Top 5 Ways To Save Money On Books

SecondHandBooks Whether printed or electronic books are your poison, voracious reading can be an expensive habit. Here's our top ways to keep reading for less.

Picture by gillrick

The question of whether Australians pay too much for their books is often controversial, and it's also questionable whether buying from overseas stores always saves you money. However, no matter where you stand on the issue of local copyright or buying overseas, there are plenty of tactics to cut down on your monthly bookstore bill.

5. Use your local library

While this might seem like the most obvious hint possible, most times I go into a library I get the distinct impression that there are more people there for the free Internet access than anything else. I'm not knocking that, but joining your local library remains the easiest way to read pretty much anything you want without paying a cent. Just make sure you don't run up any fines — Library Elf is an excellent tool to stop that happening. Capital city residents can also take advantage of the wider resources of state libraries, though those don't generally allow borrowing.

4. Use Project Gutenberg

OK, you won't find the latest bestseller on Project Gutenerg, but with more than 28,000 books available in electronic form, there should be something to tickle your fancy no matter what your reading tastes. If the formatting on Gutenberg titles is a bit basic for your liking, check out GutenMark.

3. Buy books second-hand

Buying books second-hand has always been a favourite tactic for students and other impoverished types, and in the Internet age getting the title you want is easier than ever. For bargain shopping, eBay is a logical place to start. The odds of your not finding a specific title on AbeBooks are rare, no matter how esoteric, but if it is rare you can expect to pay for the privilege.

2. Order books in bulk

As a general rule of thumb, ordering multiple books from the same store will result in a cheaper overall postage cost — a principle that holds whether your preferred seller is eBay, Amazon or a specialist site. That doesn't mean you should spend twice as much to save $10 on postage, but it does suggest that book-buying binges can be more efficient than a constant trickle of titles. Special mention should be made here of UK book e-tailer Book Depository, which offers free postage to Australia (and anywhere else).

1. Use comparison sites

If you want to get a specific title to Australia at the cheapest possible price, look no further than Lifehacker favourite Booko, which offers a price comparison that includes all major local and international retailers. Since we first wrote about the site, it has added DVD price comparisons as well.

Got your own tactic for bargain reading? Tell us in the comments.

Lifehacker's weekly Loaded column looks at better ways to manage (and stop worrying about) your money.


    Can you give a name and URL if possible of the UK bookstore you are referring to towards the end of '2. Order books in bulk'

    Wow, I was showing some work colleagues Booko a couple of hours ago after we had a conversation on costs of buying books.

    The NSW State Library is pretty good and more often than not has exactly what I'm looking for. Local and uni libraries, on the other hand, are hopeless. I sometimes spend more time looking for the book than actually using the book itself. They get pinched, hidden in various places, or have relevant pages ripped out. Annoying as hell!

    The cheapest books are the ones you don't buy.

    The etailer would be

    I've been using for about a decade as my meta-search engine.

    Second @Bungs's bit on the uk bookstore... what is its url?

    The best place to find nearly any book is Sign up and you can search for millions of books in pdf, chm, pdb, djvu
    great for finding educational books if your a uni student and need to save money!!!

    that made me think - will ebooks and ebook readers kill the second hand book market? It's not like there's a legal way to trade electronic titles yet.

    Borrow them off your friends... sell em to the second hand books store... or not...

    @Pete that would be

    @Bungs That would be

    (Sorry @Pete - that will teach me for not reading the comments again before jumping for the Submit button).

    Easy way to save around 50% on any book - don't buy them from an Australian retailer, whether online or bricks and mortar.

    For Sydneyites, I'd like to recommend the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts Library on Pitt street, you pay a annual membership fee, but for fantasy/sci fic/horror readers it has an extensive collection, well worth popping in and checking it out and there is always a raft of new books comming in cross all genres and they will take suggestions for new titles if you really want a particular book.

    Amazon charged me a per book shipping which annoyed me, so I have been buying stuff from the book depository.

    For people in Melbourne, I highly recommend an awesome remainder book shop called The Book Grocer. You can pick up a bunch of good reads to keep you going for weeks, and they're a fraction of the retail cost. They have a few locations. You can find them here:

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