Giveaways – Bargain [#5]

BARGAIN (1)

Bargain: Giveaways

Overview: Giveaways are promotional tools where something is given away for free. You can find giveaways in every corner of the internet – Twitter, blogs, Goodreads, etc. The format will determine how it is managed and how the winner is picked. Basically, you’re putting your name in the pot and hoping it gets drawn.

History: Fun fact – Publisher’s Clearing House was founded in 1953. While giveaways probably existed before PCH, we’ll use that as the inception.

Breakdown: 

Pros:

  • Free books and things!
  • Even if you don’t win, you may discover a new/different book that you’re interested in.
  • Giveaways make you follow new people (either on their blog or Twitter) and they’re usually pretty great.
  • Your entry is promoting some really great books and blogs!
  • You may help one of your followers win.

Cons:

  • Frankly, the odds are not in your favor.
  • Entering can be kind of spammy to your followers (especially Twitter and Goodreads).
  • It’s a bummer when you don’t win.
  • Cheating/favoritism is possible.

Personal Experience:

I’ve been extremely lucky lately!

I enter a lot of Twitter giveaways (sorry if you follow me!), so I was pleasantly surprised when I won not one – not two – but four Twitter giveaways this holiday season. Most Twitter giveaways are just follow/RT types. All you have to do is follow the person and re-tweet the giveaway tweet.

The first one that I won was through Shannon at leaninglights. She did 4 giveaways and I won the 4th for a big stack of children’s/middle grade books.

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I ended up giving these to a coworker who has a younger daughter. Her daughter absolutely loved them and even did her book report on the robot one — A WEEK EARLY! My coworker was so excited, so thank you so much, Shannon!

Next, I won a giveaway by Anna Breslaw, author of the 2016 debut Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here.

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She included a handwritten note that was so thoughtful! I will be reading this one very soon. Thanks Anna!

My third holiday Twitter giveaway win was through Nicole, an editor at Skyhorse Publishing. She was giving away some health books.

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I chose The Paleovedic Diet, which seemed like a reasonable and balanced approach to health. Thanks Nicole!

And my final Twitter giveaway win was through Heidi Heilig, 2016 debut author of The Girl From Everywhere. She was giving away some TGFE swag to the first 5 people to tweet screen-caps showing they’ve got the book on hold at their local library.

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Here is my lovely signed bookmark, map, and letter. Thanks so much Heidi!

That’s all for Twitter giveaways, but that’s certainly not all! I also won two blog giveaways recently!

The first was hosted by Nori at ReadWriteLove28. Her giveaway was through Sunday Street Team in November, when they were promoting The Anatomical Shape of the Heart by Jenn Bennett.

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This book has been on my radar for a while now, so I’m thrilled to own my own copy! Can’t wait to read it. Thank you, Nori!

And last but not least, I also won a Christmas giveaway through Kaitlin at Next Page Please! Her’s was unique in that she gave a few options and really let you choose what you wanted.

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I ended up choosing the first option, where I chose 2 bookmarks, 1 magnetic bookmark, some candles, and a book.

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I already own The Winner’s Curse and have a feeling that I’m going to love it, so I picked The Winner’s Crime so I can continue on right away. The adorable bookmarks will be put to good use and I will be burning those candles soon!

I just had a few giveaways on my Twitter that ended on Sunday, so if you aren’t following me, you’re missing out!

I will be doing a giveaway here on my blog when I hit the next follower milestone, so stay tuned.

Bottom line, I love giveaways. I think they’re fun and exciting. Give ’em a shot – what do you have to lose?

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY (2)

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Little Free Library – Bargain [#5]

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Bargain: Little Free Library

Overview: Little Free Library (LFL) is a book exchange – “take a book, leave a book”. They’re most commonly found as little wooden boxes on posts in peoples’ front yards. The goal is to make books accessible in every community.

History:  Todd Bol of Hudson, WI, built the first Little Free Library (though it wasn’t called that at the time) as a tribute to his mother, a teacher and book-lover. It was a little replica of a one room school house that he put up in his front yard with a sign that said FREE BOOKS. Soon, others were requesting libraries to put in their own yards. With the help of some skilled craftsmen and effective marketing, Little Free Library became a full-fledged non-profit in 2012. Since then, over 36,000 Little Free Libraries have been registered worldwide.

