How to Stock Your Back-to-School Reading List…Inexpensively

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Homeschoolers and books. We go together like rama lamma lamma ka dinga da dinga dong. (That’s a reference from the movie Grease for all you spring chickens out there. In a move that will be showing my true age, I’m going to state that I saw it in the theater. During its first run.)

We homeschooling families make jokes that aren’t really jokes about our astronomical library fines and the problem of having too many books and not enough book shelves. I think we all realize that the problems are real, y’all. Most of us could use an intervention.

This is not that intervention.

Nope. This falls more under the category of feeding your addiction. For some of you, this article may be a trigger. You may need to quit reading.

How to Stock Your Back-to-School Reading List…Inexpensively

I have found a new source for quality used books at very reasonable prices. I’m so excited about it that many of my in real life friends and family have already heard about it. I have gushed.

Because my oldest daughter and my sister are as bad as I am, we’re already considering a recovery group.

I think we’ll call it ThiftBooks Anonymous.

Because, y’all, ThiftBooks has over 7 million used books – paperback, hardback, out-of-print – with a grading scale (like new, very good, acceptable, etc.) to help you choose quality used books at unbeatable prices. In my experience, the grading scale was reasonably accurate. Three of the books I ordered were like brand-new. Only one of them was a bit more beat-up than I’d have cared for, but it was just the cover, it wasn’t horrible, and it was a great price, so it’s all good.

They offer free shipping on U.S. orders of $10 or more and ship orders within 24 hours. And they take PayPal. I may never have money in my PayPal account again.

ThriftBooks review

I jumped on the opportunity to review ThriftBooks, stopping just short of saying, “Y’all would be crazy not to choose me for this review because I know lots of homeschool moms.” And, you know, we seem to have an almost universal book addiction.

I had this brilliant plan that I was going to use my shopping stipend to stock up on books for school next year. Shopping  is super-easy on ThriftBooks because you can search by title, author, keyword, ISBN, or category. Category was my downfall. I have titles on my wish list such as:

  • The Secret Life of Bees (for my books-made-into-movies reading list for the kids)
  • The Scarlet Letter
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  • Fahrenheit 451

See? Fantastic titles for our reading list next year. But, then I started looking in the teens category. And, then I got curious about how much their hardback books cost. And, then I asked Megan about a book or two. And, I wound up with this:

ThriftBooks Review

The last two extremely reasonably-priced hardback Harry Potter books to finish off my collection, The Book Thief because we just watched the movie, and Thirteen Reasons Why because it sounded interesting and Megan said she’d been wanting to read it. (For the record, I finished it this weekend and Megan will not be reading it for a few years, but that’s beside the point.)

To help you save even more money (unless you just use it as an excuse to buy more books, but none of us would ever do that {ahem}), ThiftBooks features a bargain section called Thrift Deals. Any title marked with a DEAL tag on the detail page is priced:

  • 2 books for $7.00
  • 3 books for $10.00
  • 4 books for $12.00
  • each additional for $3.00

They also offer some really nifty features such as:

  • Reading Rewards – a loyalty program with no annual fee that rewards you with a $5 coupon for every $50 you spend on books.
  • Tell-a-Friend – a referral program that gives your friends and family a 15% off coupon as a new customer. You also get one for referring them if they sign up within 14 days; unless you’re a Reading Rewards member. Then it’s 20%!
  • Wish List – The ThiftBooks wish list will email you when an out-of-print book you want becomes available. Um, yes, please! They will also show you how often they get copies of the title you want and how many other Thrift Books customers are interested in the same title. You know, so you can size up the competition.

It’s worth noting that the shipping times may be a little slower than what you’re accustomed to, but they’re not bad, especially considering the savings of ordering through ThriftBooks. I got the first shipment within 5 days of placing my order and received all of my books within 8 days.

ThriftBooks - Where to buy used books at great prices.

I know many of you are planning your upcoming school year right now (if you haven’t already started). Head over to ThiftBooks to shop for the books on your reading lists. If you don’t get sidetracked putting lots of bargain books in your cart, I know you’ll save some money. And, hey, even if you do buy more books than you’d planned, they’re books and they’re cheap. It’s that whole “kid in a candy store” thing, homeschool style.

What books are on your family’s reading lists this year?

This post is linked to the Hip Homeschool Hop.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. Great timing, we just received the reading list for my dd’s writing class. I don’t seem to be able to find any information on the condition of the Thrift Deals books, has anyone ordered these before? I’m willing to spend a little more per book if there is a big difference in condition. Thx

    1. I haven’t tried the deal books yet, though I’m getting ready to order a whole new slew of books for our reading list. I’m like you; I’d pay more for books in better condition. If the deal books list condition (I haven’t checked yet), the condition grades are pretty accurate. Like I mentioned, I only received one that was in worse condition than I’d have liked. I probably could have returned it. I’ve heard from other people that ThriftBooks’ customer service is stellar. It wasn’t poor enough quality for me to want to go to the trouble, though, so clearly it wasn’t too bad.

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