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. Okay, make that a lot of books. You would never part with some of your books, 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 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 to unload old books and find those on your “to-read” list for cheap. 


If you like the idea of a fair exchange, try a free membership to U.S. only, PaperbackSwap.com. This is a Book Club that helps avid readers share their books online by exchanging books they have for books they want. Not limited to paperbacks (you can list and swap hardbacks, audiobooks, and textbooks), you receive two free book credits once you post 10 books you want to part with. Search the site for the books you want, send in your request, and the owner will ship the books directly to you. See PaperbackSwap.com. for more details and information.

Check out BookMooch.com if you can’t find the books you want at Paperback Swap. This site is international, and works on a point system–you get 1/10 of a point for each book you add to your inventory. “Mooching” (requesting) a book costs one point for books from your country, two points for international mooches. Sending a book gains you one point for domestic mooches, and three points for international. Gives you the ability to create a wishlist of books you want, and the site emails you when a book on your wishlist is available (first to get to the book gets it). The site is free. Points are awarded when the mooch is made.


Decluttr buys books, too. Decluttr is the easiest way to make quick cash for your highly desirable used books. The site accepts hardbacks, paperbacks, used textbooks, and children’s books. Know going in that Declutter buys books that have a high degree of desirability and they offer a price that will allow them to re-sell them for a profit. It’s certainly worth checking out.

EC readers report good experiences with Decluttr. 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.

Check BookScouter, where more than 30 used book vendors will compete to buy your books. Just input the ISBN number (either a 10- or 13-digit number on the book itself) to find out which book buyer is interested in what you have and is willing to pay the highest price.

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, 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. 

I am seriously considering a little catch-and-release action because I think it might be fun to watch a copy of my pride and joy, Debt-Proof Living, travel the world.

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.

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  1. Christine Coffin says:

    I donate my books to our local library. Our Friends of the Library group sells them to raise funds for the library. If the library doesn’t have a book I am interested in, I ask my son, the library Director, to order it.

  2. alien07110 says:

    sadly this advice is eight months too late for me. my husband died in march. he had more than a thousand books on subjects that didn’t interest me–sports, entertainment. i had my own books. i had to find new homes for them and fast, because we were moving. i gave one collection to his cousin. i sold one entire bookcase to the local used book store, but she didn’t want any of his other collections. i had a yard sale–advertising free books. very few takers. since i was packing to move, i didn’t have time to go from facility to facility looking to donate books–the library didn’t want them; they only accept books at certain times during the year. finally, in desperation i asked the man at our local recycling if books were recyclable. he said yes. i brought down a car load and dumped them. i went back the next time they were open with another car load–he asked me not to put them in the dumpster–since the walkway is higher than the dumpster, anyone could see in and see what was there. he said people were climbing in the dumpster to get to the books. he showed me an easily accessible place to put them so people wouldn’t get hurt in the dumpster. {{{{{sigh}}}}}

  3. Pat says:

    Abe’s books is a great site to find books cheap. Also the Salvation Army and Goodwill. If you have an Amazon account, you get a free digital book every month. Loyalbooks.com has classic to read or audiobooks for free. Half Price Books is great for used books, if there is one in your area.
    Big fan of the library too. Using your library card and the Libby app, you can download lots of books right to your phone, tablet or computer.

  4. MaryCC says:

    Check out Better World Books (betterworldbooks.com). It’s a non-profit and a great source for used books with great prices and always free shipping! And a percentage of each sale goes to fund literacy and education projects worldwide. You can also donate your books to this organization if you can find a drop box near you.

  5. BeckyP says:

    My husband and I live in an RV and travel the USA full-time. I like to listen to audiobooks while I sew in the camper. I found out that if you have a state of Texas address, you can get a library card from the city of North Richland Hills. Then, this connects you to over 500 libraries in the state of Texas. I have access to all the audiobooks on Libby that I could ever hope to hear. This has been huge for me.

  6. Donna R says:

    Mary, I seldom buy a book, but but I read a lot of them — One source is Bookbub which sends out lists of ebooks and also offers paper and hard backs – You sign up and they send you a daily or a weekly list you can pick from — there are usually a lot of free or 99 cent books – these can be read on an ebook app and don’t take up shelf space. I try to read and review all the free books I get. When my ebook reading app gets too full I either delete some of them or store them online. I think my review list on Amazon is over 600 books – fiction, religion, true crime, paranormal, cookbooks, survival, how to, handwork pattern books, also some of almost any type of books.
    Another source is get added to your favorite authors ARC (Advanced Review Copy) list – you get the book before it is published and read it and leave a review on Amazon, BookBud, or Goodreads etc.

  7. Kim says:

    Like Cally, I’m a fan of ThriftBooks. I have a large…
    well, a really large home library. I’m currently trying to replace older paperback copies of my favorites with hardbacks which I prefer. Some series are fairly old dating, back to the 70s and 80s, and through ThriftBooks I’ve been able to replace a good number of paperbacks which I then donate. Most of the hardbacks that I purchase run under $10…average is about $5 to $7. Paperbacks tend to run about $4. So, if like me you prefer a physical copy of a book, check out ThriftBooks online.

  8. Ann L says:

    I download ebooks from the public library to my Kindle app on my ipad. If I am stuck waiting for an appointment, I can pick it up on my phone which also has the app and knows where I left off. This way I am not adding books to my shelves. Specially handy for reading in bed as my ipad never loses my place when I fall asleep and lots lighter.

  9. Elgie says:

    I love the book exchange shelves on a cruise ship when I’m traveling, it would be great to know where some of them come from and where some I’ve shared have traveled. Great idea

  10. Tina Kuesel says:

    I also recommend signing up for Bookbub. They send you a daily email with discounted and sometimes free book selections, including digital/Nook/Amazon books, based on your subject preferences. www.bookbub.com

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