Friday, November 1, 2013

Buying Books without Breaking the Bank

Jay's bookshelves. Please excuse their state--Jay cares nothing for organization, and I'm just happy to have them put away.

I promise I will post a book review soon. But, first, I wanted to talk a little bit about building a child's library without breaking the bank. Walk into Barnes & Noble, and it's easy to think that you need to have a whole lot of money to have bookshelves that are as packed as ours. That's not true at all. As a matter of fact, the only time I buy books at full price are for gifts--for my kids, and especially for other people's kids. So, how can you afford a brimming bookcase?

Used Bookstores:
Used bookstores are awesome for children's books. We have a local chain called The Used Book Superstore. It lives up to the name. They take over locations where failed big box stores were. Our favorite one was once a CompUSA, for an idea of scale. Most books there were donations, and the profit goes to charity. Pretty much all of the children's books are priced under $3.99, with the vast majority at the $1.29 price point. But, here's the great part--each month, different colored tags receive different discounts. Two colors will be full-price, one 20% off, one 40% off, and one 60% off. If you find titles you want with the magical 60% color, you can walk away with a $0.52 book. That's awesome. But, even $2.99 for a good hardcover isn't bad.

Garage Sales:
We are avid yard/garage salers. At this point, we pretty much only look for books--for ourselves and the kids. (Although Jay went through a huge puzzle phase this summer, and those were also awesome to buy at yard sales, for 25 or 50 cents a piece.) At yard sales, we often pick up kids' books for 25 or 50 cents. These books usually have only had one home, so they are often in good condition. We always check for "artwork" done by a previous owner--no one wants a scribbled-upon book, even for a quarter.

Also, don't forget your local library. We go twice a week--once for Jay's story time, and once for Kay's. We have taken out some real gems--books so good that we take them out over and over again, until I finally feel guilty that other kids are not having the chance to read them, so I finally buy them (often as gifts for birthdays and holidays). Use your library. And use your librarian--they are treasures, full of great recommendations. I cannot say enough wonderful things about our children's room librarians--they are three of my favorite people in my community.

To keep myself organized, I have an awesome app called Journals on my phone. I keep my running "want list" of children's books there, so I can access it anywhere. These include books I have read great reviews of, books recommended by friends, books Jay has loved in his preschool classroom, and books my kids have loved from the library. Of course, I am always apt to buy off-list when I find a great book that strikes my fancy...and that happens far more than I like to admit.

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