11 Places to Get Cheap Books (to Fill Your Shelves)

by | Oct 24, 2023

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Going for that maximalist aesthetic that everyone is talking about? Or maybe you’re like me and find it super cozy to be surrounded by books. Either way, I rounded up some of my tried and true places to get cheap books to stock your bookshelves on a budget.

As someone building out my own home library I’ve been recently turning to these tips myself in the pursuit of books to line the shelves. My goal is to have several filled bookshelves!

Fair warning: you probably shouldn’t use these tips if you plan to move soon. If you’ve ever packed up a tonne of books to move (like I have) you already know how much of a pain it is… Or just hire some movers, problem solved.

Anyway, here are my go to places to get cheap books for decorating or to enjoy.

Have too many books or some you don’t want? Here’s where you can donate your used books too!

Bookshelves in the library. Large bookcase with lots of books. Sofa in the room for reading books. Library or shop with bookcases. Cozy book background.

Local Library Book Sale

This is my go to because my local library operates on donation, meaning I can clear a few books off their hands and pay whatever I feel is right for them. Since I used to work there I’m super close with the staff so it’s a win-win for everyone.

Yours will likely be different but regardless of how it’s operated you can feel good about where your money’s going.

Charity Book Sales

Speaking of, I think this one holds it’s own spot for both feel good and ways to stock up on books for cheap. A lot of places do large-scale books sales where all the proceeds go to charity. Here’s it’s our local children’s hospital that collects books over months and sets them up for a two day massive sale.

Some might even give you a tax receipt!

Yard Sales

Another one of my favourite places to get used books for cheap, yard sales and garage sales are often treasure troves of gently used books people desperately want to get rid of. Of course, not everyone prices their books fairly (some ask way too much) but you can definitely luck out and find some gems.

This is a good one for people who like me who enjoy searching for all kinds of treasures and find yard sales exciting.

Estate Sales

Oh boy, I know it’s far down the list but this is one of the best ways to get books for cheap. Estate sales come in three versions. First, the auction; you can go and bid on items, often including books. Second is the online auction, which is pretty much the same but way easier. Third, the regular old sale. This might be online or in-person like a garage sale.

What makes estate sales unique is that they’re often moving a large amount of items. This usually means that books will be sold in lots (convenient) and for really good deals.

Freecycle/Giveaway Weekend

Can’t beat free! Do you have one of these organizations in your area? If you’re not sure definitely look into that! They’re awesome.

Anyway, the pickings will be slimmer here but I’ve found a few diamonds in the rough over the years. Plus it’s fun to get stuff – especially on the giveaway weekends.

Facebook Marketplace (or Other Online Marketplaces)

I often see people selling “lots” of books on here for affordable prices. Like yard sales, people often over value their stuff – but I also sometimes stumble on deals too. It’s also good if you’re looking for a newer book you want to read but don’t want to pay full price. Often people read and then sell!

A vertical shot of a vintage room with bookshelves and orange armchairs

Thrift Stores

The prices of books varies wildly from store to store. Value Village/Savers often has some of the worst pricing, but if you’re looking for kids’ books it’s not a bad deal – and it can also be a place where you get newer books in good condition.

Smaller thrift stores are the better deal. They’re often overrun with books so they keep prices low. Some places might even let you work out a deal to take a large amount off their hands.

Another option here is to volunteer at these places. Often volunteers get perks like first dibs on stuff, discounts, or even free items in exchange for their time.

Family and Friends

Don’t underestimate the power of letting people know you want something. Not everyone is interested in stocking a pile of books in their home. In fact, lots of folks are trying to pare down their stuff!

This is especially true of older relatives (like grandparents) or people who are planning to move soon.

Let everyone in your circle know that you’re trying to fill up your bookshelves and you’ll be amazed how much comes trickling in.

Antique Stores

A lot of people think antique stores are expensive but they can actually be quite affordable, especially when it comes to books. Yes, collectible books might not be that cheap, but most antique stores also have a collection of older mass produced ones they’re dying to get off their shelves.

Most are also open to negotiation so work out a bulk deal in your favour.

Used Book Stores

The sister to antique stores, used book stores also keep a rotating inventory of books. These places are usually a bit more pricey than “mass market” books at an antique store or thrift stores, but not always.

The bonus here is that they often have a better cataloguing system so you can search out the books you actually want to read and pick them up at a discount compared to new.

New Books on Sale

There are book outlet places but I don’t actually find I get the best deals there. Instead, try promo stacking at your favourite bookstore or waiting for sales. While this isn’t the most cost effective way to stock a lot of books it’s a good trick when you want something specific.

I have used all these places at some point or another to get cheap books in small or large quantities to fill up my bookshelves. Part of what I love about doing this is the hunt to find all the books. I like to collect them from all over so each one has their own story. Because it’s not just about having stuff – it’s enjoying it too.

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Everett Franchuk

Everett Franchuk

Everett loves to plan parties and events, decorate, and make crafts/DIY projects. As a parent of 5 in his early 30s, he decided to start The Best Nest to offer practical tips and ideas.

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