I’ll be completely honest – I buy most of my books second hand. And it’s something I sometimes feel quite guilty about. But as much as I want to support the publishing industry and its up-and-coming authors, I get through books so damn quickly that I’d be spending all my money on new page-turners every week. Since I was a child, I’ve been known to devour a relatively lengthy tome in a single setting, getting through multiple books in a week sometimes. And, unfortunately, I need to feed my face as well as my mind.
Sometimes, I’ll indulge and pick up a new book if I’m dying to get my hands on it when it’s released or want to support my favourite authors, but I feel like a love of reading shouldn’t only be for those who can afford to spend £50+ a month in Waterstones. It should be something that everyone can embrace and enjoy – when I’m in the middle of a completely gripping novel, I actually look forward to my usually horrible daily commute and take the time to relax at bedtime instead of tip-tapping away on my laptop until the early hours. I wouldn’t be able to afford these small pleasures in my day without being able to pick up my books on the cheap, so where do I find book bargains?
Charity Shops & Car Boot Sales
Charity shops are one of my favourite places to buy books – the money is benefitting a good cause, and having a lengthy rummage around the shelves is all part of the fun. The same love of sifting through potential gems also goes for car boot sales – and if you’re buying multiple books from a seller, you’ll often be able to haggle for an even better deal. Paperbacks are usually priced at around 50p-£1, so I usually pick up a few at a time to keep my reading desires at bay for a while. It’s very hit and miss what you’ll find, but f you’re open-minded it’s a great way to discover new authors, and for the price you’re paying, you can happily judge a book by its cover. Another really fun way of doing this is teaming up with a book-loving friend and each picking out a book or two for the other to read (you can even swap afterwards for maximum reading potential!).
One of the loveliest things I’ve ever seen completely by accident in this city is Word on the Water, the London Bookbarge. Yes, it’s a bookshop ON A BARGE. I found it by chance after a journey back into Paddington, just ‘parked’ up outside a back entrance to the station. Something I love about independent bookstores is that they often do a lot more than just sell books to make money – Word on the Water often have bands playing on the roof, and if you find a great local independent store, they regularly have author signings, Q&As and nights of general fun bookishness for avid readers to get involved in.
Sorry, the giants had to be mentioned somewhere – if it helps, the two options above will always be my first choice! However, if it’s a specific book you’re after, chances are your best bet getting it second hand is via Amazon or eBay. With Amazon, hit up the ‘new & used’ section, and with eBay, watch out for ‘Buy It Now’ options that sell the book at pretty much brand new prices anyway. Switch your search to ‘Auction Only’ and bid away – just watch out for added postage costs that might end up making the book cheaper brand new in the end.
If you’re looking for a new read that’s completely free, why not find or organise a book swap with some friends? I’ve been lent some amazing books in the past, and if your friends aren’t that way inclined, try online swaps like Ninja Book Swap.
Hopefully this has inspired some of you to pick up a new book in the coming weeks – so many hobbies and activities can be expensive, but reading doesn’t need to be one of them.
Where do you normally shop for books?