How to Get the Best Deal on Used books - for the Least Amount of Effort

How to Get the Best Deal on Used books – for the Least Amount of Effort

I love reading, and I am constantly taking to the internet to track down the next book for my ‘reading pile’. Since I am rather time poor with three little kids to take care of, and we need to stick to a budget, I’ve streamlined my method for finding and buying used books online.

My method may not always find the absolute cheapest second hand copy of a book I’m searching for, but unless it is very pricey, I’m generally unwilling to take thirty minutes comparison shopping to save a few cents. So without further ado, here are my two tips for getting the best price on used books.

Use AbeBooks to Find Great Deals on Used Books

In general, I have noticed that used books listed on AbeBooks cost a bit less than used books on Amazon. I’ve not looked into it, but my guess is that the fees for posting books for sale is a bit less on AbeBooks, and so the seller passes savings on to the buyer.

AbeBooks is super easy to use – pop the title, author, ISBN, or any other identification into the search bar, and you’re off to view the results, automatically sorted by cost, including shipping.

The following an affiliate link, so if you click through, and make a purchase, I’ll earn a small commission at no cost to you.

Search for Used Books on AbeBooks US  Search for Used Books on AbeBooks UK

Pro tip: always check that the book ships from your own country. Some books that are more popular in the US will ship from there to the UK for less money than to buy a copy within the UK, where they are more rare and more expensive. I don’t usually like to wait for international postage though, and so if the cost difference isn’t too great, I’ll purchase a more expensive copy that will arrive in less time.

AbeBooks is reasonably well known, but it’s only one part of my strategy. For just a few extra clicks, it’s possible to get some of your money back after you’ve made your purchase.

Get Cashback when You Buy Used Books

TopCashBack is probably my favorite website of all time. I use it to earn cash back on most of my online buying, on everything from clothes to our internet provider.

In a nutshell, the website works by giving you the affiliate income they earn when you purchase through their links. You’ve probably noticed affiliate disclaimers – there is one in the last section! Clicking through an affiliate link and making a purchase doesn’t cost you at all, but the person who referred you earns a small commission.

Instead of TopCashBack keeping this commission, though, they give it back to you. Slowly, the money adds up until you ask them to transfer the money to your bank account or to vouchers you can spend elsewhere.

So, my complete method to get the best deal on used books is simple:

  1. Sign up for an account at TopCashBack.
  2. Search in TopCashBack for AbeBooks
  3. Click their link to Abebooks, which will open the AbeBooks website.
  4. Find the books you’d like to purchase and add them to your cart.
  5. Click ‘Buy’! After your purchase is confirmed, you will get an email from TopCashBack saying that your order tracked, and you can view the amount you earned in your account.

And that’s it! The cashback will show as ‘pending’ for several weeks before being ‘confirmed’ and then ‘payable’.

The links to TopCashBack are affiliate links, so I will earn a commission if you join through my link. This has no impact on your use of the website – it is alway free!

Go to TopCashBack (US)  Go to TopCashBack (UK)

Protip: You will invalidate your ability to claim cashback if you used a voucher or coupon code that isn’t approved and posted on TopCashBack. So do watch out – although in most cases you will save more money with a voucher than you would get cashback.

Get Cashback on Other Purchases, Too!

Purchases on AbeBooks are currently receiving about 5% cashback on TopCashBack. Even with little, occasional purchases like used books, the money adds up. But do take a look around the website and see where else you can get cash back on purchases you are already making.

In about 3.5 years of using the site, I’ve earned nearly £400 in cashback. This is on purchases I would have made anyway, paying the same (or more) amout of money up front. The biggest earnings I have gained are from utility providers (internet, gas and electric, mobile phones) and from travel services, like airlines and hotel booking websites.

Do you have any tips for buying used books online?

If you care, please do share!

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