Beat the credit crunch: Five cheap ways to get books

Book exchange in Lympstone (Devon)

I like to read and I used to buy my books new in the many book shops London seems to have. I normally don’t really want to keep books after I read them so I found some better and cheaper ways to get books and to get rid of them again.

And in these times of credit crunch: here are five cheap ways to get books:

  • 1. Exchange with a friend.
    Probably one of the easiest ways to get fresh books to read and to get rid of some of your own books. You could organise a little book meeting and discuss a book over tea. Nice and easy!
  • 2. Charity shops
    The UK is a haven for charity shops (Oxfam, Red Cross etc), and most of them have a book section. I have bought several books in charity shops, they are cheap (ranging from 50p to £2) and often in good condition.
  • 3. Readitswapit
    I use the readitswapit website a lot. You can list your books there, and exchange them with other users on the site for the price of a stamp. It works brilliantly.

    The site is aimed at the UK though and I don’t know if there are any international equivalents out there, if there are, please add them in the comments!

  • 4. Ebay
    There are loads of books on sale on ebay, and it is certainly possible to grab a bargain there. In order to keep postage to a minimum, i is a good idea to buy them from someone who lives in the same country as you do.
  • 5. Lympstone book exchange
    And there are places like the book exchange in Lympstone. Lympstone is a tiny village near Exmouth. We had a wander through the small streets and accidentally stumbled over this outdoor book exchange. The idea here is that you can take any book you like from their shelf and leave the amount of money you find reasonable for the book in the post box beside it. You read the book and if you like return the book the next time you are there. (The money they get for the books goes to RNLI (Royal National Lifeboats Institution – which is a charity in the UK).

    I picked up Tony Parsons – The Family Way and left them £1.50. The stack of books looked great and I really liked the fact that people are still trusted. There were no people around to guard the book shelve nor the money. Lovely.

Other possibilities (which I haven’t tried myself):
Book crossing – leave a book for someone else to find, and register the book’s travels on the website
The new London based Choosewhatyouread, an attempt to get people to read books in stead of the free newspapers messing up the bus and underground.

Do you have any tips on how to get cheap books? Please add them to the comments!

5 thoughts to “Beat the credit crunch: Five cheap ways to get books”

  1. There’s a Twitter (Boekenruilen) where you you swap your books and I remember the NS (Dutch Railways) had something simular. Leave your book in the train or at the station to have it picked up by someone else.

  2. Don’t forget Amazon’s second hand option. I’ve bought great books in very good condition for almost nothing.

  3. We are having a library at the place where I work (the local chamber of industry and commerce), and some time ago someone had the great idea to dedicate some of the shelves to fiction books. You can leave your private books there when you don’t need them any longer. Or, when you are looking for something to read, you just go there and choose a book. You can keep it if you like, or you just bring it back after reading. Great idea, worth imitating.

  4. About trust: on some fields here sunflowers are grown. When they are in full splendor, anyone can cut down a few and drop some coins in a metal (reinforced!) tubelike piggy bank. A price is suggested on a sign. Same thing I have seen for pumpkins. By the sheer volume of books published anually it seems books are less valued these days. People seem to part easier with books. Did I miss the outcome of your ear surgery or is it still in the pipeline?

  5. @Pedro – I like the idea of leaving them on the train. I had never heard about the twitter one though!

    @Edwinek – I actually did that too, order them second hand from Amazon for nearly no money!

    @Zazz – I visited a train company in Wales and they had the exact same thing! Forgot about that. I think it is a great idea indeed.

    @Joachim – yes I normally read a book once, and have no problems reading a second hand one. And I like the idea of books moving on to the next reader after I have read it.

    Ear surgery is tomorrow!

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