I’m delighted my kids enjoy a good book as much as I do, however keeping our home constantly stocked with fresh books can be a costly exercise. Here are a few ways I’ve found to satisfy our ‘habit’ without breaking the bank.
Making it count
If we want our local book industry to thrive it’s important to support writers, publishers and booksellers so when I do pay full freight I try to make it count. Many of Sydney’s bookstores, such as Better Read than Dead and Kinokuniya, host events and workshops throughout the year where you can meet local authors and support them by buying their books. For example last school holidays I took my kids and nieces to the launch of Total Quack UP in Sydney’s CBD Dymocks. Yes, it set me back a small fortune in books but it wasn’t that much more than I would have paid had we gone to the movies. We got to meet Australian authors Sally Rippin and Adrian Beck, support Dymocks Children’s Charities and we even got free popcorn.
Books to borrow
Through our local libraries we’ve discovered new genres, authors and interesting subjects for only a few dollars in late fees. Considering how much effort goes into creating books I was relieved to discover that, according to the Australian Library and Information Association, each year libraries contribute close to $500 million to the book industry by way of direct purchases, marketing support and promotion. Australian book creators can also apply for a small amount of compensation for the loss of income through the Australian Lending Rights Scheme which, according to the Australian Government Department of Communications and the Arts, has resulted in ‘over 17,000 individual lending right payments totaling $23.3 million’ being paid in 2017–18 .
Libraries are now making it even easier to borrow. Recently my family drove to Dubbo. On the way I read Jane Harper’s excellent debut novel The Dry on my phone courtesy of my library membership. All I had to do was download the Borrow Box App developed by Bolinda and I had the eBook all to myself for two weeks. I haven’t tried audio books yet but I understand they can be borrowed the same way.
Books to swap
Over recent years I’ve noticed street libraries popping up, community book exchanges appearing in shopping centres and to be honest, my friends and I often swap books among ourselves. What I try to do, particularly if I haven’t paid for a book, is to write a review on Goodreads or Amazon. It doesn’t cost a penny and helps support authors by spreading the word about their work.
If you really want to do something wonderful in your local community consider organising a Great Book Swap. Participants swap a favourite book in exchange for a gold coin donation to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation to fund new books for remote communities.
If you don’t mind eBooks then Book Bub is a great way to find the latest online bargains. I also subscribe to author and publisher newsletters (as they often share sales of their titles) and Amazon is pretty good at sending relevant items my way.
Scholastic Australia warehouse sales happen nationwide around the year and are a fantastic source of children and young adult titles. Yes, I still regularly buy books through our school catalogue but when it comes to buying BIG a 50-90% off RRP is hard to resist. You can find a list of sales through their website or by following their Facebook page.
Subscribing to bookshop newsletters are a great way to catch sales such as Booktopia’s Booktoberfest or Galaxy’s recent Buy 3 SF Masterworks and get $20 off deal. Your local bookshop should have some easy to spot bargains out front, online shopping sites like Cudo sometimes have book packages and don’t forget your big retail chains: Big W, Kmart, Target and on occasion ALDI.
Second hand books
I honestly haven’t managed to sell the kids on this yet but if you head to the back of most charity shops you’ll find stacks of perfectly good pre-loved books at bargain prices. Our local library has books to buy for around $0.50, local markets generally have a few stalls and of course you may find a treasure at a garage sale down the road.
Not necessarily a budget saving exercise but one of my favourite things to do is combine my love of coffee and good food with books. A few enterprising Sydney venues have definitely got the mix right. My picks are:
- Bondi Beach – Gertrude & Alice (get in early to get a seat)
- Paddington – Ampersand (ask about the ghost in the basement)
- Glebe – Sappho Books Cafe and Bar (go at night for music and sangria)
I’m sure there are many more. Enjoy discovering your next reading nook.