Did you know that libraries are GREAT places to purchase books? It’s true! Libraries sell wonderful books that you can buy at very affordable prices!
When I say the word “library”, most people think of a place where they can borrow books (and other items like movies on DVD, audiobooks, magazines, and more).
But the truth is that you can almost always also purchase books at libraries.
In fact … libraries are a place where you can find really wonderful books (I call these “gems”). Quality books, in fantastic condition, and at very low prices.
In this article I share information about exactly what libraries sell (hint – it’s more than just books), how much they commonly charge for these items, and where to find books and more for sale at your local library.
Buying books from libraries is an excellent way to build your home library while keeping your costs low. You can also use library book sales to boost your child’s interest in reading. And you may just find books for yourself too!
What is a Library Sales Shelf?
“Library Sales Shelf” refers to a shelf or shelves located at a library where the library is selling books.
Each library may call their sale shelf something different. There are a lot of terms that get used. The shelf may be a physical shelf in the library. It could be a room, it could be a separate building.
These library sales shelves sell books and also other items like:
- Movies (on DVD or BlueRay, maybe even VHS)
- CD’s of music
- Books on CD (audio books)
How Much Do Books Sold at Libraries Cost?
In my experience the items I buy from Library Sales Shelves, including books, are remarkably affordable.
These are the standard prices I pay at the time of writing this article:
- Children’s paperback $.25 to $.50
- Children’s hardback or board book $.50 to $1.00
- Movies $1.00 to $2.00 (for DVD or BlueRay)
- Regular paperbacks (not children’s) $1.00 to $2.00
- Regular hardbacks (not children’s)
The books are always in pretty good condition. I have never been to a library sales shelf that was selling books with lots of damage or torn pages or writing in the book. I often find books in brand new condition, that would retail close to $20.00, on sale at the library for $1.00. That’s not a rare experience … it’s a pretty typical scenario.
One of the most common questions people ask me is how in the world I afforded all the books that we have in our home library. This is is one of the most common ways I did that. Purchasing books that libraries were selling.
Why Are the Books So Cheap?
When I talk with people about the wonderful books they can buy at libraries – and how cheap these books can be – some have shared with me that they shy away from even looking at these shelves. The reason? They don’t trust that they will find quality books because the prices are so low.
That’s a very natural reaction. And it is okay if you feel that way. This reaction happens when a person normally buys their books only at full price and only new from book stores or places like Amazon’s website.
If this feels familiar to you, try shifting your perspective and giving these books at the library a chance. Because there is a specific reason why the books are so cheap.
That reason is that libraries are built on the mission of getting books into the hands of people. More than anything libraries want their patrons to be reading books. Much of that mission is accomplished through lending books from their collections. When the libraries have excess books they make it their goal to get these books into the hands of people. Very often the books are sold, very affordably, by the libraries. They might also bundle the books into prizes – this happens every summer all over the country at Summer Reading Programs.
Why Do Libraries Have Extra Books to Sell?
The overall mission of libraries is to lend books – to provide books that you can borrow. But as you have learned in this article – libraries also sell books. Why is it that they sell the books? Instead of adding the books to their collections?
One reason is that people often donate books to libraries. Libraries may put some of these books into their collections, for people to borrow. The rest might be given away free (this often happens at library children’s programs) or sold back to the community.
Why would a library sell a book? Instead of keeping it? They might already have that book in their collection. They might have enough books on a particular topic. They might have newer books on that topic. They might want to keep the book, but happen to be out of shelf space. There are a lot of reasons why they might not keep the book.
Another reason libraries sell books is that they may have multiple copies of the same title. They may do this with a really popular book so they can meet the demand from their patrons. Imagine what it was like when the seventh Harry Potter book was published? Many people bought a copy, but many others borrowed it from their local library. Eventually they decide to release extra copies from their shelves, moving the extras to the sale shelves.
Why the Books on Library Sales Shelves Are Often Quality Books
In addition to the affordability aspect, the other main reason to hawk these library sales shelves is the impressive quality of books you will find.
There’s a plethora of reasons why including:
- People who read donate books for these shelves. And they have a good eye for good books.
- Libraries pull books from their shelves to sell – and those books are usually first edition, hardcover books with library protection. That means high quality paper and construction – aka a book that lasts forever. The cheap paper is what makes books smell, but expensive first editions are hardback with quality paper. They can live on your shelves for decades and still feel crisp and new each time you read them.
- Librarians know what kids like to read. They place books on the sale shelves that they know kids will enjoy. Books that will draw kids into reading.
- They also know there are all kinds of readers. Thus you will find fiction and non-fiction, books with lots of words and books with lots of pictures. Wordless books and graphic novels. The full scope of books that exist for kids to read.
I have found so many wonderful books at these shelves.
I find books that are brand new, first editions. Gorgeous picture books that are beloved in our home.
I find books that are out of print – but wonderful! I love that I discover these books. At a book store I will only encounter what they have in their inventory. Out of print books often disappear from those shelves. Just because a book has fallen out of print doesn’t mean it’s not wonderful. It just was pushed aside to make way for something new.
Most importantly – I find books that my kid wants to read.
He looks at these shelves as much as I do, frequently bringing home books to curl up with on the couch.
This is VERY important!
I want my child to read. I want him to love reading. Because I know that reading is a door to a wonderful world. Whether it’s enjoyment in fiction stories or learning something new or discovering where a movie reference comes from – reading is the gateway to all those things and more. But he can’t love reading unless he has enough books around him to discover for himself what he loves.
Of course having a lot of books means buying books. New books are expensive … but at the Library Sales Shelf I can easily let him buy any and all books he is interested in.
For the price of a new hardback book at $20.00 I can take home as many as 40 paperback books! FORTY!
I can even teach economics by buying some books for him but asking him to pay for others if he wants more.
And … because I’m not spending too much on these books I don’t feel too attached to them. We can enjoy the freedom of exploring the books and any that we don’t like we give guess where? Right back to the library!
One of My Own Library Sales Shelf Purchases
Here’s a quick story. The story of one of my own library sale shelf purchases.
It tells the tale of a typical purchase I find possible at library sales shelves.
This story happened on February 29, 2020. What a fun day that was to have this particular book adventure – being that it was Leap Day 2020.
I bought $7 worth of children’s books from a library sales shelf that day. Every single book was in BRAND NEW condition.
How many books did I get for my seven dollars?
FOURTEEN! As in the number 14. Two of the books were hardback first editions – original price $17.99 each.
Most of these books went to one of my book drive efforts. Into the hands and homes of kids whose families didn’t have a lot of extra cash at the moment. So they could have #booksoftheirveryown.
Enjoy photos taken of the adventure below. You can get a sense of some of the titles I found. And there’s a kid enjoying one of those books!
In closing, keep in mind that every library is different. The libraries reflect the people who run them. Some libraries consistently have amazing books for sale. Others not so much. Some save the books for big book sales each year. Others maintain sales shelves year round. Most of the time I have good luck and you can too. It’s a great way to let your kids purchase books to take home and keep! Happy Reading!