Wednesday, July 20, 2011

10 Tips to Saving Money on Books

1. Invest in an E-reader Digital book sales are starting to make a high rise among the masses. If you're anything like me, you find sheer pleasure in curling in bed and holding a softcover book in your hand. Despite skepticism from die-hard eBook critics, I've actually found my Kindle makes it easier to curl into bed with that story and it's just as homey. Right now Christian Fiction e-books are selling for prices as low as $10--almost $4 less than the average softcover. While e-readers are high-priced, if you're constantly buying books it will pay for itself within several purchases. The best deal I ever received was when I paid $11 for Ted Dekker's The Bride Collector, which sold for $27 in hard-back (as a newer title, hardback was the only option). 
      Plus, Christian publishers are more generous in offering some great freebie titles on an almost weekly basis! I've been a proud Kindle owner for almost nine months now, racking up 153 fiction items on my device. Out of those 153 titles, I've only paid for 18 of them. The books I did paid for have never cost more than $11.00. I usually paid $3, $6, and even $7 for them (I bought David Platt's Radical for $1 in a limited deal). Almost all e-reader stores have some kind of freebie titles they offer regularly for their devices. Some of the best and most popular e-readers to choose from are the Kindle or the Nook. If you'd like to learn about the various e-readers to choose from, here's an article from PCWorld published in December. To learn more about the Kindle or freebies, click here

2. E-reader apps. Not ready to purchase an e-reader yet, but still want the deals? You have several options. Amazon offers their Kindle apps for free! Their apps are compatible with the Blackberry, Android, Iphone/ipod, Windows phone 7, Windows PC, and Mac. Another great option is to use Christian Book Distributors' free CBD Reader, which is also compaptible with your PC, ipad/iphone/ipod touch, or Android. Not only is CBD Reader compatible with your smartphone and PC, but also with various other e-reader devices to help you save on deals the device retailers may not be offering. Another option is to download Adobe Digital Editions onto you desktop and read e-books from there.

3. Mark your calendar! One of the best stores actively promoting Christian fiction is LifeWay. Twice a year they hold special Fiction Days filled with great titles for $5 bargains, 25% off coupons, and lower prices on newest titles. You'll find some awesome bargains! They usually host the Fiction Days sometime in October and May. A great way to stay updated on their events is to subscribe to their LifeWay Fiction Community blog. They will keep you apprised on newest releases and fiction sales. You can even print coupons from their blog!  

4. Subscriptions. Remember the days when you would receive circulars in the mail? Am I the only one who found the endless subscriptions more of a hassle than a deal saver? While you can still subscribe to retailer circulars, these days you have more options than mail coupons. Rather than receiving mail from your favorite retailer, go to their website and subscribe to their e-newsletters and updates. You'll find some great savings in these newsletters. If you ever want to stop receiving the updates all you have to do is unsubscribe--it's as simple as that! Don't want to wade through tons of emails to receive coupons and deals? Then check out the website DealNews allows you to create a profile and select certain stores to add to it. When those stores offer deals or coupons, they'll alert you. If you don't want your inbox crowded with endless alerts, you can have it sent as an RSS feed instead. Also, don't forget about your Facebook and Twitter options. Following your favorite or most frequented retailer through social media is a great way to learn about new deals. 

5. Bookswaps  Book-swapping is becoming a social trend. While there are some great sites to swap books, such as Bookmooch, I tend to stick with the social networking site Goodreads. Some more book-swapping sites are Paperback Swap, Title Trader, and Read it Swap it.

6. Libraries The greatest way to save money on books is through libraries. If your public library offers a limited selection in Christian fiction titles, you can always request they order the title you're interested in. Most libraries will allow you to do so. 

7. Bargain Books Most retailers have some type of Bargain books on a regular basis. While some stores, like Barnes and Nobles, will display these books in a highly visible area, you may have to search to find them in others. When a store has multiple copies of the same book sold as low as $3.29, usually it means they have too many unsold copies--and they need to get rid of them! The best time to find overstocked books is when publishing companies are about to release their newest titles (usually done seasonally or monthly). The release of new titles forces the store to either re-locate these books somewhere in their store or on someone else's shelf--particularly yours. LifeWay usually displays some of their bargain books in the front, but I recently found a whole bunch of titles (even newer ones) tucked away in the back. Books-A-Million usually does a good job of displaying their bargain books on a long table or even off to the side. 

8. Enter Giveaways While this tip is more of a gamble, it's still an ideal way to save money. Most blogs, authors, and even publishers will offer some type of giveaway. Blogs usually offer giveaways on a weekly or monthly basis. Authors do it frequently, but not as often as blogs. Publishers. . . well, whenever they feel like it. If you subscribe to feeds from your favorite book blogs, then you should receive an update on their giveaways. Shelf Life is currently offering a monthly giveaway. You can also discover a list of giveaways on Goodreads, where you can browse their books by tag. For blog giveaways on Goodreads, you can find a great list here. Some other sites are Free Blog Giveaways, The Giveaway Galley, The Giveaway Corner, and Prizey.

9. Read the First Chapters As people who love books, we know that the first chapter has the power to hook you and determine if you want to buy the book or not. While most retailer websites offer first chapter previews of a book, sometimes they offer precious little to read. If you plan on making a digital purchase or even heading to the store to buy a book, make sure your interest is well invested in the book. Scribd offers lengthy previews of certain books. Definitely set up a profile to see the first chapters. I think it's well worth it. 

10. Book Reviews While this method is the most time consuming, for those who enjoy writing and are experienced enough in what makes a good story, I highly recommend this. For most publishers, you must have a blog with active readers. Some great programs for book reviews are the Waterbrook/Multnomah Blogging for Books, Thomas Nelson's Booksneeze, and Tyndale's Blog Network

So, what tips do you have to save books? I'd love to hear about deals that you've found. 

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