If you’d like to build your home library on a budget or are wondering where to buy cheap books online or in person or even get free books for kids and adults, try these 25+ suggestions!
If you’re a book lover, you probably have dreams of a home library somewhere along the lines of the one in the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast.
I mean. . .who wouldn’t want a massive room with floor to ceiling bookshelves, a bunch of squashy chairs and, hey, while we’re at it why not also some magical servants/household objects to bring you hot chocolate while you read?
Unfortunately, most of us don’t have a princely budget to stock that home library.
I get frequent questions about how to build a home library on a budget or where to buy cheap books online and a few months ago I asked for recommendations on Instagram for how to build your library on a budget or find inexpensive or even free books.
There were so many great ideas – no castle required.
I also feel like I should mention that I do NOT feel like you have to have a massive home library to create a family culture of reading. The public or school libraries are wonderful resources for bringing books into your home and exposing your children to a wide range of great titles without having to pay a cent.
So if you don’t have the space or budget to own very many books of your own, don’t worry that you’re ruining your chance to raise a reader.
All that said, if you ARE interested in building your home library without breaking the bank, here are a bunch of great suggestions:
Where to Buy Cheap Books Online for your Home Library
- Used Books on Amazon. When you’re buying a book on Amazon, you can choose the “Used” option under Hardback or Paperback and they often are significantly cheaper (although you generally have to pay about $3.99 of shipping).
- Kohl’s Cares for Kids. They have tons of popular books for $5 each (and sometimes on sale for $3.50) plus coordinating stuffed animals. You can buy these cheap books online or at your local Kohl’s.
- Half Price Books. I love Half Price Books and we go fairly regularly to our local one. They have a massive collection and excellent prices on both new and used books.
- Abebooks.com. You can search any title and they’ll show you all the options at different prices to buy that book.
- Discoverbooks.com. I’d actually never heard of this one before, but I did some research and I LOVE their mission to keep books out of landfills by collecting them locally and reselling them or donating them classrooms or families in need of books. And if they aren’t usable any longer, they make sure they’re responsibly recycled. Their prices are excellent and you can find a donation center here.
- Book Outlet. This is another one that was new to me, but they have nearly 100,000 new books in their collection that are WAY marked down. Avery and Augustine said, “Their selection changes from month to month but I’ve found SO many unique titles, vintage titles and titles from favorite picture book makers. It’s best to do a search for a certain author or illustrator’s name, or title that you have in mind.” You also get $10 off your first order of $25+, making it extra affordable.
- Thriftbooks.com. Basically like searching your local thrift store except you don’t have to leave your house and they are delivered right to your door! If you’re looking for cheap books online, this is a gold mine.
- Better World Books. They sell used books and use some of the proceeds to help support literacy programs.
- PaperBackSwap. You list the books you’re willing to swap, then when someone requests it, you send it to them (you pay postage) and you can choose any book from their collection (well over a million titles) and it ships free to you.
- CamelCamelCamel. You plug in a book on Amazon you’re interested in, and when the price drops, you’ll get an email so you can buy.
Where to Buy Cheap Books Locally for your Home Library
- Buy holiday books after the season is over and they’re hugely discounted.
- Thrift Stores. You can pick up titles for a SONG at places like Deseret Industries or Goodwill or Salvation Army, as well as local thrift stores. They’re often less than $1 each and you can usually find lots of classics or popular series.
- School or library book sales. This is a super simple way to buy cheap books for your home library, plus no shipping and you get them right away!
- Used Book Stores. Google ones in your area and stop by to see what treasures you’ll find. Some of my favorite books from my childhood were ones my mom bought at a little used book store in Wisconsin, including a beautiful hardbound set of Louisa May Alcott books.
- FaceBook Marketplace. You can search by your location and see hundreds of books being sold for less than a dollar each.
- Scholastic Book Orders usually have $1 deals, plus there is the benefit of supporting you school too. Talk about a place to buy cheap books! (Although, I do find that often these $1 books are not the highest-quality literature).
- Kids consignment shops. Many of them, like Kid to Kid, have a great selection of board books or popular chapter books in good condition.
- Garage sales. I LOVE garage sale books – you can usually get books for 10 to 50 cents each. Don’t forget to negotiate or ask for a discount if you buy a bunch at once.
How to get free books for Kids or Adults
- Request books instead of cards at a baby shower. The women who threw me a baby shower did this and I LOVE the board books I have with sweet notes from my friends written inside them.
- Ask grandparents or family members to give books instead of toys. Toys might be more exciting when they’re first unwrapped, but our books usually end up being our most long-loved gifts. And as a grown-up, a copy of a new book that you don’t have to wait six months on the library hold line for, is a treasure!
- Sign up for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. If your area participates, they send free books to your child every month from birth until age 5 – no limit on family income! My address isn’t in a participating area, but you can see if yours is here and if it is, you should definitely sign up right away for free books.
- Host a book swap. Have everyone bring a certain number of books, let everyone look through them and take home a new set! (I’m kind of dying to do this now). This is the easiest way to get free books and give other families free books for kids.
- Usborne Books & More. If you’re not opposed to network marketing, you can host book parties or become a distributor and get free books for kids based on how many you sell.
Ongoing Habits for Building a Home Library on a Budget
- Build it into your budget. Each month, set aside a specific amount of money to spend on books, whether it’s in cash or a separate bank account.
- Order a book every time you make an Amazon order. If you don’t have Amazon Prime, adding a book to your order is a great way to makes sure you meet the free shipping threshold!
- Keep a list of books you want to own. Then when they show up at a thrift store, garage sale, school library sale or on Amazon, you know to grab them. And if you have people ask for title suggestions for gifts, you are ready to go!
If you have other suggestions for how to buy cheap books, get free books or build your home library on a budget, please leave them in the comments!
You might also find these posts helpful:
- Where I find great book recommendations for my children
- 6 simple ways for dads to encourage a love of reading
- How to find good books at your local library
Photos by Christie Knight Photography