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 Β£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 Β£3 each – books like Cinder, Colleen Hoover etc., which are never less than Β£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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38 comments

  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! πŸ™‚

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  2. 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 πŸ™‚ 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. Exactly, we can’t leave those poor unloved books homeless!! πŸ˜€

      The shipping costs were crazy! The book cost with discount was amazing, but the shipping cost more than the books! Like I say though, I was still going to go with it because they worked out not too bad, but by the time I went to place the order all the books I’d put in my cart were sold out. R x

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      1. I went to order like 3 books for $10, got to shipping and it was like Β£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. Lol – “a starving uni student” – ironically, it was during uni that my reading really took a back seat, I was reading so many papers and textbooks that personal reading wasn’t as fun and I binge-watched SO many TV shows instead.

      I’ve heard books are really expensive in Australia, why is that??

      I sometimes wonder what happens after people read our reviews – reviews don’t often get many comments, but we can see the view count, and most of our readers are other bloggers, but there are those who aren’t too, and I’d love to know if I’ve been responsible for sales somewhere along the way!! R x

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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 πŸ˜‰ 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. There’s nothing like a good binge-watch to take your brain out for a while though! I still do it sometimes when work is getting to me lol.

        I’m so not familiar with this kind of thing at all – I know people here who go to Aus say the wages and salaries are a lot better than here, but then I didn’t realise the cost of living was so much more either. What’s with this geoblocking? Why?? There’s people here who tap into the US Netflix too because it’s apparently a lot better than ours. I haven’t figured out those things lol

        Haha – that’s brilliant to know! Have you read it yet? The first step is someone buying a book because of my review, the second step is them liking it! I haven’t actually checked which reviews are coming out on top – could be because it’s a little more obscure, or it could be on a curriculum somewhere?? R x

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      3. I know right?! Except I always tend to do it when I have to be doing something else πŸ˜›

        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 πŸ™‚ I ended up buying all of the books, so I can marathon them!

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      4. Haha yes I’ve done that before too, revision procrastination is excellent for my TV show watching!

        It’s weird that that is allowed! I know that happens here sometimes with American products, the iPhone is cheaper in America but in a lot of cases the products won’t work here if it’s imported – but even then the price difference isn’t as extreme as what you guys face. Is there anything being done about it at the minute to try and increase competition and reduce prices for you guys?

        That’s crazy money for a paperback – ours probably range from Β£6.99 to Β£9.99 or so RRP, but I usually pick them up for less than that, Β£2-Β£3 if I can.

        YES!! Excellent idea, did you get The Assassin’s Blade novella bind-up too? I found it really useful in fleshing out Celaena’s character and read it after Throne of Glass but before Crown of Midnight. Think you’ll really like the series. I try not to think about how long it’s going to be until they are all released! R x

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  4. 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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    1. Hi Karen! Thanks for taking the time to comment, it’s great to see some feedback from non-bloggers!

      There are tons of times I’d be reluctant to pick a book up unless there was a deal on it – maybe I had a bad experience with the author previously, but I’ve heard good things about their latest release – or maybe there’s mixed reviews – or maybe it’s a book I’m interested in, but the author isn’t an absolute favourite of mine so I refuse to pay full RRP for it – in all of those cases, if the book hadn’t been a bargain, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up.

      I do read eBooks sometimes, but I still definitely prefer physical books, and I usually find the ones I really want to read don’t often go down that much in price. I can definitely see the benefits of eBooks for storage though – I’m struggling with that at the minute, I need to purge my shelves! I’m constructing a post at the minute that looks at the legality of eBooks though, I never realised that when you buy an eBook, you buy the license to read it, but you don’t actually own it. That seems a bit strange to me.

      I have to say, since I started blogging I do read and buy much more than I used to, and for that reason I need to hunt out deals or it would cost me a small fortune. Thanks so much for your comments, Karen! Means a lot! R x

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  5. 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. πŸ™‚

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

    Great post!!! xo

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    1. Affordability is a big factor, especially because we tend to read so much! When I first started blogging I used NetGalley more (I never did quite figure out Edelweiss!), but because I was new to it, I found out about so many amazing books I’d missed out on over the past few years when my reading had taken a back seat, and because of that I ended up with a hefty backlist wishlist and a BIG TBR, so I stopped using NetGalley until I worked through some of it. Putting together the list of Top Tep Debut Reads for 2015 though made me go on to NetGalley for the first time in ages, and I spotted a lot of reads I was looking forward to, by authors I knew. When I first started out, names and titles wouldn’t jump out at me because I wasn’t aware of them, so NetGalley didn’t entice me as much, because I couldn’t tell the big-hitters from the not-as-great stories – nearly one year on though and that seems to have changed. I think when I’ve made a bit more of a dent in my physical TBR (and gotten my review ratio up a little higher) I’ll hit NetGalley with a bang to get my hands on those books I’m really looking forward to – for free.

