Welcome if you are brand new here! I hope to fill your heart and your mind with ways to be an intentional, purposeful parent, and to parent with literature. And if you are a veteran, welcome back! We are talking about something super practical today, because it just kind of makes a lot of sense in this economic age.
Prefer to Listen & Learn?
Anyone else agree that being a parent is kind of expensive? Yeah, definitely raising my hand there! I only have one kid and holy guacamole, it is expensive to be a parent and books – especially children’s books – are no exception. I cannot believe how much it costs to fill an intentional bookshelf. So, I wanted to give you guys some practical tips to save money on children’s books.
Six ways to save money on books. I want you to put them into action and grow your intentional bookshelf without breaking the bank. Now, the truth is, you might already be doing some of this currently, which is great, but even if you’re not, you can go out and you can start doing them.
They’re not hard, they don’t require a lot of work on your part, and you can absolutely start making this happen and grow your intentional bookshelf without spending every last penny. So, let’s just jump right in!
Tip #1 to Save Money On Books: Buy them on sale
Now, that seems pretty obvious, right? How else do you save money on anything? You buy it on sale. The idea of going and finding books on clearance is really great and sounds awesome…$5 for this book, that’s amazing! But, I want to encourage you not to worry so much about the price, and really, really consider the content of the book. That pretty much goes with anything you add to your intentional bookshelf.
You need to make sure that the content of the book is actually meaningful and purposeful, and has a place on your bookshelf. What’s the point if you spend $3 on a book, but you either never read it or it contradicts your values? Be mindful of that.
That said, definitely be on the hunt because I have scored some seriously good deals at Barnes & Noble when they have the special sale: buy two books and then you get a 3rd one for free. They have that sale all the time and those books are pretty solid, but I always sift through them because I want to make sure that we’re not just buying books because it’s cheap.
Of course, that kind of goes for anything in your house. If you’re being intentional about the way you’re spending your money, and adding things into your home, you can’t just buy anything just because it’s on sale. I feel like there’s that weird feeling we get, where it’s like if I don’t buy this, I’m somehow losing money, and that’s just not true!
That mentality, we need to break that.
The same goes for books. Don’t just buy it because it’s on clearance. Have a plan in mind and know what you want or what you’re looking for before you go.
Some practical ways you can do that is know the titles you’re looking for, specifically. Know the authors you like or your family likes, or know the theme or the values that you are trying to fill your bookshelf with right now.
For example, if you’re looking for books about courage, make sure when you go to the bookstore and you go to that clearance section, you’re kind of filtering out those choices by that theme, just to help you break through the noise and the clutter. It’s not to say that books that are on clearance are there for a reason, because they’re terrible books, because that’s just not true.
Don’t waste money by just buying things that you don’t need or want, or really have a place on your bookshelf.
Moral of this tip: definitely search those clearance bins and those clearance aisles, but just do so with a filter.
Tip #2 to Save Money On Books: Used bookstores!
Utilize thrift stores and used bookstores, online and offline. There’s a couple different things you can look at online for this. The key here is to just be willing to hunt around. It’s the same rule as mentioned in the above tip, you’re not going to find that every book in a used bookstore or a thrift store is a knockout. You have to go into those places understanding this fact and being willing to put in a little bit of effort to search for good books.
What’s awesome is a lot of the used bookstores have exchange programs, where you take in your old books and you return them to them, and then they give you credit for new books. My husband and I used to do that all the time when we were living in Pensacola, Florida. There was this awesome used bookstore, on Navy Blvd, with an amazing exchange program. You provide X number of books and get credit for more!
What’s nice about this is you’re basically recycling through your books as your kids outgrow them. For example, if you have books about potty training… I always use this example because it’s so temporal and is going to pass eventually…if you don’t plan on having more children, and you have a bunch of potty training books that you don’t need, consider taking them to a used bookstore to swap them out for new books that do fit your current life situation!
That’s just an easy, simple, way to save money on those books. Frankly, used bookstores are an excellent place to find seriously good quality books, that perhaps have small stains or rips in them.
Another great physical used bookstore is in Julien in San Diego, California. A lot of the books are really, really old, which I thought was cool because they still aligned with our values, but they have that kind of vintage feel to them. We got this big dictionary and it’s got three or four words for each letter and it’s awesome. It has a couple stains but it was absolutely worth it. The book retails at about $20 and we scored it for $2.99! So in terms of those small stains…I think we can manage.
Again, I want to stress this disclaimer of sorts: it’s always helpful to go through the books and make sure that they align with your values before buying them. There’s no point in buying something just because it’s cheap.
