Books

Got an expensive reading habit? Here’s where to find cheap books

Love buying books but can’t afford your reading habit? Or are you looking to shop more sustainably? Here are some great places to pick up cheap books.

Honestly, I feel like reading books and buying books are two separate hobbies. Who can’t resist the temptation of a sexy book cover, or a riveting blurb? But I’m sure you’ve felt the same drastic change in the weight of your wallet post-book binge. Finding cheap books can be a challenge.

Trust me, we get it. To solve this problem, we’ve collected a list of a bunch of bookstores that won’t break the bank. Depending on what you prefer, or what your current circumstances are (for my fellow lockdown buddies, we’ll get through this!), we’ve collected a mix of online and in-store options. If you’re on the hunt for cheap books, look no further.

bookshops
Elizabeth’s Bookshop, “Blind Date with a Book” (Photo: Reddit)

Alibris

Alibris is an online marketplace that specifically sells second-hand novels and if you’re keen on securing first-editions or rare copies, they’re known to have a wide collection of those as well. They also sell textbooks, movies and records. Another awesome feature is that you can also register to sell your own items too. Check them out here.

BookDepository, AbeBooks, Booktopia

Book Depository, AbeBooks and Booktopia your classic online bookstores — they’re stocked with almost any title you’d be after, especially in between the library of the three e-shops. Because they don’t sell used novels, they’re not the most sustainable option on this list, but if you’re after cheap books, all three companies run regular discounts and flash sales on titles. Check out BookDepository, AbeBooks and Booktopia.

Gumtree/Facebook Marketplace

I’ve combined these two in the same paragraph, because both Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace are essentially known for the same thing: selling homewares, furniture, clothes, and more. But if you’re on the hunt for a specific title, it’s very likely that you’d be able to find it in a quick online search on these websites. With hundreds of thousands of users, there’s an incredibly broad selection of titles — so your likelihood of finding a gem is high! Check out Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace.

ThriftBooks

ThriftBooks is a second-hand bookstore that sells used novels, DVDs, CDs, VHS tapes, video games, and audio cassettes. Created in 2003, it’s sold around having sold more than 160 million used and new books since being founded. While the products are cheaper, there’s still shipping charges for international purchases. Check ThriftBooks out here.

Local second-hand bookshops

Say it with me: support local! Like many small local businesses, bookshops have definitely had a hard time during the most recent lockdown. They’re a great option for sourcing second-hand books, and considering they exist in almost every suburb of Sydney — there’s heaps to choose from. Definitely the perfect option if you’re someone who loves wandering through bookstores and holding them in your hands, but don’t want to pay new-book prices, or are looking to shop more sustainably. We’ve listed a couple of local ones down below, check them out in your local area and help support a small business!

Berry Books

I know — regional NSW is a bit of a stretch for ‘local’, but hear me out! Berry Books is an online book store that’s carefully curated by a couple living in Berry, NSW. The best thing is, all the work is done for you! The couple travels around Australia, visiting book fairs and choosing the best books for their site. They have a broad range of titles “with a special interest in Australia History including Military, Aboriginal, Nature, Australiana, True Crime, Art and Biography.”  They’re known to be extremely specific with their categorisation, so it’s worth browsing on their site for any more esoteric titles that you’re on the hunt for! Check Berry Books out here.

DogEared Books

Based in Sydney’s North West, Dogeared books is a quaint, little bookshop located in Pennant Hills. They’re open to book exchanges — though are quite selective to maintain quality control across their offered titles — and specialise in new release and paperbacks. They do have a petite section of old and rare books that is regularly updated on their website. Check out their offerings here. 

Elizabeth’s Bookshop

One of the largest second-hand book retailers in Sydney, Elizabeth’s Bookstore is based in the heart of the Inner West, as well as having three stores in WA. They’ve been operating for 48 years and are a mainstay of the second-hand bookshop space. They’re also the pioneers of the “Blind Date with a Book,” where you can purchase based on a short description written on the front cover. As their website says: “A hand wrapped NEW book, carefully curated from a wide range of popular genres. Tagged with intriguing clues alluding to the mystery title inside. It’s a puzzle, it’s a present!” Check them out here.

Lifeline Bookshops

Run by the Lifeline charity, Lifeline Bookshops stock books in up to 50 categories – including children’s and young adult, popular and literary fiction, memoir and biography, classics, art, history, military, science and nature, travel, music, graphic novels, cookery, gardening, craft, textbooks and study guides. They also stock a range of CDs, vinyl records, and other fun miscellaneous cultural artefacts. They have a bunch of pop-up stores all across Sydney, so get on top of it! Check out Lifeline bookshops here.

Sappho Books, Cafe & Bar (Sappho’s)

Oh, Sappho’s! A mainstay on the bookstore scene in Sydney’s Inner West, it’s probably one of the most charming little bookshops you’ll ever walk into. Located in a classic multi-storey building from around 1880, Sappho’s is home to over 30,000 titles. They also have a cute cafe and bar in the back of the building — the perfect place to wind down and start your new book! See what Sappho’s has to offer, here.

Online reading apps

Another alternative to buying brand new books is online reading apps. They’re generally cheaper than physical books, and are really convenient for reading on the go. But, there are so many reading apps out there and it can be super overwhelming! Luckily, we’ve already published an article that’s done all the research for you — read it here.