne :: says:

    They make money on the shipping. Amazon collects about 3.50 from you and gives about 2.50 to the seller who ships it for about 1.50.
    I’ve sold about 1000 copies of Screwtape Letters on Amazon and have another 4000 to go.

  38. maudie-mae says:

    I work in a used book store and I sell used books at Amazon,, and Sometimes on Amazon you will find books for a penny. If you know what you are looking for, you can do a search on which searches many used book clearing-houses. I have a library so large myself, I don’t think I will live long enough to read everything I have. Used books are among the best bargains around. Check with your library to see when they have a used book sale. That’s another good source for cheap books and then there’s always your local thrift store.

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