Buying Books As Cheap As Possible

2015-Discussion-ChallengeThis post is a response to Amanda @ Book Badger’s discussion called “Buying Books, Free Marketing and Being a British “Tight Wod“. I wrote two HUGE comments on the post, and thought I’d turn them into a proper response.

Amanda starts her post by declaring that she’ll do whatever it takes to get the best deal possible when buying books, from searching out deals on-line, to buying from other countries, to buying second-hand, but it got her wondering if this somehow makes her a bad blogger

Searching For A Great Deal…

I love a good great deal. I’ve even got a section dedicated to it on my blog (Bookish Deals and Discounts), and I spend quite a while searching out books I want to buy and adding them to wishlists so I can monitor the prices and pounce when they drop. Most of the time, I’ll search on-line for a discount code, and where possible, I’ll also make the purchase through Quidco so I can get a little cash-back too. A “good” shop for me? I’ll pick up 10 new books for £20, with free delivery, which sometimes includes the odd hardback. It’s thrilling. But more than that, this enables me to buy more books without feeling guilty and putting myself on a book-buying ban, because I’m not spending a small fortune. Win-win.

Here’s how I look at it – I work hard for my money, and I don’t have a bottomless pit of disposable income, so I want to make sure I’m getting the most bang book for my buck. I’m not downloading illegal pirated versions of books, I’m just making sure that I’m getting the best deal possible, and I’m a deal-hunter in every aspect of my life (phone and Internet deals, beauty and skincare, I’m on those bargains!).

However, because of my deal-finding fetish, I have to admit that physical stores do lose out. I shop far more frequently at Amazon, The Book People and The Works, than I do at Waterstones (the only physical book-seller near me). I’m not happy about this. I would rather support a physical store, but sometimes I’m not in the position to. To make up for this, when I’m price-checking a book and there’s minimal difference between on-line stores and Waterstones – I’ll buy from Waterstones.

Impact on Authors and Publishers

But Amanda’s conscience won’t let her be, she’s also concerned about the impact of her deal-finding on the author’s revenue and overall book sales. I’m not sure how this works, but I’m pretty sure an author doesn’t get paid per book sold, or a cut of each book sold based on sale value, they get a sum for a book-deal, and can re-negotiate if more print runs are done, no? This is very much a novice’s attempt at explaining it, but I think it’s close? (It would be great for an author or bookseller to weigh in on this!).

Yes, these on-line bookstores are selling below RRP, and then I’m adding my discounts on top – but surely there’s a reason for that? I’m assuming these bookstores either get a deal from the publisher, are selling off old editions they are trying to get rid of, or are using a clever marketing ploy to generate more sales (get you in the door for the cheap ones, and sell you some dearer ones while you’re there, in the biz these are called “loss-leaders”). Because of this, I don’t feel I’m doing anyone out of money, as I’m paying the price they are asking for.

Second-Hand Buying and Selling

Personally, I don’t often use market-places. I’ve found I can usually get my hands on the book cheaper new than what many re-sellers are asking for it. I’ll use charity shops from time-to-time, because honestly I spend enough on my hobby, and the thrill of a great find is fabulous! We could over-analyse this one to death, but when someone sells a second-hand car, do we feel sorry for Ford because they aren’t getting another sale? This is just how the world works, so I can’t justify feeling bad for it (and in some cases my money is going to charity…). Re-sales of books undoubtedly don’t contribute to an author’s total number of books sold, and I wonder how they, and publishers, feel about that? Are they content that the author is still getting increased exposure through re-sales? Do any of you sell your books on when you’re done with them??

Shopping Internationally

I don’t buy books INT. I thought about it for the first time with Book Outlet’s Black Friday Sale; I put all the books I wanted into the cart, worked out the discount and added on the crazy shipping costs. The books worked out at £3 each – books like Cinder, Colleen Hoover etc., which are never less than £3 each in the UK that I’ve seen, and I debated placing my first INT order. I don’t think shopping INT makes you a bad person – we’re in a Global economy these days, your bananas from Tesco were not produced in London. Yes, we probably can and should support local where it is financially viable to do so – but for many of us we really need to think about it first. Yes, the economy is going through recession, but as individuals, so are we.

So. What great conclusion have I come to?

