Book Buying on A Budget
So many beautiful books, so little money. Here are some saving and book buying tips bound to save you some dosh.
Let’s all be honest. Books are expensive. It makes sense that they’re expensive since printing them costs resources and time that we must pay for, but we must also afford.
As a student, getting the best bang for my buck with book buying is a must. I’m lucky in that I have a part-time job and have been working quite a lot over the last year and a half, hence my dramatic increase in book buying since I acquired said job. After my intense binge and my first year of university, I’ve slowed down quite a bit because of a. I have too many books to read now on my tbr, and b. I spend my money on other necessary things, like paying for my car and saving up for future important things, like an apartment (I’m starting to adult and it scares me). With this slow down and this lack of funds for book buying, I’ve had to be really smart with my shopping. So here are my suggestions, in order of most expensive to least:
Plan & Prioritise
Planning my finances is so important and I’m extremely diligent with it because I did not grow up in a family where we could afford buying books including new textbooks, or where I got pocket money every week for doing chores around the house, so I take care to use my money wisely. Before I get paid, I’ve already calculated how much I’ll get paid and how I’m going to use that. This means that every fortnight I know how much money I have to spend and can make the decisions on book buying based on that. But when I mean plan, I also mean plan what books you want to buy.
Planning or at least having a list of books you want to get or at least know they are releasing makes it easier to budget. Like; ok I’m 100% buying this, this and this, then stop when it makes your budget. In Australia, books are more expensive than in America for sure, so for a paperback, I always estimate that they’re $20-$30, and a hardback about the same since I would buy them online (cheaper and hardbacks are like rare gems in bookstores here).
I also know that there’s always that huge urge to do a huge haul and buy heaps of books at once, but in reality, those books aren’t going away anytime soon. Unless it’s a very competitive buy like a signed copy or special edition, there’s no rush. If there are special editions and signed copies, you should generally try to find out in advance when they’ll release or at least maybe put away a little money for it if you know it’s coming soon. Prioritise the books according to how much you want them. Is it by your favourite author? Or just a cute book someone recommended to you on Instagram? Or does it sound so interesting you’d start reading it now? Prioritising is key.
I have dozens of books I’d love to buy right now, but I have to be realistic. There’s no point buying them right now when it’ll sit on my shelf for another 2-3 months not being read when someone else could be enjoying it elsewhere and I can buy an exact pristine copy a few months later when I’ll actually read it.
Now, I won’t be a hypocrite and say that I’m an expert at this planning thing. Sometimes I do splurge every now and then, and I’ve felt that horrible guilt afterwards. DO NOT feel guilty. If you want a book, you really want it, then it’s your choice and be proud to use your hard earned money for something you want. Bree is always telling me, don’t regret it. It’s done. Enjoy it.
Use Help Wisely
When I mean help in this instance, I mean the lovely and dangerous thing that is AFTERPAY. Afterpay is a good friend of mine, and I have a very good record with it. If you don’t know what afterpay is, it’s kind of like a credit card without the interest. It allows you to buy things only and in-store, not pay anything upfront then pay a quarter of the cost every fortnight (or sometimes pay that first quarter in store, depends on the shop). Pretty much like layby except that you get what you want right now instead of later.
Tread lightly on this. Many, many people underestimate their ability to use afterpay because they don’t plan their repayments, forget about them or don’t have enough in their account, then get charged hefty fees for not paying for something they’ve already received. I have used it many times to buy books on Booktopia where my cart ended up being a ridiculous amount but I went, eh, I’ll be paying for it slowly so I won’t feel it. This is true, but that’s only because I budget for it. If I use afterpay to buy $100 worth of books in one go, you gotta plan to have that $25 every fortnight in your account and your budget or you’ll end up spending even more for those precious books than originally thought.
