Frugal Fiction: Car Boot Sales

Each month we use our FRUGAL FICTION post look to at different ways to make the most of your money and get more books for your buck! We take £8.00, an average RRP for a paperback, and see how much literature we can get for our money.

Reviewer: Karen

I have to admit, I just love car boots!  Yes you often have to trawl through other people’s tat, ignore the traders selling goods that probably wouldn’t pass a standard safety check, and if unfortunate enough to bring your family along – put up with their whining (this applies to partners in particular!).

The joy of car boots though is the bargains to be had. Now I’m sure that regionally, what you tend to find at car boots will differ. What I am fairly confident in guaranteeing though is the abundance of hardback (HB) and paperback books (PB) usually in immaculate, ‘read once’condition, almost being given away!
As a seasoned car booter, I keep to a strict rule of 50p for a PB, £1 for a HB and I’mall the happier when 3 for 2’s are offered!

Through my many visits, I have noted that certain authors crop up time and time again. I would now never buy Jodie Piccoult brand new, as her books are almost guaranteed at every pitch! Chick lit and in particular, Sophie Kinsella are frequent finds as well as Patricia Cornwell and James Patterson….I could go on but basically, any ‘popular ‘ books will most likely be found.

Thanks to car booting I am now a fan of Jeffrey Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme series. I picked up Mo Hayder’s ‘Skin’ in HB (in immaculate  condition) and whilst still a fairly new release for a £1. In May this year i managed to grab the recently televised, ‘The suspicions of Mr Whicher’ in PB by Kate Summerscale for 50p.

My children now have numerous car boot book finds including my recently reviewed ‘Calm down Boris’, most of which are in excellent condition. Do though check children’s books carefully. I don’t mind an inscription or the odd bit of scribbling if small, but there may be tears, missing pages and unidentified stains which the seller may not have realised was there.

It’s also worth keeping a list of ‘wanted’ books. I am trying to upgrade all of my Karin Slaughter books to HB and have spent many times at a car boot scratching my head wondering if I have the book already.
Quite often, you’ll find a seller who has many books that you have read and enjoyed yourself, and if they are feeling chatty they’re usually happy to discuss favourite authors and may even recommend to you an author you have never read before and for 50p, what’s the harm in trying?!

How I spent the Frugal Fiction budget of £8:

Emily Bronte -Wuthering Heights PB 50p (on the cover it states, ‘Bella and Edward’s favourite book’ *snorts in amusement*)

Eoin Colfer – Artemis Fowl The Arctic Incident. HB 50p.

Becca Fitzpatrick – hush, hush. PB 50p

L.J. Smith – Vampire Diaries The Awakening and The Struggle. PB 50p.
and, The Secret Circle ‘The captive part 2 and The power’ PB 50p

Val McDermid – The Wire in the Blood. HB £1.

Alyson Noel – Blue Moon. PB 50p

Cecilia Ahern – Where rainbows end. HB £1

June Crebbin ‘Horse Tales’ HB 50p.

So, in one morning’s hunting, I spent, including admission £6.50.  I was therefore £1.50 under budget and now have 9 books to enjoy.

I also have to include fellow BBLB reviewer Caroline’s bargain find of the Narnia 7 book box set. In immaculate condition, purchased for 50p, and considering it’s currently retailing for more than £20 on Amazon, this was an amazing find!

Entrance fee for car boots is usually between 50p and £1. Even when you factor in travelling costs, buying just one book would still be cheaper than the highstreet or online equivalent.

At a big car boot you’re likely to grab plenty of books in one go. I’ve been known to return home with more than a dozen books!

As the books are so cheap you’re more likely to try new authors or genres.

You can pick up so many other bargains whilst there; music, DVD’s, video games, children’s clothes and baby equipment are very common finds.

Disadvantages It is still ‘Pot Luck’ as to what books you’ll find and you will have to do lots of walking and bending down as opposed to sitting on the sofa, cup of tea in hand, browsing online. It’s also amazing just how heavy a few HB books can be to lug around. On that note I would recommend taking a sturdy bag and not relying on a flimsy carrier bag the seller will offer you, if they have any bags at all!

I wouldn’t recommend taking pre-school kids along. There are endless toys that they just ‘have’ to have and it can get very boring for younger children if you are focusing on buying books.

Car boots tend to be seasonal. The season usually starts sometime in April and ends in October

One Comment

  • AmieSalmonYAWriter

    I found this great to read because my Mum and myself often sell at boot fairs, and I am always buying books from there. (And we are those sellers who sell PB for 50p and HB for a £1) And I couldn’t agree with you more that a lot of the same authors turn up at boot fairs, and I find a lot of people asking me if I have specific authors, so never be afraid to ask.
    I think some of the hardest books you find is Fantasy, and my Mum occasionally sells a few of hers she is not so keen on and they are usually the first thing to sell. So that Narnia Collection for 50p was an amazing find.
    I recently bought Fallen by Lauren Kate for 20p!! An absolute steal. And I bought a Hans Christen Anderson anthology for a £1, this was to replace the one I sadly loss.
    Great post.

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