Related to used bookstores: find book outlets! These are stores that just have books that are overstocked or they are older books, but still relevant and valuable. We went to a book outlet over here, in South Carolina, and we got 6 quality books for $26. It was crazy!
Tip #3 to Save Money On Books: Book Swaps.
This is kind of the same concept as the used bookstore, where you have outgrown the books or your family no longer likes them for whatever reason, but they’re still good quality. This is a great time to host a book swap with your friends!
How it works: everybody brings, five or ten books that they are no longer in love with or no longer relevant to their family, they’ve outgrown them, and everybody swaps them around.
It works really well if you have kids that are different ages. Using the potty book example again, eventually my daughter will be done potty training and I’ll be able to pass that off to a friend that I have that has a newborn or has a one-year-old and as they’re getting ready to gear up to potty train, they’ll be able to pad their bookshelf with those books and they won’t have to buy them.
It’s a really fun way to get together with your friends anyway, and what’s nice is that you can take the recommendations from your friends, who you trust, who you ideally have similar values with and respect their opinions.
This is just an easy way to say that book is good or that book is not good without having to read the whole darn thing, which is great for a chapter book or middle grade book, depending on old your kids are. Do a book swap with your friends, it’s an easy way to save money on books and to keep only the relevant books on your bookshelf.
Tip #4 to Save Money On Books: Go for the older books.
This applies to book series but also authors in general. Their newer books are going to be more expensive, and so if you like an author, but you can’t really afford their newer books right now, go check out some of their other older books and see if you like those as well, if they match your intentional bookshelf, and invest in those first, because they’re going to be a lot cheaper.
Sometimes it’s quite significant, even a $5 or $10 difference which means you might be able to get a couple older books in a series versus just one that’s still in line with your bookshelf.
Of course I’m going to repeat this: It has to align with the purpose and message of your intentional bookshelf, but you can still save money on these things. Get older books in a series instead of the newest ones, but always at least check them out first.
Tip #5 to Save Money On Books: The Book Fair!
This is actually not a tip that I came up with, this was contributed by Heather Farris of the Balanced Mamas, because she has a school-aged daughter and so I don’t have any school-aged kids. I was chatting with her and she said that she always has a plan before the book fair list comes out.
Her family will have a list of book titles they are looking for and when the book fair pamphlet comes out, they’ll open up the pamphlet and they will look through it and see if there are any books that are on their list.
The books are typically cheaper in the book fair list, which means it is a great time to invest. I love this idea because she comes prepared & it helps her limit the options. She’s applying that filter that I keep mentioning, and she’s making it easier for her to say no to potential choices that might not align with her bookshelf.
The thing about buying something through the catalog is you don’t get the opportunity to read through it. And if I’ve said one thing over and over here, on the blog and on the podcast, is that you have to read through books, you cannot just take them for face value by the title or even by the description.
A great way to get to know a book without reading the entire thing is by looking it up in The Intentional Book Club where you can see parent reviews, a synopsis (written by a parent) as well as the values, themes, and topics the book covers in detail. Start your free account!
Tip #6 to Save Money On Books: Use the Library
Use the library as your ultimate test-driving resource. You have to know what you’re looking for before investing in a book. Utilizing the library to test out books before you buy them will eventually save you money in the long run because you won’t end up buying books that are a bad fit for your family or ones that your kids don’t like and that you’re going to get rid of anyway.
For example, say you spend $10 on a book, maybe you got it on clearance, but you don’t actually like it. Perhaps it contradicts your values or your kids are just plain not interested in it, and you eventually sell it or you get rid of it or you throw it away, you basically threw out money!
On the flip is, you could have gone to the library ahead of time, got that book, checked it out for free, and realized it wasn’t a good fit for your library in your home library. What I love about the library is that you get the opportunity to spend a lot of time with the book.
There have been times that I have gone to a bookstore and I’m trying to read through the books before I buy them, because I always do that, I always read through books before I get them and thought it was a great book and I buy it. Then I come home and I realize, gosh, the book doesn’t even have a purpose or place on our bookshelf!
Checking it out from the library gives you the chance to read it ten, twenty times with your kids if it’s a short book, and then really decide if it is worth the investment. Is it a long-term fit for your intentional bookshelf or is it just one to read and then give back to the library?
P.S. that’s okay if it’s a read and give back book…the book still served its purpose, it still had value, and it’s okay that it is not one of those timeless books that you keep forever on your bookshelf.
I truly hope this helps you save money on books, if you have any other awesome tips for making the most of your book budget I would love for you to share them in the comments below!