I like to use afterpay as my kind of bookish credit card. I don’t own a credit card (god help me if I get one) and I prefer it this way. I’ve bought other things with it that I’m grateful it has helped me be able to afford them like expensive Christmas and birthday presents for my parents or a cute work handbag that my laptop actually fits in. Some people don’t like using this service, some people like me do. It’s definitely an option though, if you prefer to buy all the books you want in one month in one go, or if like me recently, you prefer to buy one here and there throughout a month or two. It is definitely a good option but one that has to be managed.
Buy Your Favourites
Back when I had just started getting back into reading and got a job, my plan was to buy books I had already read from either an ebook or a library book so that I bought a book I knew I loved. It makes sense that you only buy your favourites because you’ll want to reread them and it’s not a waste of money if you end up hating it. Using that system saved me a lot of money during that time when I wasn’t working enough to be able to buy books I hadn’t read before. So that’s something you can do too. I’m sort of getting into that system again at the moment, but more towards buying books that I have a really good feeling, I’ll love.
This is something I’ve been doing for years not just for books. In this online world we live in now, it is so easy to google what you want and open up a tab for each store you can buy it from and compare prices. Comparing prices can save a lot of money. If I’m book shopping online I’ll check Book depository, Booktopia and Wordery in general but also other stores for discounts and deals. Although shopping from bookstores in person is nice, it is more expensive, and while I do it more often now to support those stores, I have shopped online way more because it’s just more affordable.
Have a Look About at the Shopping Centre
Americans have the Book Outlet, we have a string of somewhat always “closing down” Book Grocers that all have the same kind of books. The cheap, pristine condition book leftovers with a black marker on the side of the pages and selling at super cheap prices of like $6-$10. It is a dream come true for us bookworms.
What I have found though, is that if there isn’t a book grocer near me (there never is), I’ll find one of those pop-up bookstores in the middle on my shopping centre with those books. And they sometimes have some great new releases for cheap! It’s how I basically bought the whole A Thousand Pieces of Your trilogy and more. These pop-up stores and book outlets are definitely a huge save.
Find Your Bookish Opportunities
Op Shops are amazing. Also known as thrift stores, they have some great second books in great condition for $1-$5 each! I’ve found pristine hardbacks and new paperbacks of new releases in op shops. I’ve found that also going to a richer suburb or neighbourhood you’ll find better stuff for sale in op shops. I found a new paperback of Red Sister last year in an op shop closer to the city, 3 months after its release, good as new.
I know that there is a stigma against second-hand books but they are great stores for finding good books on a budget, and you never know what you might find.
I feel like I don’t even need to explain this. eBooks have been taking over the world because they’re so much cheaper and easier to distribute. When I had my kindle (rip Hugo), I took it everywhere and the selection of books were huge compared to in-store. I don’t read many ebooks now because it hurts my eyes to stare at my phone for so long but they’re definitely a great option for affordable reads.
Find a Library
Last but never least, the library. Before I got a job, I was a regular visitor to the library and reserved the new releases as soon as they were on the system. It saddens me a little because my local library now is so small, has the worst opening hours and they charge me to reserve books which sucks. My previous library was amazing, and I was known to borrow 5-10 books at a time. Libraries are bundles of joy that give us FREE books. They actually help support your authors too, because the more popular a book is, the more the library will order in for more people to read.
Most libraries also have an online system where you can shop for them, put your name on one and pick it up. My library and maybe yours is also part of this app system that lets you borrow ebooks and audiobooks on your device. It’s called Borrowbox and it’s like an online library. There are so many opportunities to read without having to spend anything now. If you don’t have a job, it’s okay, don’t despair. Libraries are here for you. This could also be a great way to save so that you can read then buy the physical copies of your favourites, like I said above. I’m personally trying to get through the physical copies I’ve yet to read that I own so that I can go to the library again. (I’ll hopefully also have my license to go when they’re actually open which will be exciting :P)
I hope you’ve found this guide a little helpful. I felt like it might be something interesting for others to know about if they’re craving books as much as I did and continue to do. Let me know in the comments if you use any of these tips and what others you’ve found helpful for you too!
Until next time,