A woman sitting next to a book shelf

4 Ways to Get More Books for Your Bucks (and Vice Versa)

If you are an avid reader, it’s safe to say you own a few books. OK, make that a lot of books. 

Some of your books you would never part with, but others are currently gathering dust on bookshelves or perhaps even piled on the floor.

A woman sitting next to a book shelf


Since it looks like you will soon have to buy new bookshelves or continue to wade through books just to get to the kitchen, I’ve got an idea. Resolve this New Year to do what some people do with their wardrobes—don’t add anything until you get rid of something. 

Fortunately, the Internet is the perfect place not only to unload old books but also find those on your “to-read” list for cheap. 


If you like the idea of a fair exchange, try a free membership to PaperbackSwap.com. This is a Book Club that helps avid readers share their books online by exchanging books they have for books they want.

Once you post 10 books you want to part with, you receive two free book credits. Just search the site for the books you want, send in your request and the owner will ship the books directly to you. 

If someone requests a book you have posted, you will have to pay to ship (typically $2.66 for USPS Media Mail) but you will also receive another book credit once the requester receives his or her book. 

Book swapping sites are popping up everywhere. Check out BooksFreeSwap.com, BookMooch.com or PaperbackSwap.com if you can’t find the books you want at PaperbackSwap.


If you prefer cold hard cash for your books, Cash4Books.net may buy back your old textbooks, hardbacks, non-fiction, and professional/technical books. They are not, however, interested in your paperback fiction. 

As a seller, you enter the ISBN numbers of your books at the company’s website to find the buy-back prices. You can print out a shipping label to send the books directly to Cash4Books (they even pay the cost of shipping). The company will either send a check or credit your PayPal account within three business days of receiving the books. 

Several EC readers have had good experiences with Cash4Books. I was thrilled to discover they would take a several-year-old college textbook languishing in my home, that other textbook buy-back sites were no longer accepting. Another reader was overjoyed to find she could unload her old homeschool curriculum.

Catch and release 

If you’re curious about the lives of your discarded books once they leave you, you might consider releasing your book “into the wild” as part of the BookCrossings.com project. 

To release a book, register your book on the site, print out a label with a unique ID number and leave the book in a place where you think it might find a new reader. The person who finds the book can visit BookCrossings.com and enter the ID number to find out where the book has traveled and even journal about their experience. 

You can follow the progress of your book as it travels the world! To hunt for a book that has been released in your area, you can find release locations in the “Go Hunting” section of the site. 

Bargain shop

BooksPrice.com is a great comparison site for the frugal book shopper. Just type in your book title, author or ISBN and you’ll get a list of the prices of new and used books on many of the major bargain book sites. 

BooksPrice.com also compares the shipping fees and book conditions so you’ll be sure to get the deal you want. 

With all these resources for book owners, it seems there’s no excuse for the piles of discarded books cluttering my home and office. This year I am determined to re-home some I no longer need or want.

And I’m seriously considering a little catch and release action myself because I think it might be kind of fun to watch a copy of Debt-Proof Living travel the world.

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  1. Dana says:

    I’ve found that homeschoolclassifieds.com is a great website for selling our used curriculum.
    Both children are homeschool graduates now, and we had a lot of items to clear out. Much of our curriculum sold within a week’s time!
    It’s FREE to list a few items and $6 A YEAR to get more credits. I happily paid the $6 to list all my items at once (some with pictures).
    The website offers other homeschool resources as well.

  2. peatwee says:

    Also, make sure you take advantage of what your local library has to offer! I haven’t purchased a book in years because I can find it all at my library for free. They also have a digital library – I can check out books straight to my kindle. Digital books automatically expire when they’re due, so no library fines!

  3. Pragmatist says:

    Thanks, “peatwee”! First use your local library services. This helps support free access in your community by showing interest. Our library even posts the value of the books we check out (or view online), so we realize the $ amount we have saved. When I encounter a book I want to savor at leisure or own to reread or give as a gift, THEN I consider purchasing it.

  4. Jackie says:

    I love the little free libraries in our community and there are quiet a few. Share paperbacks there and have gotten some really great things other than books in them also. I don’t go to paperback swap because of how they handled the change several years ago. I will check out the other free sites that you mentioned and my daughter might like to join some of the pay for sites because she buys really expensive books.

  5. Bookworm says:

    If you’re lucky enough to have a Half Price Books near you, that’s a great place to buy and sell books, CDs, DVDs, and even records and puzzles. Everything they sell is half the retail price, so they pay slightly less for used stuff. (They may only pay in store credit. I use it immediately, so I’m not sure.) You can probably do better online, but the convenience is worth it to me. I take a box full of items, browse while they price it, then use the credit to buy more.

  6. Cally says:

    I use Thriftbooks.com to order what i can’t find locally
    i buy from thrift stores for .50, enjoy them, and then donate to libraries, friends, the senior centers…

  7. Linnea Priest says:

    I donate my books to the gift shop at the local medical center. It is run by volunteers, and they sell them from a cart just outside the door. They wrote me a note to tell me that my books paid for new software for the cancer treatment center. I figure that’s a win-win situation, because patients and their families can find something good to read, which helps pass the time. It is really boring to be in the hospital unless you are so sick that you can’t do anything.

  8. Luisa says:

    I’m another public library fan. I wanted to add that our library helps me get rid of my books. They will take any book I want to donate. Some they will put on their shelves. Others they sell at their book sales to raise money. And the third choice is that they recycle any books that they can’t use at all. They even took some decades-old college textbooks for recycling. They are wonderful!

  9. Grammee says:

    You might also want to visit Little Free Libraries which are completely free places to take or leave a book. Just go to the Little Free Library website and there is a locator map and you can find ones in your area.

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