Breakdown: 

Pros:

  • Books are free!
  • You never know what you’ll find. It’s somewhere you want to stop every time you go by.
  • It’s easy to find a Little Free Library near you.
  • They promote literacy and a community of readers.
  • Leaving a book really gives you the warm fuzzies.

Cons:

  • You never know what you’ll find. Sometimes you may not want to take anything.
  • Books are in used condition.
  • Possible damage due to weather if the Little Free Library is not structurally sound.
  • Stock may be low.
  • Some people take advantage, doing a lot of taking and not a lot of leaving.

Personal Experience:

My first experience with Little Free Libraries was years ago, probably in the early stages of Little Free Library becoming an organization (though I’m not sure it was an official LFL). My neighbors across the street put up a little house library with a “take a book, leave a book” sign. I live smack dab in between an elementary school and a middle school, so it made a lot of sense. I was excited about it – I went across the street and checked all the time, usually leaving more than I took.

Fast forward a good 5 years or so and transport across the country to present day. I moved not too long ago and saw a bright pink box while driving from my old apartment to my new apartment. I hadn’t seen any little libraries in my new state, so I was instantly interested and excited!

This is my local Little Free Library.

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It’s separated into adult books up top, kids books on the bottom. There are even little bookmarks made by the kids of the house that it resides at.

This is me leaving my proof of Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork.

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I leave things in this particular LFL often – books that I’ve tried to sell/trade with no luck. I’ve only actually taken one book from this one which was Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. I haven’t read it yet, but the book itself is in great condition. IMG_20150904_173341

I figured I should check out some more LFLs for this post, so I consulted their website to find more by me. You can go to their map, put in your location, and it will tell you all of the registered Little Free Libraries around you. Here’s the Denver metro area:

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I visited a few near me. They were darling and it was apparent that their stewards (what LFL calls the owners) truly cared about having books in their communities.

 

This one had a bench next to it for reading or resting. There was an adorable note from a kiddo too:

Hello everyone. Thank you for your continues support of the little free library. <3, Gwen

This one also had a bench. I was impressed by the cool decor and the lights that outline the roof. So fancy!

I liked this one the best for many reasons. It’s super colorful, the shingle roof is so cute, and it was packed to the brim with books! Do you see that back layer?!

I highly recommend you check out a local Little Free Library. Bring some books that are collecting dust and share them with your community. Maybe you’ll find something you want to take! And if you have the means and desire, consider putting a Little Free Library in your yard to share some much needed book love in your community!

P.S. Check out their Twitter page for some of the most creative and unique little lending libraries I’ve ever seen!

 

 

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY (2)

Book Outlet – Bargain [#4]

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Bargain: Book Outlet

Overview: Book Outlet is an online book retailer.

History:  There’s not a whole lot of information available about the history of Book Outlet. Their business is built around selling excess/return books they get from publishers. These books are marked with a teeny mark or dot to indicate they’re of the excess/return variety and so they can’t be returned to the publisher again. They also have scratch and dent items that are “structurally sound and completely readable” but flawed in a minor way (a rip, a missing dust jacket, a scratch, etc.). The result for the buyer (that’s you!) is a new book for dirt cheap prices.

Breakdown: 

Pros:

  • The prices! New YA books are going for anywhere from $1.00-$6.00 or so. And not your grandma’s YA books – I’m talking new and popular YA books.
  • The website is really easy to navigate and browsing/searching is simple.
  • They periodically have sales for holidays which will knock off anywhere from 15-30% of your total.
  • They get new books every day. You never know what they’ll have, so you can check back often.
  • The books are NEW and never read.
  • Shipping prices are reasonable and you receive your books fairly quickly.

