A Guide To Finding Cheap Books for Beach & Poolside Reading


It’s beach and pool season, and while I love both locales for reading, I’m always hesitant to bring my Kindle, library books, or pretty hardbacks to either. What if I accidentally get them wet or super sandy?!

Recently, I asked a public librarian what she thought about people bringing library books to the beach or pool. She said that, in general, she and other librarians really don’t mind. They WANT people to be reading, however, she did admit that they do lose a fair number of books each year to damage from water, sand, etc.

I don’t want to be that person. The one who has to surreptitiously and shamefully drop a waterlogged book into the library return bin. I also don’t want to get sand stuck in my Kindle or my beautiful hardbacks. What’s the solution?

Cheap paperbacks!

Paperback prices have steadily creeped higher and higher, so buying them full-price at the bookstore can get quite expensive. Thankfully, there are a bunch of options that will allow you to get your hands on great books at a great price (even free). Give them a try before your next beach- or pool-side reading session!

Books I found at Goodwill recently. Good stuff!
Goodwill/Thrift Stores

Head to your local Goodwill or thrift store, and I guarantee you’ll be shocked at how many fantastic books you’ll find for sale on their shelves. On a recent visit, I found Wild, by Cheryl Strayed; The Wind-up Bird Chronicles, by Haruki Murakami; The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah; Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen; and many many more. The best part is the price. At my store, paperbacks are only $0.50 each or 5 for $2.00! I’m sure your Goodwill will have awesome prices as well.


Used Bookstores

Used bookstores are probably the most expensive of all the options listed here (a lot of used booksellers actually go to thrift stores and library book sales to get their stock), but they’re still cheaper than retail price. Also, if you’re looking to weed part of your own collection, some used bookstores will buy books from you for either cash or store credit. Either way they decide to pay, you can use your earnings to get more books!


Library Book Shops

Most public libraries have a section or shop where they sell used books donated by patrons or ones weeded from the library collection, and they’re usually dirt cheap. My library charges a mere $1.00 for paperbacks.

County library systems also usually have annual or bi-annual book sales, which is like their bookshops, but on a much larger scale. Generally, they’re organized by the system’s Friends of Library, so just search “Friends of the Library book sale” and something near you is bound to pop up.  


Used Booksales

You have to be on the lookout to find used book sales, but they are worth it. There was a sale near me where I spent only $50 for books that would have more than $500 retail! Some are hosted by libraries (as described above), but other organizations like churches and schools also hold book sales to raise money. One source for finding them is www.booksalefinder.com.


Little Free Libraries are everywhere. See if there’s one near you.
Free Little Libraries

Not every neighborhood has a Free Little Library, but if yours does, it’s your source for freeeee books. Just make sure you bring a book to trade in, and you’re golden. The Free Little Library official website has a searchable map of all registered libraries, so check it out to see if there’s one near you: https://littlefreelibrary.org/ourmap/


Bookswap with Friends/Family

I’ve never held an official book swap, but any time I see a book I’ve been eying on a friend’s or family member’s book shelf,  I don’t hesitate to ask to borrow it. Almost everyone I know loves sharing books they’ve read. That way you can talk about the stories together. Holding an organized book swap would only streamline the process.
I’m definitely going to try and have one soon!


Where do you find cheap books? Share in the comments below!

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