14 Places to Buy Cheap Books Online to Meet Your Reading Goals
Did you vow to to read more books in 2022, possibly shamed into it by all those people on social media claiming to have read a book a week in 2021?
Book lovers, you can always save your dollars by using your local library and apps like Libby, but there’s something satisfying about having a full bookshelf, even if that bookshelf of new and used books is digital. And if you can find cheap new books, so much the better.
You probably already know how to get physical books on Amazon and eBay, but there are several online book retailers where you can get great deals on books and maybe get rewarded in the process.
Whether you prefer physical books, e-books or a mix of both, you can use these websites to expand your library without hurting your wallet.
Deals on Physical Books
Do you prefer the feel of a book in your hands but still want to find cheap books online? We’ve rounded up eight of the best online bookstores for new and used books. No doubt you’ll find plenty of classic books and bestsellers at competitive prices, plus kids’ books.
Thriftbooks is an online book retailer that sells used, new and collectible books. Books are priced based on condition, ranging from new to acceptable, and whether they are paperback or hardcover. No doubt, you will find cheap books here.
Using their ReadingRewards program, you can earn points for every dollar you spend. Once you’ve accumulated enough points, you can redeem them for a free book.
The rewards program has three levels.
- Reader: Earn 8 points per dollar and get a free book up to $5 at 500 points.
- Bookworm: Spend $75 in a year for the second tier. Earn 9 points per dollar and get a free $6 book at 500 points.
- Literati: Spend $150 in a year and you’ll get 10 points per dollar and a free $7 book at 500 points.
You’ll get 100 points for signing up and more bonus points on your birthday, another advantage of buying cheap books online.
Besides finding cheap books online, you can also score movies, CDs and videogames on Thriftbooks. Video game purchases can get you up to 300 points per game. Shipping is $1.29 total or free with a $15 purchase.
The downside is that Thriftbooks gets all their used books in bulk from thrift stores and libraries, so it’s hard to know when a book you want could be in stock. You can create a Wish List and they will email you when the book is available.
Thriftbooks is also available as an app.
AbeBooks is an online marketplace that offers new and used books plus collectible books in various conditions. Rather than selling the books themselves, AbeBooks gives independent sellers a platform to sell their finds. With AbeBooks, you even have the option of purchasing first editions or signed copies. Shipping prices and methods are determined by the individual sellers.
You can also find art, old magazines, sheet music, textbooks and manuscripts at AbeBooks.
Half Price Books
Half Price Books might be more familiar as a brick and mortar store, but you can also buy books from them online. The bookseller uses a six tier range for determining the condition of their used books, from “Like New” to “Poor.”
Half Price Books charges per item on shipping. In general, standard shipping per item is $3.99. You can also find music and movies for sale on their website. The chain has 127 thrift books stores in 17 states.
Powell’s Books is one of the nation’s most legendary independent booksellers. Based in Portland, Oregon, Powell’s sells new and books online. Its rare books section includes out-of-print books. Powell’s huge selection of books is said to number 1 million.
Having trouble deciding what book you want? Check out their Staff Pick lists, like Books of the Month or 50 Books for 50 Years.
If you prefer audiobooks, Powell’s sells them through Libro.fm, a free app.
Shipping is a flat fee of $3.99 per order if you choose No Rush Economy Mail. Items ship free if the order is $50 or more.
If you need to make room on your bookshelf and your books meet their condition requirements, you can also sell your books to Powell’s online. The beauty of Powell’s is that it has a brick-and-mortar facility plus it’s a virtual independent bookstore.
SecondSale.com is an online used bookstore run out of a warehouse in Illinois. If you check out their Super Bargain Books section, you can find books for as low as $2.99. They’ll also buy your used books through their other website. Conditions of their books are rated in a five tier system, from “Like New” to “Acceptable.”
The website also offers fun tidbits about the books as you browse, like what order to read a series in, how long it could take you to read all the books, reading level or number of pages.
Offers free standard shipping on orders over $10.
If you’re a reader who likes to move on to new books instead of re-reading, try BookMooch. After you create an account, you can enter the books you’d like to get rid of and other people will send you a request for them.
When you mail your books, you’ll receive points. You spend those points by requesting books from other people. All you’ll pay for the service is the cost of shipping your books.
BookMooch operates all over the world, so you might get requests for your books from other countries. You’ll receive one point each time you send or receive a book inside your country, or three points for sending and receiving books internationally.
To use BookMooch, you’ll have to give more than you receive. You have to send out two books for every book you get from the service, even if you have enough points to request books. Sending a book internationally counts as three books.
Like this idea but don’t want to pay for shipping? Get some friends together and host a book swap!
Better World Books
Better World Books is an online bookseller with a focus on giving back. Every time you purchase a book, they donate a book to someone in need. You can find new and used books as well as textbooks on their website.