Cons:

  • The pricing is high in comparison to some other places you can get books. (See my Goodwill post.)
  • Every book is not available at all times; i.e., it’s not Amazon. Selection depends on the day and the number of copies that they have.
  • That teeny little mark on the edge of the book. If you care about that, Book Outlet is not for you.
  • There are no shipping guarantees available. If you need something by a specific time, Book Outlet is not a good option for you.
  • I’ve heard a couple stories of less than satisfactory customer service.
  • Their website is the definition of an “overly-attached girlfriend”… If you look at something but don’t purchase, you’ll receive an email about an hour later with the following: Capture

Personal Experience:

I’m a cheapskate by nature, so I don’t usually like to pay $4 for a book. I’m really stingy, I know! I’ve been on Book Outlet many times but hadn’t ever placed an order. As promised, I will only write about bargains I’ve experienced first hand, so I bit the bullet and placed an order.

I ended up with a coupon for $5 off a purchase of $20 during the Black Friday sale, so I filled my cart and checked out. I was reviewing my order in anticipation for my new books when I noticed the total was different than what it was supposed to be. My coupon hadn’t been applied and a book was missing. I quickly figured out that a book sold out in the 2 seconds that it took for me to finalize my order, so I was shy of the $20 minimum, thus the coupon was not applied. One help ticket and a WONDERFUL customer service experience later, I had a refund on that order and it was time to try again.

Here’s a rundown of what I ended up ordering:

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As they arrived:

Unpacked, all lined up:

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(Guys Can Be Cat Ladies Too not pictured, as it was already given as a Christmas present.)

Here’s are the top and bottom edges with the marks:

Wolf in White Van, Illusion, and The Isle of Blood are all hardcovers. The rest are paperback.

These two are the “scratch and dent” items:

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Illusion had a slash on the front of the dust jacket (looks like it was a box cutter). It also had some discoloring/bleeding on the inside of the dust jacket. I’m just going to stick a piece of tape on the inside along the cut and it should look just fine.

Wolf In White Van had the teeniest little rip on the dust jacket and spine of the book at the very top. It’s barely noticable. I’m not going to do anything to modify this one.

Overall, I’m VERY pleased with Book Outlet. I would absolutely order again. It’s amazing bang for your buck and a really great experience from beginning to end. I especially enjoy the scratch and dent section. As you know, I don’t really have any qualms about a book not being in pristine condition, so scratch and dent is the way to go. I mean, $0.90 for a brand new 400-page book? Yes, please!

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY (2)

Goodwill – Bargain [#3]

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Bargain: Your local Goodwill

Overview: Goodwill is a chain of thrift/charity stores that can be found in 17 countries across the world. People donate their used and unwanted goods and Goodwill re-sells them, using the proceeds to programs for job training and the disabled. The Book Shelf can be found in most Goodwills – a section full of used books to buy.

History:  Founded in 1902 in Boston, Massachusetts, Goodwill got its start as a mission project of Morgan Methodist Church. Congregation members donated used household items and clothes to provide an opportunity for the unemployed to develop mending skills. Soon they adopted the retail business model and started spreading out across the United States. Today, Goodwill provides jobs to countless people that may not otherwise have the opportunity to work. It also makes gently used, quality goods available for reasonable prices.

Breakdown: 

Pros:

  • They’re everywhere! This is a store locator for the Denver area alone. I could hit up 8 different Goodwills in one day.

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  • It’s REALLY cheap! And pricing is standard based on type of book. There are also opportunities to receive half off discounts based on the color sticker on the book and the day.
  • The selection is wide – you can find so many different types of books.
  • The thrill of the hunt! You truly never know what you’re going to find.
  • The money goes to a great cause.

Cons:

  • You have to go a physical store.
  • Browsing takes time.
  • There’s no guarantee that you’ll find what you want or are looking for.
  • You see a lot of the NYT Bestseller and Oprah Book Club books over and over.
  • As with all used books, they may not be in pristine condition.

Personal Experience:

I adore Goodwills. They’re my favorite thrift stores to find books at.

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This is for two reasons – 1) I always seem to find gems at Goodwills (it’s just a weird luck thing) and 2) I always know how much I will pay when I get to the register.

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They have standard pricing on books based on the type (as seen above) and half price depending on the little colored dot sticker on the spine. I walk up to the counter with my $1.07 (a full price paperback + tax) and I’m out the door in no time. A buck for a book? Yes please.

I’ve found some really great books at Goodwills. Here is the spread of YA at a local Goodwill on one day. The first picture is what I found and the second picture is what I bought (for like $12).

