I recently splurged on more than a dozen children’s books for my daughter Lucy, who loves to flip to the final page and grab another book.
My total? $10.50, less than $1 per book.
I found a trove of children’s books at a bookstore operated by my local library, which is constantly under pressure to make room for new books.
The old books get shuffled downstairs and sold for $.50 or $1 each. In truth, some of those “old” books were barely touched.
Why buy brand new books when you can get gently used copies for 50-90% off?
Here are 14 places to find great deals on children’s books, used and new.
Public library annual sale.
Most local libraries have annual or semi-annual book sales with prices that can’t be beat. Bring change and be prepared to see some incredible deals. I’ve seen libraries sell an entire bag of books for $1 on the final day of the sale.
Have you ever been to Portland, OR? Then you’ve probably heard of Powell’s, which has over one million books in its flagship store on Burnside Street in downtown Portland.
What’s almost more impressive is that every single book is also for sale online. Powells.com has a tab dedicated to used books, or you can specify second hand reads in a dropdown menu off the main search box.
I found a used paperback copy of Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak for $2.50 and shipping is a flat $4 no matter how many books you buy, or free with a purchase of $50 or more.
Check out Swap.com to find a swap near you. Not only are there book swaps, but there are also clothing swaps, food swaps, and even beauty swaps.
If you’re new to swapping, here’s how to get the most out of a swap, while not breaking any tacit rules of the swap community.
If your town has a local recycling center, check to see if there’s a section for books.
In my California hometown, there were stacks and stacks of books waiting to be recycled that were free for the picking!
Just like your public library, school libraries often cull their shelves annually to make room for newbies.
Call and ask if they have a mailing list to get the first word about sales.
Book sale search engines.
I like BookSaleManager.com and BookSaleFinder.com, both of which share listings of book sales across the country.
The sites are free to use and easy to navigate geographically.
You’ve probably overlooked shelves of super duper cheap books at Salvation Army, Goodwill, and just about every other thrift store.
Expect to find plenty of books for $.25 each.
Friends of library bookstore.
Whether or not your public library has book sales, you may find a smaller year round store operated by volunteers who want to support the library.
Don’t be turned off by size, however. Their shelves are constantly restocked by titles booted out of the main library.
Consignment sales and stores.
Turn to semi-annual children’s consignment sales and brick-and-mortar children’s consignment stores for books.
If you haven’t been to the sale or store before, call ahead to ask about book selection. It can vary widely depending on what sellers have dropped off.
Find a sale near you at ConsignmentMommies.com.
Got a friend or relative with kids older than yours? Why not ask if they have any children’s books they’d like to unload?
Make it easy on them and offer to brave their musty attic yourself to sift through old titles. Don’t forget to bring your own bags, too.
Look for garage sales in your local newspaper and on Craigslist that specifically mention children’s items and books.
Swing by and offer to pay a dime a title, or a little more for books in excellent condition, hardbacks, or special titles.
Did you know the site has more used children’s books for sale than new.
Thanks to third party sellers, you can often find a deal on new titles, like Emeraldalicious (of Pinkalicious fame and just released last month) for $7.01, which retails for $17.99.
Use the options in the left column to narrow your search.
The auction giant has more than 758,000 children and young adult books for sale. And 355,000 of those are listed for less than $10.
Just pay attention to seller rankings and feedback to make sure you are getting what you think you are paying for.
How could I forget the obvious? Type your zip code plus “used bookstore” into Google to find options near you.
Call ahead to see how many children’s titles they have, as selection can vary widely.
Julia Scott founded the freebie and coupon blog, BargainBabe.com.