Better World Books also has a three-tiered rewards program.
- Bronze: Earn 8 points per dollar spent.
- Silver: You 9 points per dollar and exclusive offers.
- Gold: Earn 10 points per dollar, more exclusive offers and extra ways to earn points.
You can earn bonus points by following their social media channels. After you reach certain point totals, you can redeem those points for dollars off your purchase.
Another great perk? There’s no minimum purchase required for free standard shipping.
Book Outlet is an online retailer that promises “read-iculously low prices.” They get their products directly from publishers’ excess inventory so they can sell new books to customers for as much as 90% off list price. Browse their clearance and “under $5” sections for books as low as $1.19.
When you create an account with Book Outlet, you’ll automatically be enrolled in Book Outlet Rewards to get even more discounts. You’ll get 10 points just for signing up and subscribing to their email list will get you 20 points.
You can also earn points by following their social media channels and taking one quiz each month. Every $2 you spend gets you one point. Accumulate 100 points and you get $5 off, or save up as much as 2,00 points to get $100 off your order.
As well as children’s books, Book Outlet sells puzzles, activity kits, coloring books and more.
Shipping is free after $35. Orders under $35 have a $5 shipping charge.
Deals on E-books & Audiobooks
Do you prefer the convenience of having your library in your hand and want to be able to download new and used books at 3 a.m.? Check out these eight websites that let you save money on reading material without having to worry about where to store all those books.
If you’re interested in antiquarian books in the public domain, check out Project Gutenberg. Founded in 1971, it’s the world’s oldest digital library.
Project Gutenberg is a volunteer-run online library of over 6,000 e-books of carefully curated collections. The e-books available can be read on a web browser or any e-book reader that you might have. The service is free to use, but you can send them a tax-deductible donation to help keep the volunteer effort going. This is certainly a cool way to lessen your eco footprint.
Want to introduce a young reader to the classics completely free? Project Gutenberg also has books for kids.
BookBub is a free service that finds e-book deals for you. The website curates thousands of discounted e-books available on Kindle, Kobo, Nook, Apple Books and Google Books.
Simply create an account and answer some questions, like what e-book service you use and what genres you read. BookBub will tailor its recommendations based on your answers. You can also follow specific authors to get notified when they have a new release or a sale on a book or just peruse the great titles.
If a book you want isn’t on sale right now, you can add it to your Wishlist and Bookbub will notify you when there’s a discounted deal on it.
Want to give audiobooks a try? The folks at Bookbub also run Chirp, a service where you can score deals on audiobooks and then listen to them with the Chirp app.
Amazon has several options when it comes to e-book deals.
If you have a Prime membership, you can borrow books from the Prime Reading service. The Prime Reading library has over 2,500 titles and you can borrow up to 10 books at a time. The selection is frequently updated and includes new books, classic literature, children’s books, comic books, magazines and more.
Amazon also offers Amazon First Reads, where Prime members can select one book each month from a list of six options. The books selected are all pre-releases, so you’ll get a chance to read it before anyone else.
If those two services aren’t enough, you can always sign up for Kindle Unlimited for $9.99 per month and get access to more than 1 million titles in the Kindle library.
Have Prime but don’t have a Kindle? Just download the Kindle app on your phone to read those new books or use the Kindle Cloud Reader feature to read them on your desktop.
Scribd is a subscription service that gives you access to over a million e-books and magazines, thousands of audiobooks and podcasts and more. It’s $9.99 per month after a 30-day free trial.
If you like to read summaries of nonfiction books before you invest time in them, you’ll like the Scribd Snapshots feature. Snapshots are available in both audio and written formats and give you short previews of books to help you decide if you’d like to read them. Scribd compares them to movie trailers rather than summaries.
The service also offers Scribd Originals, which are ebooks and audiobooks that you won’t find anywhere else. There’s no limit to the books you can read or listen to each month, but some items may not be available until your subscription renews the next month.
You can download their app on an Android or IOS device or listen on your computer through their website.
Google Play Books
If your smartphone carries the Google Play Store, you can download the separate Google Play Books app. There you’ll find e-books, audiobooks and comics.
Google Play Books’ selection includes best sellers, deals under $5 and free books so there’s something for every wallet — even an empty one! You can also select what book genres you prefer to tailor your recommendations.
If you join Google Play Points, the books you purchase count toward your point total. After you accumulate so many points, you can redeem them on Google Play Credits.
If you’re Team iPhone, you can download ebooks and audiobooks on Apple Books. Like Google, Apple Books offers best sellers, deals and free selections and personalized recommendations based on your reading preferences. Deals include books for $4 or less or audiobooks for $6 or less.
The audiobooks you buy will be available to listen on any of your Apple devices, including an Apple Watch.
Contributor Jenna Limbach writes on financial literacy and lifestyle topics for The Penny Hoarder from her home base in Utah.