I love browsing the shelves and looking at all of the titles. I go in with an open mind, expecting to find nothing, and sometimes get really lucky. I’ve even gone in thinking, “I wish I could find this book,” and then find it! It’s magic.

Getting books at Goodwill certainly has its downfalls at times. I can’t even tell you the number of times that I’ve walked out of the store with nothing in hand, having found nothing that I needed or wanted. Is that wasted time? Maybe. Or I see a spine of a book I want, only to pick it up and see the pages are water damaged or stuck together with gum. Half off days (alternating Saturdays) are always REALLY busy. You never know when they’ll restock the shelves.

My current gripe is that lately, Denver Goodwill book sections have been… lackluster. They haven’t been stocked. The beautiful shelves have been replaced with little trinkets and clothes. Even worse, they’re using them to display VHS tapes. That’s right, that obsolete medium that no one uses, let alone buys! I don’t even know anyone that has a VHS player hooked up.

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The shelves that actually have books on them formerly held shoes. The books just look sad, don’t they?

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I heard rumors from employees at two different Goodwills saying that they no longer plan on selling books in their retail stores. I was devistated! I tweeted at Goodwill International in this ranty thread. The corporate office passed me off to Denver who assured me that they’re just redoing them and then blew me off.

Regardless of what happens, I’ll continue buying books at Goodwill until there are no longer books in Goodwills. You can’t beat the adventure and the price. And you’re supporting a good cause in the process!

So tell me, have you/would you buy a book at Goodwill?

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY (2)

#booksfortrade on Twitter – Bargain [#2]

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Bargain: #booksfortrade on Twitter

Overview: #booksfortrade is a hastag on Twitter used to offer up/seek out books to trade (makes sense, right?). A trade is just what it sounds like – I will mail my book to you and you will mail your book to me. Traders will either tweet books (usually in the form of a picture) that they have up for trade or will tweet a list of books they’re ISO (in search of). It is appreciated if US only or international is specified. Typically, trade discussions begin in a reply tweet to the original #booksfortrade tweet and then move over to direct messages for finalization and hashing (haha, get it?) out details. Once a trade has been agreed upon and addresses have been exchanged, you pack up your book and mail it off. You send your tracking number to the other person. After you’ve received your book, it’s customary to tweet out a thank you to the sender (or at least DM them and let them know you got it.)

History:  The first instance of the hastag was on September 22, 2014. Based on personal experience, the hashtag has really experienced a lot of activity in the last 3 months with regular traders.

Breakdown: 

Pros:

  • It’s cheap! Assuming the book you’re trading away is already a sunk cost, you’re only paying for shipping. (Media mail has been about $2.72 for a paperback and about $3.77 for a hardcover, depending on the weight, within the contiguous US. I’ve never done an international trade so I do not know how shipping would turn out.)
  • Opportunity to get specific/rare copies (especially ARCs/foreign) for your collection.
  • The hashtag has a large reach and bloggers re-tweet other bloggers, so finding that elusive last book for the collection is actually doable.
  • It may be a better value to get rid of your unwanted books this way vs. selling to a local used bookstore. For example, if you sell a relatively current hardback to a local used bookstore, you may get $1-4 or so in store credit to use towards another purchase. You probably will not be able to buy a book with this credit alone. If you trade with someone, you’re getting a $17.99 hardcover for just the price of shipping.
  • Book mail is always fun!

Cons:

  • Scammers. Liars. Cheaters. They’re out there. (More on how to protect yourself under my experiences.)
  • A bit time consuming to sift through tweets and agree on a trade.
  • If you’re offering up books, there may be no interest in your books, so it’s not a sure way to get rid of books.
  • If you’re seeking books, people that have the rare book that you’re seeking usually want to hold on to it. Rare books are rare for a reason.
  • Negotiating a trade can be difficult.
  • Some traders are notoriously bad at sending your book in a timely manner.
  • There’s a very small possibility that your book would get lost or damaged in the mail.

Personal Experience:

Let’s be honest with ourselves for a moment and address the elephant in the room – Twitter is not the most secure location to do transactions. There are liars and cheaters and scammers. I’ve heard of many instances of being scammed out of books – sending yours off only to never receive the trade books in return. It happens.

