8 Alternatives to Avoid Paying Full Price for Books

8 Alternatives to Avoid Paying Full Price for Books

I love books so much that I challenged myself to read one book each week for a total of 52 this year… and I’ve already surpassed my goal. If you’re a kindred book spirit, let’s be friends on Goodreads.

What I don’t love about books is when I want one that just came out and it’s ridiculously expensive.

With a little self control and planning, you should never pay full price for books, even if they just came out. I’m willing to bet that the book of your dreams is available through one of the following options at a highly reduced cost!

8 Alternatives to Avoid Paying Full Price for Books

Used Books on Amazon

Let’s start with the basics. I’ve always used Amazon to get the best pricing on textbooks for college, but it also often offers the best price for a book I’m desiring. The kindle route is not the best way to go – especially if you love the feeling of a book in your hand and the ability to turn the pages on your own. Instead, search for a book of your choice and look at the used book pricing. There are few books I can’t find for a dollar or less (plus shipping). If I absolutely can’t find a book for a favorable price, I add it to my Amazon Wish List and monitor it periodically for pricing changes.

Kindle Unlimited

Amazon built it’s reputation as being your one stop shop for books, and it’s new Kindle Unlimited subscription feature is no exception. It’s $10 per month and allows unlimited access to titles in the library. The library is pretty extensive and often includes new release titles. There used to be a similar service called Oyster, but it’s going out of business… probably because Amazon got in the game. At any rate, Amazon’s library is hard to beat.


Shelfie is an interesting little app I came across. Basically, you use your phone’s camera to take a “Shelfie” of the books on your bookshelf. Shelfie analyzes your collection and matches it with the free ebook versions of your book. Their library is somewhat limited as of the last time I used it, but it’s definitely something to watch and an interesting concept.


Duh! I don’t think I need to remind you that the library has FREE and NEW RELEASE books… but I will. But what you may not know about the library is that they also offer access to ebooks free with a library card. I wrote an article awhile back explaining the process. Remember the Amazon Wish List I mentioned awhile back? I like to cross reference the books on that list with the books that I can rent online.

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg takes out of copyright books (currently over 50,000) and makes them available by ebook. Now’s your chance to catch up on the classics – for free!

Discount eBook Newsletters

OHFB and BookBub are two email newsletters I subscribe to that tempt me on a daily basis to buy ebooks, but at a ridiculously reduced price. You can’t opt for a daily email or weekly digest.

Local Used Bookstores

I’m going to ask you to go in with no expectations. Don’t have a specific title in mind, just be open to the possibilities. Used bookstores are absolute gems and used books can be DIRT cheap. There’s one in Lakeview called Bookleggers that I feel a particular fondness for and has some ridiculously good deals.

Book of the Month Club

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my experience starting the Book of the Month club subscription. It’s awesome! As soon as my 3 month subscription is over, I’m paying for a full year upfront. They let you choose between 5 books curated by interesting book lovers, with prices as low as $10 (including shipping) for a brand new hardcover. Can’t beat it.

What are your best tips to avoid paying full price for books? Share in the comments!

By Maddy Osman

Maddy is the founder of Chicago Cheap Ass. She loves to read, travel, cook, and play with her adorable dog Leonidas.

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