“See, the sad thing about a guy like you is in 50 years you’re gonna staht doin some thinkin on your own and you’re gonna come up with the fact that there are two certaintees in life. One, don’t do that. And Two, you dropped a hundred and fifty grand on a f***** education you coulda got for a dollah fifty in late chahges at the public library”—Will (Matt Damon), Good Will Hunting
I have always been a bookworm. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a pile of books on my nightstand or on a bookshelf, waiting to be read. Oftentimes, I’m in the middle of two or three books at once (simply because I can’t make up my mind as to which one I want to read. So I read a few simultaneously). But there is something about books that makes me feel a little bit richer.
Books do so much for us. They enrich our lives, expand our imaginations (and vocabularies), expose us to information and ideas that we might not ordinarily be exposed to, teach us, entertain us and provide hours of free entertainment.
When I was deep in debt, I spent even more hours reading books than normal. The library was our Friday night activity of choice. And sometimes, on a Saturday, we would go to the local Barnes and Noble armed with a few dollars for drinks, snacks for our daughter, and a notebook to take notes on ideas we read in books (for the record, we did buy a book or magazine every once in a while). It was nice to have the ability to read, learn, and get out of the house for minimal cost.
But what if you don’t have the luxury of a good public library or a bookstore nearby? How do you make books a part of your life at a reasonable cost? Here are a few ideas:
• eBay – If you’re a big purchaser of books, and you particularly like classics or hard to find books (like the Sweet Pickles series. I am on a desperate hunt for the entire collection), eBay is a good place to start. My sister got her ex-boyfriend a first edition copy of Atlas Shrugged for a very reasonable price by purchasing it on eBay. eBay is also a great place to pick up inexpensive copies of kids’ books. Be careful though; since it’s an auction site, there might be people bidding to help jack up the price for the seller.
• Websites like paperbackswap.com – I don’t currently use this service but I know a lot of people who do. Essentially, you join (for free!), list books you’d like to swap, and then pick from others’ lists. There are also hardbacks, audio books, and others as well. It’s a great way to give those old books of yours a new life as well as picking up books you might otherwise not be able to find. Beware that books are shipped at your expense so if you’re really tight on money, this might not be the best option.
• Yard sales, thrift stores – Always a great resource for cheap books. My only gripes about these are 1) it is difficult to sift through the disorganized bins of books and 2) sometimes the books are so old, the information is completely outdated. Other than that, there are many books that are timeless, so if you’re willing to take your time, you can find some literary gems.
• Trade with friends – I have a very eclectic taste when it comes to books. Because of that, it’s difficult for me to decide what to read. I often rely on friends and family to make suggestions. I will also ask those friends and family if I can borrow books. To be fair, I also lend mine to those who ask. But be prepared not to get the books back. I lent my copy of “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” to a family member last year and I’m not sure where it is now.
Dave Ramsey likes to say “Ten years from now, you’ll be the same person you are except for the people you meet and the books you read”. I totally agree with that statement. Books are essential, and a great way to stay entertained and informed at a reasonable price.
How do you afford books without breaking the bank?