Friday, 18 May 2012

Books for less

I've got a weakness for books. I've lost count of the number of bookcases in this house and haven't a clue how many books there might be. Books are doubled stacked, put in wardrobes and in untidy piles by beds. Sadly, books cost money. I can ignore the latest in clothes, fairly obvious if you know me but ignoring a book that sounds interesting; that is much more difficult.

These are some ways that we save on books. They don't necessarily reduce numbers but do reduce cost-a bit.

  • public libraries are particularly good for picture books for children. Our local library doesn't have them in any sort of order so finding a book is a rather random process. Having said that, each child is allowed 15 books so there is space to try new books and most picture books are short enough to have a scan through at the library. Other good finds have been short chapter books, Tintin and Asterix, books about countries, art and history and the odd cookery book. Beware of DVDs- there usually aren't fines on children's books or CDs but there are on DVDs and the borrowing period can be shorter. Don't forget that the catalogue can be accessed on line.
  • Other libraries-we use a home school library and this has proved particularly helpful for Five in a Row resources not available from the Public Library. When I was a child, there was a Sunday School library which provided me with a different book each week.
  • Friends and family-yes, we borrow and lend out. Don't forget to write your name in your books. My Grandparents, from whom I must have inherited the book gene, used to keep a little notebook to keep track of who had their books-sensible idea. On a sadder note, I have had some wonderful books from when my Grandparents' home was cleared out-lovely hymn books and biographies and more recently, a pile of books from a aunt.
  • Read what you already have. Books have fashions like anything else and it is tempting to buy the latest when there is something unread and maybe similar on the shelf. Old can often be better. At present, we are reading "Black Beauty" in a home education book club. I had forgotten what a great book it is. The copy that I'm reading aloud to my daughter is 97 years old and belonged to her Great-grandmother. Isn't that special?
  • Second hand sales. There are some amazing book bargains to be had. We still use some, now, rather battered copies of Shirley Hughes' Alfie that I brought at a jumble sale 16 years ago. Don't forget library sales. Some of the books in library sales can be a bit battered but there are gems. I have brought a handbook of European mammals and a large book on Lutyens buildings for a few pence.
  • Second hand shops and charity shops. The bargains are not quite as good as those to be found in jumble sales, after all, the owners have to make a living or the charity has to make money, but there are still major savings to be made. I have done well with picture books in virtually new condition, from charity shops.
  • E-books. Many classics can be found for free as e-books. Like many people, I'm not  completely sure about e-books. They do seem to destroy the community of books; that buying of books and lending out to friends but still they do serve a purpose. There is a free Kindle programme for laptops that I've used quite successfully. The Moneysaving expert has a list of some free e-books and for home educators there is also the Freebie of the Day site.
  • Bookstart gives a book pack to babies and another to preschoolers. I'm fairly certain that there was another pack but this seems to have disappeared from the website. If your child doesn't go to nursery/preschool then the preschool pack can be obtained from the health visitors. I had to make a couple of phone calls to get our pack and pick it up. Similarly, Booktime provides packs for reception age children. Parents of home educated children can obtain the pack for appropriately aged children through this link.
  • Audio books can be downloaded for free from LibriVox.
Happy reading!


  1. Thanks for the Bookstart request link. I didn't know they got another pack at reception age so I'll request one for Aaron soon.

  2. Yes, books can be difficult to find. Second hand sales are great sources, especially those in church basements.

    Gutenberg, the Baldwin Project, and others are full of the most wonderful old books. I just found a listing of great old authors and titles ( and I'm sure most of them are available free online. This will form the basis of our summer reading list, I think, although after reading L'Abri out loud we're also going to do a lot more Schaeffer reading.

    I've contacted the publisher with your question about the Wambu books, and have also pointed out to them that it is difficult for you to find these books in the UK. I will get back to you with an answer as soon as possible.

  3. Annie Kate, thank you for the link. I've just had a look and there is enough to keep us reading for a long time! Thank you, too, for contacting the publisher about the Wambu books.

    1. Sarah, the publisher says that the best way for you in the UK to get the Wambu books is to order directly from them. Also, there are currently no plans to sell them as e-books.

    2. Thank you for investigating.