Frugal Fiction: Charity Shops

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: Helen

I don’t get to do it very often these days, but there is nothing I like better than to browse for new books. That said, the books don’t have to be new!  Pre children, when there was time to do things like browse, I loved to scour our local charity shops for a bargain!  I particularly enjoy finding that hidden gem, a book you have been wanting, and then there it is. The pot luck of the charity shop makes it all the more fun and the achievement all the better when you find something that you really want. 
I also found it a great way to discover new authors, or try out stories that I wasn’t sure about.  I first read Jeffery Deaver through charity shops, I thought he might be a bit to gory for me, but it was fine!  I have tried lots of ‘chick lit’ type books that I would never have bought as a new book.  After hearing about Tess Gerritson from Karen, I might well try her out from the charity shop.  Of course this is because charity shops charge less!  We all love a bargain, and I have usually found that I can pick up a good paperback for about £2.50.  As a rule I don’t buy hard backs, but there are often a good selection at most charity shops and it can be a great way to get hold of them, if that’s what you prefer.

Since having my children I have picked up the odd bargain for them too, a book of fairy tales, some picture books, old annuals.  They have been good, but it is worth flicking through and making sure the books are in good condition, there are often some with drawing in, flaps missing in pop up books and so on.

As with the car boot sales, there are certain authors you can guarantee will be there somewhere, – Maeve Binchy through to Agatha Christie.  You may not find the exact book you want, but you’ll probably find something.  Most charity shops have a good book section, we all know second hand books are great after all!  We are lucky in our local area to have an Oxfam that is totally dedicated to books.  It’s fantastic, with whole sections on Classics, Biographies, Non-fiction, Crime Fiction, Recipe Books and so on.  They also have a rare books section which is fascinating to look at.  There are books  I remember which are now classed as rare – why did I get rid of them?! 
It is also important to write about the latest development in charity book shops, which is the internet (of course!).  Oxfam now has a site on which you can look for books, they have a search system by author or genre and then by quality or cost.  You can then see not only what is in your local Oxfam, but every single one in the country and then have the book posted out to you.  They have a rather unique delivery charge, you can pay nothing so the book costs what it would as bought from the shop, or you can make a voluntary donation to cover shipping, there are recommended donations based on the type of book etc, or you can pay more than they recommend and count it as giving to the charity. This applies within the UK. I haven’t found other charities that sell their books on line, but you can go on to most charity sites to locate their shops and there are a few that have dedicated book shops now.

Unfortunately I have been unwell for the last two weeks and not got out there with my £8!  However I can tell you I am planning on looking for some Alastair McCall-Smith books, a Tess Gerritson and maybe a Jodi Picoult or a Marian Keyes.

If I were to shop on line I have seen

Small Island by Andrea Levy £2.99; The Bleachers by John Gresham £2.99 and The Other Hand by Chis Cleave £2.99.
This would take me slightly over budget, but these are all books I really want, so maybe that’s ok!

AdvantagesCharity shops give you a chance to try things you may not otherwise do, and generally pick up a bargain. With the on-line service you can check out a greater selection and look for a particular book.  The free delivery option means you can still get a bargain.
Also if you don’t want to clog up your shelves you can return your books for someone else to buy and feel good about donating to charity!  This applies to buying a book too, you know you are supporting a good cause as well.

If you have a specific book in mind you may not get it, or you may need to be patient until it comes along.  Unfortunately there is no guarantee that it will!

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