Book Swaps- The Perfect Way to Save Money on Books

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Me and books- we're bosom buddies. I've been a bookworm for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories involve trips to the library to check out books to read. The librarians and I became good friends, as they got to know me and my taste in books, and would recommend books for me that they thought I would love. When I finished devouring all the books they had by my latest favorite author, I waited patiently while they made inter-library loans so that I could get my hands on the rest of the coveted books.
I volunteered at the library when I was a teenager, because I felt so comfortable working with books.
I always found nothing more pleasurable than curling up with a good book. Riveting novels would keep me up until the wee hours of the morning, as I'd turn the pages, eagerly anticipating the next twist in the story, and unable to shut my eyes until I was able to see how the story resolved.
I could easily finish a 1000 page book over one weekend, and sometimes even in one day!

Imagine my dismay, then, when I moved to this country and discovered that public libraries don't exist, that you have to pay to become a member of the library, and when you did, there was no orderly filing system whereby you could find your favorite author, and there absolutely was no such thing as inter-library loans. What you see is what you get.
And unfortunately, the English language sections of the library tend to be minuscule.

Though I never spent money on books beforehand (unless you count fines for overdue library books, or gift cards to Barnes and Noble that I won as prizes in the science fair), when I moved to this country, I wasn't prepared to just stop reading... and so I started buying my own books.

There are two second hand book stores that I know of in my area with a large selection of English books. And even though they are second hand, the books there generally are not so cheap. 10-15 dollars per book, usually. Yes, used books. And if there was a book that the store wanted to get rid of, you could have it for a bargain price of $1.50-$3.00.
My book habit suffered.
Instead of devouring more and more and more books, I tended to read and reread and reread some more the books that I already have. Which killed the sense of adventure that I used to have reading books, because the sense of suspense is gone when you've read the story so many times that you know already what happens next...

To fill my nearly insatiable need to read, I borrow books from friends. But I've read most of the books my friends have, and some are reluctant to lend out books (which, quite frankly, I understand- kids can ruin books quickly, even ones that you've been careful with).

A few days ago, I went to a book swap for the first time.
I wrote before about clothing swaps, and book swaps work the same way.

You bring any books you no longer want. Everyone else does the same.

You lay out the books. At the swap I attended, books were divided fiction and non fiction.

You take whatever books interest you, and others do the same. (And you try to be grown up and mature about it and not fight over the same book.)

You go home with a whole bunch of books that were completely free of charge!

Isn't that awesome?

I brought a backpack worth of books to the swap, books that I wasn't particularly interested in (anymore), but had anyhow because I bought them second hand...
And I came home with even more books than I brought!

19 in total!

1 non fiction about how to build a better website ("Creating a Website" is its name), which hopefully will help me improve this site.
2 kids' books.
And a whoooooooole whoooooooole bunch of non fiction books for me to sink my teeth into.
Two of them I read already but wanted to own, because I liked them so much. (Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingslover and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.)
A few of them, I'd heard of before, or read and liked other books by the author (one by Janet Evanovich, one by David Baldacci, one by Orson Scott Card, one by Robert Ludlum, Dune, something by Anne Rice, and My Antonia).
And the rest...
Well, I read the blurb at the back/on the inside cover, and said "Hey, why not, they're free!"

And if I don't like them...
There's always the next swap that I can bring them two.

Barter is awesome.
Swaps are awesome.
Consider arranging your own book swap so that you, too, can benefit from something like this.
Who doesn't like free books?

Are you a book reader? Where do you typically get your books from? Do you usually buy, borrow, or download?
Ever been to a swap before, either clothes swap or book swap? Does a book swap seem up your alley?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. I can sympathize with the frustrated reader in you! I'm also a bookworm, and I remember when I was first on my own and living with my boyfriend with no money for anything extra, and he came home from his job at a bookstore with a box of coverless books. They send the covers back and the books are supposed to be destroyed, but he managed to sneak these ones away, and I was thrilled! There were no blurbs (since there were no covers), and the selection was..."eclectic" would put it mildly. But I was just so happy to be able to lose myself in books again that I didn't care!

    Now I have many books to read as I've inherited part of my parents' HUGE book collection, and they are not all easy reads, by any stretch. They'll keep me going for awhile!

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