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Five Ways To Ensure Your Budget Doesn't Supercede Love Of Reading

SunSentinel.com (Newspaper) - 10/13/2008 by Candice Choi
One budget line Wendy Li isn't watching even in this tight economy is her spending on books. That's because she uses PaperbackSwap.com, one of the book trading sites that are growing in popularity.

"All I have to pay for is the postage," said Li, a 44-year-old banker in New York City. A diet of three books a month costs her only about $6, clearly a bargain for an avid reader.

Whether it's trading titles, downloading e-books or tapping discounts at major retailers, borrowing from the library isn't the only way readers can cut costs.

Start swapping If you've got books to barter, check out sites such as PaperbackSwap.com, Bookins.com and BookMooch.com.

The rules are simple; generally you list the books you're willing to trade. Every time you mail a title out, you get a credit or point, which you can redeem for a book. At PaperbackSwap.com, which currently lists 2.4 million books, you also can purchase credits for $3.45.

Membership is free on all three sites, so your only cost is shipping.

Finders keepersFor a more unusual approach to trading books, there's BookCrossing.com. The idea is to leave books in public places -- in an airport lounge, on a park bench -- and let people find them. Users log onto the site to note where they "released" the book.

Buy smart at retailersIf you're ordering a book online, remember to compare prices at major retailers. On Amazon.com, for example, a new paperback copy of the best-seller Eat, Pray, Love was listed for $9, compared to $10.50 at Borders.com and $13.50 for nonmembers at BarnesandNoble.com.

All three retailers and eBay.com also offer used copies through third-party sellers.

Go electronic With the help of volunteers, the nonprofit Project Gutenberg compiles e-books and offers 25,000 free titles at www.gutenberg.org. DailyLit.com sends serialized books via e-mail. You can set the time it arrives in your inbox and adjust the size of how much text you want in each installment.
Trade used books Trade in your unwanted books at a used bookstore. Most used bookstores don't pay much, but you might get a better deal in store credits.

Buy at the library Libraries often hold sales to clear out space for new books. Prices are generally even lower than at used bookstores.

Many local Friends of Libraries chapters hold annual book sales where paperbacks usually go for around 75 cents and hardcovers sell for $1 or $2.