Books are unexpectedly expensive. They've never been something I think of as such, but they are. If you read often, shelling out $20 for each one can create a huge hole in your pocket. As a student, I've found ways to buy my monthly dose of books without breaking the bank.
1. Secondhand Book Stores
I love a secondhand book store. Aside from selling books at half price or less, many of them have a delightful combination of popular and uncommon novels plus they also tend to be quieter than regular bookstores. One of my favourite secondhand book stores in Brisbane City is Archives Fine Books (a list of my favourite book stores in Brisbane is coming soon), because there's such a wide range of books and a quiet old building full of books is my idea of paradise.
If you're a student, make sure to check your university secondhand book store. They change the booklists for creative writing classes fairly often, so sometimes those stores end up with a bunch of books no one needs for class anymore. I've seen novels at my university book store for a dollar or two, so it's definitely worth checking out.
2. Thrift Stores
Technically a secondhand store, yes. But the thing about thrift stores is that people don't generally go there to find books. The cheapest books I've found have been at thrift stores, though. Because of the ease of access to a thrift store (let's be honest people are lazy and less likely to go out of their way to a secondhand book store to donate their books) they tend to have a fairly extensive collection of books complete with popular titles. So few people buy their books at thrift stores that there's enough on hand for Lifeline to host BookFest every year (which you should go to, because you can buy enough books to fuel you for several months and not feel guilty about it). So take a break from digging through the clothes and check out the book section.
3. Garage Sales
This one is as simple as keeping an eye out for any garage sales in your area and checking them out. If you're looking for a more direct approach, apps like Gumtree are great. I'd recommend Gumtree over something like eBay, because you can go check out the books in person and collect them. Just make sure to be safe; I'd recommend taking a friend with you.
4. Good Old Library
Obvious, yes. But if you check out books from a library, you don't have to pay for them. Need I say more? All you need to do is remember to take them back (or get them back from your sister after you lend them to her and she inevitably doesn't give them back). If you're a student, make sure to check out your university library. Some uni libraries have a decent collection of novels, magazines, movies and TV shows (a little birdie told me my uni library has every season of GOT on DVD). This also avoids the issue of buying a book, reading it and then not liking it that much. Speaking of...
5. Sell Your Old Books
No, this isn't a place to buy books on a budget. But, if you sell your old books (you know those ones I was talking about before that didn't end up being that good) then you have more money to spend on new books. So here's how to sell them:
Some secondhand book stores will give you money for books
While thrift stores are obviously based on donations, some secondhand book stores will give you a small amount of money for your books. It depends on condition, popularity and other factors, but it's worth a try. Next time you're in store, ask if they pay money for old books.
Uni secondhand book store
This one depends on booklists, but it's fairly easy to join a creative writing faculty group for your uni on Facebook and find out what the current readings are. If you have any of the novels students currently need to read, you can most likely sell it to your university's secondhand book store.
If you don't want to put in the effort of the above, a garage sale is a great option. Either a physical old-school one, or through apps like gumtree. Like I said before, just make sure to be safe. You're inviting people into your house either way.