It’s easy for me to go into a trade with very low expectations because I haven’t spent much on the book I’m trading away to begin with (typically only a few bucks, at most). When I send books out, I hope for the best and prepare for the worst. By the time they’ve left my possession, I’ve already written them off. Either I get a book back in trade (yay!) or someone else pulled one over on me and got a free book (boo!). I’m a firm believer that bad people get what’s coming to them, so that bad juju will come back around.

I can understand how heartbreaking and frustrating it would be if you spent $17.99 on a brand new hardback, read it once, paid nearly $4 to send off the trade, and then never received your book in return. I would be MUCH more upset if this was the case. This is why it is it really is important to do your homework on the trader before agreeing to or sending off anything.

In order to try to prevent a bad experience, I always do a reference check of the person that I’m looking to trade with. I ask for 2ish names of people that they’ve already traded with and send a tweet to ask about their experience. Or I check and see if they’ve got multiple “thank you” tweets from others that they’ve traded with. It’s not a perfect system – people can turn from good traders to bad traders at will. But I at least TRY to cover all the bases.

Honestly, my first trade experience was… not great. We agreed to a trade, I sent mine off, she received it and I waited… for weeks. Almost a month. I did what I could to contact her numerous ways but I hadn’t received a response. At this point, I had just written my book off and chalked it up as a learning experience. But then a miracle happened and she sent the book off. I got it 2 days later and I was elated!

All in all, I’ve traded using #booksfortrade 6 times to receive 8 books (2 trades were 2 book trades).

All of my trades have started with me posting a photo of books I have available for trade.

An example:

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People replied back and conversations moved over to private messages. Eventually, a gal and I agreed to a trade of my Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children for her Winner’s Curse. We exchanged addresses and I packed up my book to send off.

I’ve heard that I may go a bit overboard on packing, but I pack how I would want my book to be packed. I start with putting the book in a ziplock to prevent water damage in instances of weather. Then I wrap the book in bubble. Then I put it in a bubble mailer. Then I tape like crazy! Away we go!

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As soon as I got home from the post office, I sent the tracking number to my fellow trader and got my incoming tracking number the next day. Then, I waited. Media mail takes forever, but it’s cheap so it’s worth it.

Finally, BOOK MAIL! I forgot to take a picture of the package because I was too excited.

Then, the customary thank you tweet!

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All in all, I’ve been pretty happy with my #booksfortrade experiences.

Thoughts: 

If you approach #booksfortrade with the right mentality, it can be a really affordable way to do work on your collection. If you enter into a trade with realistic expectations and take the risk, it can be a great resource to find books you’ve been seeking or get rid of books you no longer want to keep. I like #booksfortrade – I’ve had (mostly) good experiences. I enter into every trade with the lowest expectations possible and am usually pleasantly surprised. I will continue to trade until the risk/reward is no longer in my favor.


Ever used #booksfortrade? Share your experiences!

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY (2)

Library Sales – Bargain [#1]

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Bargain: Library Sales

Overview: Library sales are sales hosted by a library system or branch to raise money and/or thin their catalogs. These are usually 1-4 day events (at least partially on the weekend) that occur once a year or season. Many have a pre-sale screening the night before the sale for library members to browse and/or buy before the general public is allowed in. Pricing ranges from $0.50 per paperback to $5 per hardback. The sale can either contain books that have been pulled from circulation, donated new/used uncirculated books, or both. Many will have a last-day bag sale where you can buy a lot (whatever you can fit in a paper bag) for a flat fee.

History: Honestly, I’m not sure when library sales first started. I assume they’ve been around for a while, as libraries date back to 2600BC!

Breakdown: 

Pros

  • A vast (and often current) selection of thousands/tens of thousands/hundreds of thousands of books
  • Great pricing, especially on bag day
  • The money goes to a great cause
  • Being surrounded by book lovers
  • The thrill of the hunt!

Cons

  • Crowded, since they only happen one or a few times a year
  • Some are unorganized and not separated by genre; none are alphabetized
  • May be impossible to find a specific title
  • Browsing/hunting is time consuming
  • Circulated texts can be in rough shape
  • Resellers (and their scanners) snatching up books left and right

Personal Experience:

I use Book Sale Finder to find all of my sales. You can also contact your local library to see if/when they have their sale.

