Everyone who has read The Simple Dollar for long knows that I’m an avid reader. I will read multiple books in a typical week. Because of that, I’m going to use books as an example in the description below, but the entire thing holds true for other types of media – CDs, DVDs, etc. – as well.
In the nearest major city to where I live (Des Moines, Iowa), you’ll find a rather wide array of bookstores, both used bookstores and new bookstores. That’s a very good thing, as it gives me a lot of local buying options for books.
My first instinct when I want a new book, though, is to head to the library. However, sometimes I’ll find a book that I know I’ll re-read several times (like a novel that really connects with me) or a book that I want to annotate in the margins (like a cookbook or a particularly insightful nonfiction book).
In those cases, I’m going to want my own copy of the book.
At any given time, I have a list of 25 or so books that I’d love to own. If I were to stumble across one of these works, I’d be very tempted to buy them. I’ll also sometimes go to the bookstore and just browse for enjoyment.
So, ask yourself this: does it make more sense to browse at a bookstore where the books average $10 apiece or a store where they average $2 apiece?
In other words, if you’re just going to browse, start your browsing at a used bookstore, not a new one. You’re quite likely to find something you’re looking for and you’ll save some real money in the process.
Of course, going to a used bookstore isn’t the perfect solution. If you’re looking for a specific title and nothing else will do, for example, a used bookstore might not be the best place to go. Of course, in those situations, you should use online tools to shop around first.
These same ideas apply to DVDs, CDs, video games, and other forms of media as well. Most cities have used media stores that sell used versions of all of these items.
Beyond buying, many of these stores work in trading as well. If you have some used books, DVDs, CDs, or video games that you’re not using any more, trade them in at your local used media store for credit and replace them with something you’ll actually use.
Most of the time, there’s no reason to pay a lot to fill up your media collection. Shop instead for used options.
(In fact, tomorrow I’ll be discussing a great, convenient way to get a great selection of used media very inexpensively.)
This post is part of a yearlong series called “365 Ways to Live Cheap (Revisited),” in which I’m revisiting the entries from my book “365 Ways to Live Cheap,” which is available at Amazon and at bookstores everywhere. Images courtesy of Brittany Lynne Photography, the proprietor of which is my “photography intern” for this project.