I don’t think any of these things make you a bad person, or a bad blogger. There’s a difference between hunting down a deal and reading illegal downloads. If I was in a position financially to not source the best deals, or if I simply didn’t want to put the effort in, then fine – but I search for deals in EVERYTHING. I think today, a smart shopper holds the power, and I can’t see my bargain-hunting ways changing any time soon…

What do you guys think about deal-finding? Do you have any opinions on any of the points in this discussion? Do you agree or completely disagree with me? Let me know in the comments!

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About Rachel

Avid reader & book blogger. Lover of Business. A fan of drinks & dancing. Ever optimistic. Feminist.

38 Responses

  1. I agree- we’re just trying to get the best deal! And the way I see it, if I can buy a book for a cheaper price than I can buy more books in the long run, which supports even more authors. Great post! 🙂

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  2. thebookheap

    I buy most of my physical books new and used on amazon marketplce, I see it as recycling unwanted books and giving them a home, while making the most of my hard earned money which I’m meant to be saving up anyway towards moving out 🙂 no guilt there from me.

    I couldn’t believe the shipping costs from Book Outlet, I was horrified. I thought I was gonna get a good deal and then I clicked on the basket and my eyes nearly popped out!

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      1. thebookheap

        I went to order like 3 books for $10, got to shipping and it was like £15 extra! LOLOLno.

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  3. I agree with you completely. I’m a starving uni student, I simply can’t afford to be buying all my books full price and want to get the most I can for my money!
    In Australia, books are stupidly expensive… it’s getting slightly better now the publishers are attempting to compete with the overseas sellers, but The Book Depository is always my first port of call if I decide I’m not happy with the in-store price. Then Amazon. If those options are both pretty comparable to the instore price, I’ll buy it in the shop.
    I just really don’t want to pay $35 for a book I could get for $3 online! I do make concessions for the few indie book stores still surviving, but only if I have the money to spare… especially since I remember being a bookseller and dealing with people only coming into the store to do price checks, then buy online right then and there!
    Also, I think as book bloggers, we kind of make up for our buying habits- if 10 people read our review of a book and decide to buy it, we’ve generated sales for that author!

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      1. I get that way sometimes too, especially when I’m doing really heavy reading subjects- it makes me binge watch tv shows!

        Everything is expensive here… little competition and geoblocking means companies can charge whatever they like. Everything from clothes to makeup to books and movies get a jacked up price. We’re not even supposed to use Netflix, those of us who do use programs to bypass the geoblocks, but apparently they’re cracking down on it… drives us all insane, especially when we know how much something costs overseas.

        I know you have, coz I bought Heir of Fire because you liked it so much 😉 so you have at least one success! Do you find too that it’s really random books that get the most hits? I get a hit a day most of the time for “The Ghost and Mrs Muir”, I’m guessing perhaps not many others have reviewed it!

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      2. I know right?! Except I always tend to do it when I have to be doing something else 😛

        Yeah our wages are high but if they weren’t, no one could afford to eat. Even then, companies make a killing by forcing a geo boundary on us, so products (like a DVD or computer program) won’t work if we get it sent from overseas, or they don’t allow shipping from their American stores to here, or change their websites so if you look at it from an overseas ISP the price is say $65 but from Australia it jumps to $250. So, so common.
        Or, in the case of Netflix, they geoblock and block some Australian credit cards… then they wonder why Australians are one of the biggest torrenters in the world! We’re getting sick of paying 3 times more for everything!
        A paperback can range from $20 to $35 (£11-£19) 😦

        I haven’t read it yet! I’m saving it up for an 11 hour train trip next month! Super excited about it, the premise sounds great 🙂 I ended up buying all of the books, so I can marathon them!

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  4. karen

    I am not a blogger. I am just a book reader. There is no way I accumulate as many books as a book blogger but as a mom and grandmother, most of my money goes for essentials like food and heat. Every deal I can get a deal on a book I grab it. Honestly, I read many books because I got it for a fabulous price. I have noticed that I do not buy as many actual books anymore–mainly ebooks. Cheaper that way and much more storage. I do get my favorite books in physical form and sometimes even audiobook. As a blogger, yu should get as many deals as you can. I read your blog because I like what you have to say and I trust your reviews. I need a deal to read as many books as I do and I think bloggers need them to be able to keep giving their opinions about the books you read. If you are offered a free book for a review, I think you should be honest but not nasty and get as many deals as you can. I love to read blogs that pertain to books and I want my favorite bloggers to keep doing what they do. Keeep up the great work and get all the deals you can.