I just went to one about 2 weeks ago at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. It was my first JeffCo sale and I was VERY impressed.

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Walking up, I bee-lined to YA because, well, it was my priority.

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There were some serious YA titles. These pictures just show one of probably 10 tables containing books on top and below. This sale had primarily circulated books and some were in really rough shape. But some were in excellent condition! I also ran into a few cases with multiple copies of the same book, so I could pick the copy in the best condition.

They had their children’s section in a separate room from YA. It had TONS of picture books, but also early readers and middle grade titles.

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Then I went upstairs to explore the adult fiction, non-fiction, everything-else section and my jaw dropped. There were books. I mean, there were BOOKS. Hundreds of thousands of books!

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The pricing was more than fair. I was expecting to pay $3 for a hardcover, but I was kindly reminded that YA is considered children’s, so they ended up being just $1 each! Talk about a steal!

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I ended up picking up 12 YA hardcovers for $12 bucks.

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All of the books that I got were circulated and some were a little beaten up, but I don’t mind. Some people leave the library book jacket covers on their books, but I don’t like how they look on the shelves, so I remove them.

Here’s an example of one of the books that I got – Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor. The page edges were a little written on with marker or pencil. The binding was a little messed up. And, of course, the book jacket cover.

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These issues were no problem for me. I ripped the library dust jacket cover off and taped the binding. The dust jacket cover removal process probably could have been more delicately – it ripped a little lining off the inside covers and removing the glue is tough. I will experiment after my next library sale to figure out if I can get them off without damaging the book and report back!

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I’m happy with my decision to take the library dust jacket covers off. I would prefer a cleaner look on my shelf and this definitely achieves it! From the outside, you’d have no idea it was a library book. Here’s the finished product.

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These are my twelve books after removing the library dust jacket covers! Aren’t they beautiful?

20151023_145528Thoughts:

I’m a huge fan of library sales. Fair prices, great cause, quality titles, and an overwhelming sense of community. I already have at least 4 marked on my calendar for the next 6 months and I can’t wait! I recommend them to anyone not too concerned with condition and that wants a good deal. If you don’t mind working for your bounty, it is a great bargain!


Have you ever been to a library sale? What did you think?

Also, what do you think of the new feature? Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions!

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY (2)

Putting the “bargain” in (bargain)bookbliss!

According to the Oxford Pocket Dictionary,

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To me, books are just that – perfect happiness. Books bring joy to so many, including me and (presumably) you.

Unfortunately, books are also expensive. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American spends $101.00 per year on entertainment in the form of books. I assume figures are similar worldwide. I would argue that this figure is much greater for the average book blogger and book lover. At upwards of $17.99 for a hardcover, the activity of being a reader can be financially draining.

When I set out to create a blog, I wanted to show that loving books doesn’t have to break the bank. Hence, (bargain)bookbliss was born.

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Up until this point, my primary focus has been the books. But it’s time to shift the spotlight! It’s time to put the “bargain” in (bargain)bookbliss.

Without further ado, I announce my new weekly feature…

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Each and every Friday, I will spotlight a different bargain – a way to get books on the cheap. 

Saving money is something that I’m a fan of (who isn’t?) and I want to share with you how I collect books on a budget.

Each post will include:

  • either an IRL (in real life) bargain or an online bargain – alternating weeks
  • a brief history
  • pros/cons
  • a personal experience that I’ve had
  • my brutally honest thoughts
  • my recommendation (or not) and to whom

This feature will NEVER include:

  • sponsored posts
  • untruthful/watered-down opinions of the bargain
  • the be-all-end-all of how to get books for cheap

While I understand that some people like to buy all books new, there are many that can’t or don’t want to. Maybe you’re a chronic failing book-buying-ban-er. Maybe you want to save up for a vacation. Maybe your significant other told you to cut back on the books (even though they spend just as much on their hobby/vice!). Whatever the case may be, I hope these bargains will help you save a bit of cash – or open up your mind to the possibility of doing so!

See you tomorrow for the first bargain!

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