      Thanks, Brandie – trying to get into the discussion spirit!! R x

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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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    1. You’re more of an off-setter then, Joy. Some people don’t hunt out bargains as such all the time, but love a great find! I can see why some people would choose not to hunt out deals too, because it can take some time and if it were worked out maybe the time spent finding them doesn’t justify the cheaper price, but I just hate feeling “had”, if you know what I mean? I like to think I’m reasonably smart when it comes to finance, and funnily enough I had a conversation with someone recently about what I would do if I won the lottery, and aside from my biggest splurges being very realistic and sensible, I would probably still try to be frugal with the funds. I’m 24 and boring! Lol I don’t shop at charity shops for books half as much as I should, I might have to take a trip to town this weekend to see what I can find… R x

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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 πŸ™‚

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    1. Haha! Yes, I spend a lot of time window shopping books online! I keep threatening to use my library more and only buy physical editions of books I LOVE, but how can I say no to these kinds of deals?! I used to do the mental list, but found I was forgetting some of them sometimes, so I do have a pretty extensive wishlist and I check the prices every now and then. I like it too, it’s like those people who love going to auctions and what not, I LOVE deals. Like I say, I shop around and haggle for internet, phone deals, insurance etc. and I shop around for the best prices on a lot of what I buy, so books are no different! R x

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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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    1. Nah, I agree, I don’t think second hand sales will affect the author much either way in terms of pay – and it’s not something that can be stopped. Would be interesting to know what some authors/publishers opinions are though!

      Haha – it is definitely dedication, Becky! I’m thinking of putting together a post on all the books I bought last year and what I paid for them versus RRP. I know the saving will be impressive, but likewise, I’m petrified of what the reality is of how much I’ve spent in a year. In my head I have a rough figure, that I think is pretty accurate, but what if I’m WAY off?! I’m going to do it anyway, sounds like a wonderful experiment! Lol R x

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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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    1. Bargain Hunters, assemble! Lol I kind of take pride in my hunting ways, I use loyalty cards and discount vouchers too and my friends laugh and say if I was in the States I’d definitely be a crazy couponer – unfortunately the big coupon craze hasn’t quite made it here yet. I enjoy making my wages stretch and getting the most I can out of my money, and as you say books are a luxury. Well said, Trish! R x

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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 Β£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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    1. I agree, Charlotte, it makes sense that as a reader/buyer most of us are going to look for the best price, I think that’s why stores like Waterstones are going to struggle so much more, because at the minute as far as I can tell, they are usually the most expensive in the market, and while the store environment is lovely, I doubt that will make people part with their cash… I heard that once too about library books, it might be worthwhile taking a look into that this year. I always say I’m going to use the library more, but I rarely get around to it. Great response, Charlotte, thanks! R x

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  11. Love this post!!! πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ˜‰ 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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    1. It’s sad too though because I’d LOVE to be able to shop more at Waterstones, if only those guys would offer more competitive pricing. I literally love going in there, as soon as I step over the threshold I involuntarily snifffff! Lol

      I have started using OverDrive more, my local library has zero parking and isn’t in a great location, but I can only do so many eBooks before my hands demand paper. So, I went online to check opening hours, and I’m gutted to say as of November 2014 because of budget cuts the ONLY time I can go (with working full time) is a Thursday evening. I was even more saddened to see that the huge city library I used to visit as a student is barely open in the evenings now too – it was part of the exam ritual to stay there until late with coffee. R x

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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. πŸ™‚ 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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    1. I wish I still had a local used bookstore – our charity shops have basically taken over for them as that’s the only place people can really leave them in. I spent the most last year on discount book stores buying new, and this year I’m going to try charity shopping more often to see what I can find! Thanks for commenting πŸ™‚ R x

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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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    1. I feel guilty sometimes for buying them, can’t win! I think it’s great that you support the local library like that though, I’m so guilty of not visiting it enough AT ALL. I really should make some more effort. This year, I’ve really gotten into book shopping at charity shops though, and that’s making me feel pretty good actually. It’s hard to feel guilty for buying books when your money is going to a good cause. I like to own books, and I love seeing them on display, so I try to balance that with my bargain hunting tendencies. It’s working out OK so far, except for my really big pile of books I haven’t read yet. But I’ll get to them πŸ˜€ Thanks for commenting, Heather! R x

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