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  5. Brandie

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I couldn’t afford books if I didn’t look for deals. I’m thankful a lot of books from my favorite authors are reasonable for Kindle. And I almost always buy used books from Amazon or Abebooks (with free shipping) when I want hard copies. Why? Because I have a family I’m supporting and I can’t also support an expensive hobby. I’m also fortunate that as a book blogger I can receive a lot of books from Netgalley and Edelweiss. I generally buy the ones that end up being my favorites for my bookshelves, but again – I guy them used or on a really good sale! It’s how the world is today and unless your making bazillions of dollars, which I am not, nor will I ever, you do what you can to feed your hobby. 🙂

    I don’t believe authors are getting ripped off one bit. They get a lump sum from the publisher and are doing juuuuust fine. 😉

    Great post!!! xo

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  6. I’m fortunate enough to be able to afford things. And I have to be honest and say, I don’t religiously seek out the lowest price when I’m on a hunt. What I do like is finding used books at charity shops, which, makes up for my being the poster girl for consumerism.

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  7. I love that I’m not the only person who has a whole complicated process for this! I scour second hand stores and marketplaces, but often buy new online because YA book usually are ALMOST as cheap this way. I have a long mental list of my TBR list and look for these title regularly in like six different places. That’s a lot of work just for a deal, but I kind of enjoy it 🙂

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  8. This is something I totally hadn’t thought about before. I often by used books from charity shops and such and I’d never even thought to consider if it would affect the author. I honestly don’t think it does. Now does looking for the best deal for a book, I don’t think an author would get paid per book, I just can’t see that being the way they would get paid.

    I am quite lazy about buying books, I will try and find the best deal, but I often can’t be bothered, once I start doing that there is every chance I might end up not buying because if I wait too long to buy something I can often talk myself out of it. I admire the process you go through to buy a book though, it’s true dedication.

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  9. Great post, I love discussions! I’m a bargain hunter and proud of it. I want to stretch my money as far as I can and books are a luxury. Sure they are one I indulge in a lot but I want to get the best bargains I can. I check Amazon daily deals every single morning and will often buy a book for $1.99 which I might not have thought about buying if it was $11.99.
    I don’t feel bad though. I think by reviewing books I give back to authors and I do buy a lot of books so I’m helping them in some small way. In the best way I can.

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  10. I am really picky with what I buy and where from. If I can get an eBook from Amazon for 99p then I’m not going to buy the hardback for £10.99. I do feel guilty for it but I can’t afford to read any other way. I feel that by being a blogger who posts reviews on Amazon and Goodreads as well I am helping out in the best way that I can, even if I got the book second hand. I think I read something once that said authors still get a cut when you borrow from the library so I try to do that as much as I can too. At the end of the day I want to read and if I am acquiring books cheaply then it allows me to read more. I can’t apologise for that because I wouldn’t mean it.

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  11. Love this post!!! 🙂 I think it’s a great response to Amanda’s and you also perfectly sum up how I feel about it. I regularly shop online because it’s so much cheaper and I buy so many books that I can’t afford to be paying full price at my local Waterstones.

    I work in a library and definitely approve of you trying to use them more. If you don’t use them then you lose them 😉 As they say, and as is proving true with many of ours. And authors do still make money when you borrow a book. I think it’s about 6p per loan or something, but it’s capped.

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  12. I think that any way you buy books is a great way. Our “job” (used loosely) as book bloggers is not to single-handedly support the book industry. We promote books because we love them. We talk books because we love them. And while I’m sure that authors definitely appreciate us when we buy their books, they know that we don’t have unlimited funds for books. So, I say, buy them however you can!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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  13. I love our local used bookstore. I’ll sell back my unwanted books and buy more books. 🙂 I’ve looked at our local thrift shops and our libraries have their own little book shops as well. I’m always on the hunt for a good deal (when I’m not on a buy ban)!

    Terri M., the Director
    Second Run Reviews

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  14. I try not to buy books at all and sometimes I feel guilty about that. I’m a library person and only buy books if my library can’t get them. I’m cheap. I read a lot so I couldn’t afford to buy all the books I read. I don’t like the clutter of a lot of books at home.

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