Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Finding Books at a Discount

Copyright Elnur  @ Fotolia.com
Let's face it, if you have to buy a lot of extra books to fill out your curriculum, it'll really add up in the end.  Since I prefer a literature approach to history, that means many books get used and referenced at our house.  Over the years I've learned to be choosy about what I actually lay down money for so as to protect our family budget.  I am very much grateful for our lovely library system and for friends who are willing to loan us their books for a while.  But, when I am faced with having to actually purchase a book, I most definitely look for a discount.

It occurred to me as I was making my final orders that I would share what sources I tend to use to find these discounts.  Hopefully, you'll find them helpful. 


First off, you are probably familiar with Amazon and CBD.  They are my go to guys for the books I can't find at the discount sites I visit.  Also, I tend to use them as a reference.  Its a good idea to get a feel for what you're looking for actually costs because you can easily pay more for those items at discount and used books sites if you're not careful.

Currclick is a website I tend to frequent.  Sometimes I need a simple workbook for the kids or an art project for them to attack.  I've had much luck there finding subject specific unit studies such as for elections or Olympics or holiday crafts.  Currclick has lots to choose from, all downloadable and, in my experience, very affordable, sometimes even free. Once in a while I can find a workbook I've been looking for offered for a discount at Currclick.  Its worth a look in my book.

Half.com is probably the website I frequent most often when looking for used and discounted books.  It's an e-bay offshoot so you will need an ebay account to be able to purchase.  The difference with half.com is that the listings aren't auctions.  Rather, its like a large clearance or garage sale.  You find what you want and buy it.  I usually go under the "Books" tab and plug in whatever book I am looking for.  From there a list of that book for sale by different vendors will appear.  Then, I have to decide whether I want to buy a new, like new, or lesser condition of the book.  Honestly, books rarely escape my house looking new.  We do use them, after all.  So, paying more for the new books doesn't usually make sense for us.  Ones in good or acceptable condition are sufficient.  I look for the cheapest price and go from there considering if the condition is good enough for our purposes.

Hint: These sites where you have to choose which copy to purchase is where having a reference of how much the book actually costs new comes in handy.  With half.com you have to look at not only the price of the book, but how much the vendor will charge you for shipping.  Is the price reasonable?  Will you be paying more for that used copy than a new one once you figure in shipping?  Things to consider...  Also, pay attention to the ratings of the vendor and at least take a glance at comments others have left behind.  You don't want to get a deal on a book that you never receive or that wasn't represented correctly.  I tend to stick with the vendors with 100 or more sales (at least) and a satisfactory rating in the upper 90's.  And, don't be surprised if you find something totally "out there" in the price range.  Last year I was looking for a specific art book.  There were about 4 vendors selling the book I wanted and none had it listed for less than $50!!  Really?! It retailed for $12.95.  Needless to say, I didn't buy that particular book from half.com, but I have had much success finding many of our other used books there. (This hint holds for the other sites listed, also.)

Homeschool Library Builder is a site I've only recently become aware of.  Its a great resource for purchasing homeschool related books.  They sell new and used books and the discounts are decent.  I especially like that you can search their database based on curriculum with 6 of the biggies represented.  Plus, you can earn points through the purchases you make and thus earn a discount on future purchases.  I really like that!

Betterworldbooks is another site I tend to visit.  This site sells both new and used books.  Usually BWB is the vendor that you get the books from but occasionally, the book will be sold by someone else through BWB.  Confusing?  Its not really once you see how its set up (very similar to half.com).  They tend to sell library discards and extra stock of new printed books.  Plus, any sales they make helps support literacy and good causes.  Also, I like that they offer free shipping.  Always.

Another similar book site to consider is Alibris.  Alibris sells books, music, and DVD's from independent sellers to you.  They include a money-back guarantee and free shipping is available on certain purchases.  You'll have to look on their "Why Shop Here?" page for more information.  I've purchased a few books through Alibris and don't have any complaints.

Lastly, I'll mention Good Steward Books.  This online store is very similar to CBD but perhaps doesn't have the volume of inventory.  Still, I like their prices and have been eyeing their YWAM biographies listed under their "Homeschool" tab.  If you're looking to find a new book of Christian content, they are well worth a look for shopping.

I am currently awaiting the last few packages to round out our purchases for the new school year which starts for us in August.  I hope these gave you a little help in finding some good deals on any books you're looking for.

-A

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