how to build your home library for less

Hand raised. I admit it. I’m a bibliophile.  I love to read and I LURVE me some books.   The thing is books can get expensive.  With the volume of my reading habit and now all my kids growing into book lovers, along with the fact that we are homeschoolers, we could easily spend hundreds of dollars every month in order to read everything we want.  I’m going to show you how to build your home library on the cheap so you can grow your collection for less. 

First of all, let me say that we make GOOD use of our local library.  We have a pretty good selection at our library. I always check both the brick and mortar library, but also the digital library that we have access to. 

Borrowing from the library has so many benefits, but so does acutally having a collection of your own.

Why you need a home library:

  • Kids are more likely to pick up a book at random when they don’t have anything better to do and having good literature available is the best way for kids to naturally do this on their own.
  • Kids love to read and re-read their favorites.
  • If you have a large family, or even just a couple kids, you know investing in good quality literature will be money well spent when each child will have a chance to read a classic over and over.
  • Studies show that having more books in the home improve literacy, numeracy and technology skills.

But sometimes I can’t find the book we want either at the library or for a decent price on kindle.  Or maybe it’s a book I just know is worth adding to our home library. There are definitely times when paying full price is worth it to me, but most often I look for used books.

Where to look to build your home library for cheap:

1. Library books sales:

These sales are good, though they can sometimes be like walking into a mad house, especially the first couple hours the morning of the first sale. You can find some really good books and prices though. Our library has a big sale a couple times a year that lasts a couple weekend and the prices go down the closer the sale is to ending. 

2. Good will/thrift stores:

If you are willing to be on the hunt and take some time, you can find some amazing deals at second hand stores like the Good Will or smaller local thrift stores. These stores can be hit and miss, but sometimes you happen upon some good finds. I went in the Good Will the other day on a whim, expecting to find nothing and walked out with a really nice stack of books on our to be read list.  Most second hand stores have a book section.

3. Yard sales/church sales:

These can be the absolute cheapest books you will be able to find, if you can find them that is. Saturday mornings are prime time in my house right now during the season of life I am in and let’s just say I will NOT be hauling my six young children from sale to sale.  But if you have the time and the inclination, you can find the cheapest books this way.  It’s really like going on a treasure hunt. Yard sales are awesome because you can bargain and/or negotiate lump sales. (ex. Will you take $5 for this whole bag of books?  Sure!)

4. Homeschool sales:

Our local homeschool support organization hosts a book/curriculum sale every spring.  I always look forward to this and make it a priority. Chances are there is something like this where you live. These are great because there’s a good chance you’ll find at least one thing you’ve been thinking about, you can get a mental list ready ahead of time of what you are looking for AND it’s like a yardsale/church sale where you can negotiate. 

4. Used book stores:

I think these are becoming less and less common with more people turning to the internet to buy their books, but these are a fun option and can be especially good if you are looking for something rare or collectible. A lot of used books stores will buy from you too which is nice because you get get credit for books you don’t want anymore to buy the ones you want.

5. Buying online (amazon, and my favorite

Ok, I saved my favorite and best for last.  I buy almost all our books online and used. But where to look?  There are a lot of used book online retailers but my favorites right now are amazon and thriftbooks, with thriftbooks being my top preference.

how to build your home library for cheap

Why I love

  • Cheap used books (average priced at $3-$4, that’s the price of a fancy coffee).
  • Free shipping over $10, shipping usually only .99 if you aren’t buying $10 worth. 
  • Free book after you spend so much (based on point system per $ spent).
  • Friend referral program.
  • They always have bonus sales and points promotions.

A few tips for buying used books for your home library:

  • Prepare ahead of time by having a preferably written list (or a mental running list at least).
  • Keeping a list helps you know what you are looking for and avoid buying a book you already have.
  • Keeping a list helps you be ready to snatch up the books on your to be read list when you see them.
  • Flip through the pages to make sure none have been torn out, or are marked up more than you prefer.
  • If buying used online, pay attention to the condition the book is in, based on seller’s ranking system or comments.

So, what do you think? I’d love to hear how you build your home library for cheap. Leave a comment below!