Tips on buying used books… for less.

My built-ins are dripping in books. My bedside has a stack of color coordinated books. Our guest room is sprinkled with books. The bar cart has a few books on it. Heck, there’s even a book on the back of our toilet.

I love decorating with books. It’s something about their color, title, history, and charm that has me constantly looking for new books to add to our collection. So where do we get all these books to scatter around our home? 

The bad news: books can be very expensive and if you want to use them all around your home, the cost of books (especially hardcover) can break the bank. The good news: we have some tips for you to get the book look…. for a lot less! 
Before we get to the “less” part, let’s clarify the “book look”
 1. Hardcover books are best
 2. The thicker the book, the better 
 3. Ditch the book jacket – removing the book jacket will give you a clean, fresh look.
 4. Look at the color of the book’s spine before you buy it (are you looking for a specific color? Are you trying to avoid a specific color? Make sure you look behind the book jacket before you take her home, sometimes the jacket can deceive you into thinking the spine will match. This is not always the case… be careful, especially if you’re looking for the perfect color palette). I was surprised to find these fun patterns when I removed the jacket… Score! 
5. Check out the title – Personally, I don’t really care what the title on the spine says for my “look”, but you may. I think the random titles offer diversity and interest in my shelf, but maybe you’re looking for a certain type of book and you want your shelf to reflect that. History, Recipes, Biographies… you be the judge!
Now… the “less” part.
1. Do not pay more than $2 for any one book, unless of course you want to read the book…that’s a different story (pun intended). If you’re picking out books to strictly decorate with, two bucks is being generous…. no more! Most of my books were .50 – $1.
2. Check out local estate sales, garage sales, and even thrift shops for old books. I scored this antique housekeeping book at an estate sale for guess how much? Under two bucks!! 
3. Buy in bulk. Sometimes when you buy a whole stack of books at once, you’ll get a deal. Just ask! (Warning: they may look at you like you’re coo-coo crazy, but it’ll be worth it)

4. Stop by your local library and ask if they are selling any of their older books. You’d be surprised… most libraries will say yes! And guess how much they typically charge? Under two bucks! See the trend here? I know you can build your own library without breaking the bank! 
Take your time and be patient when building your library. It’s okay to pick up one book here and one book there for months and months and months until you finally feel like you’re making a dent. Don’t rush the process but enjoy it. Half of the fun is the story you create while visiting new libraries, searching for estate sales, and scouring your neighborhood for the next garage sale. 

  • Diana

    Love this! I’ve just really started collecting books for decorating purposes…a little addicting. I need to be better about checking out garage sales and such. Now I’m even more excited for spring! (Once Christmas is over, of course).

    • Thanks so much Diana! We love book decor too! 🙂

  • Johnny McCarron

    I also think that getting your books at a used bookstore can help you save a lot of money. It seems like a lot of people don’t understand that there other options than the big name stores when it comes to their book purchases. However, you can save a lot of money if you look into the different bookstores available. Do you have any other tips about finding a good book?

    • We completely agree! Buying books at used book stores is a great idea. We also love looking at our local library for books on sale, garage sales, estate sales or even Goodwill! Books can be super expensive so anywhere we can find a deal works for us =)