Posts Tagged ‘Frugal Fiction’

Books With Benefits

Look familiar? There is definitely an uncanny resemblance between this picture and my dining room! The depicted conversation is all too familiar with my husband recently  asking why he had bought me a Kindle if I’m going to continue to “clutter up” the dinning room with more and more paper books. I won’t tell you my less then elegant retort for fear of upsetting any small people reading!

My problem is that I absolutely adore books, reading them, reviewing and recommending them, smelling them and looking at them on a beautifully alphabetised(one day!) bookcase but even I have to admit to keeping copies of books that I am unlikely to read again.

A recent visit to my local Oxfam (the spoils from which have been discreetly hidden from the husband) has certainly made me re-think my book hoarding. With falling book donations and stock levels, Oxfam are using the month of June to highlight the need to re-home your  previously read, unwanted and neglected books . Hearing that the money raised from the sale of one paperback could buy two new books for schools in Somali land  certainly put my my dust gatherers in to perspective!

Oxfam’s target for June is to Collect an additional 500,000 books. The money from which is enough to fund all of their work in Rwanda for a whole year!

Now don’t get me wrong lovely followers, I’m certainly not going to be obtaining the minimalist look any time soon but I do believe that a book sort is long over due and I shall be donating any “spare” books to my local Oxfam shop.

If you want to get involved you can take your donated books to any Oxfam shop during opening hours or  post them in one of their 300 donation banks situated in Salisbury’s car parks. Of course there is nothing to stop you having a little browse while you are there!

Don’t forget that Oxfam also has an on line shop which you can visit here or learn more about from our Frugal Fiction post on charity shops here.

Post by Caroline

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Frugal Fiction: Supermarket Bargains

While visiting my local Tesco superstore today I noticed some fantastic offers on their YA Books. Unable to help myself I picked up these little beauties!

A hardcover of Tempest by Julie Cross for £4.99(RRP £9.99).
A two book pack of Knife and Swift by R.J Anderson for £4( RRP £12.98).
The Hunger Games: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion for £6.47 (RRP £12.99).

While I was there I also noticed but didn’t purchase:

 Fallen In Love by Lauren Kate buy the Hardback and get a free paperback copy of Passion.

Paperback copies of Everneath by Brodi Ashton and A Witch In Winter by Ruth Warburton for £4 each.

Happy book buying!
Caroline x

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Frugal Fiction: Book Clubs

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: Jane

In this world of ever increasing cost we are constantly looking at ways to save money in everything we do and buy and books are no exception!  So, here I am with my £8.00 budget and a topic of ‘Book Clubs’ for this months ‘Frugal Fiction’…  Where to start I thought and then later that day upon collecting my son from pre-school, what should come home with him but the ‘Scholastic Book Club’ catalogue!

I have to say I am a sucker for catalogues in general, it’s lovely to have a little time out and browse through shiny pages of lovely loot, and finding a little gem here and there within those pages makes it so much more worthwhile.  Browsing through the latest Scholastic catalogue provided a great way to see lots of books for different ages, all grouped by section and age range as well as great value book collections – such as the Julia Donaldson Pack, 6 books including Zog, Tabby McTat and the Snail & The Whale to name a few – for only £14.99.

We all love a bargain and especially in this run up to Christmas time so books such as Dinosaurs Love Underpants and The Stick Man at only £1.99 can provide fantastic stocking fillers for the pre-schoolers. Not forgetting the upper age ranges either, with the Classic Reads for Girls Trio – The Secret Garden, Flambards and Little Women at £8.99, providing a great value pack for any little girl starting to enjoy our timeless classics.

Scholastic also offers a fantastic system of providing 20p in every £1 you spend to your pre-school or school in free books – every time you buy books your school benefits too!  Scholastic offers free delivery (a great bonus when ordering from any company!), hence making it a rather beneficial book club to be part of all round.

But, Scholastic aren’t the only book club of this type out there.  I also had a good look at Red House.  They provide a similar type of loyalty scheme whereby you earn points every time you buy and points mean prizes – in this case – free books!!  
Of course these types of clubs aren’t just predominantly about children’s books, the Book People for example are a fantastic book club offering reading material across the whole spectrum  – from pre-school, children and Young Adult to Adult fiction, DIY, Cookery and Gardening to Health and Beauty, the list goes on.  I searched out The (complete) Hunger Games Trilogy for £4.99, alongside the Morganville Vampire Chronicles (a complete set of the first 6 books) for £6.99!  Now that’s what I call a bargain!  So once again, great savings are to be made on sets of books.  Order time and time again and qualify for a Points Passport – more free books!

Obviously all these kind of companies appear online too so you don’t just have to wait for the latest catalogue to end up in your paws, you can view their entire range online.  One way or another, this kind of shopping can be effortless for those not able to get out to bookshops at opening times.  Unfortunately though, the downside to this type of shopping is often the cost of delivery which these companies charge.  Whilst a £3.95 delivery charge may not seem a large amount (taking into consideration petrol, parking and time costs), it can obviously bump up the cost of your order, especially when ordering on a regular basis.

So, how did I get around to spending my £8.00 budget?

Scholastic – The Stick Man for  by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler £1.99

Scholastic – Aliens Love Panta Claus by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort – £1.99

Red House – The Night Before Christmas (incl. musical CD) by Clement C More – £3.99

Advantages: You can get some great books, new and classics for fantastic prices that you probably won’t find on the high street. You can order as many books as you like because you don’t have to carry them all home – they get delivered straight to your door!  You can find some good packs of books, especially for children, which can save a lot of money against purchasing individually. And of course, all of this can be done from the comfort of your own home, in your pj’s with a cup of tea if you so desire!!

Disadvantages:  Be careful what you buy in terms of book packs – these can often be spread across age ranges rather than just aimed at one group.  For example, you may believe you are purchasing a pack for a pre-schooler which may then end up having a couple of books in more suitable for a 5+ year old child.  So I would say, know what you want beforehand and check that all the books in the pack are suitable for you at that time.

Sometimes the quality of book packs from these kind of clubs can be slightly lower than that of which you are expecting – hence what appears as extremely good value can sometimes make you realise why they were such a good price!  Obviously last but not least, the delivery costs – which can bump up your purchasing costs quite considerably.

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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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Frugal Fiction: eReads

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. We discuss accessibility, variety of books available, value for money and top tips.

Reviewer: Lesley

My £8.00 is not actually in my pocket this month… it’s just ‘virtually’ jangling there in the ether as I spend the monthly Frugal Fiction budget on eBooks.

Websites are springing up almost daily selling eBooks and I’m discovering that it is certainly a ‘frugal’ means to buy your books.

So with the magic ‘8’ in my mind I started off in Amazon. I admit to buying all my eBooks here at the moment as I have a Kindle.  Amazon is already known for selling books cheaply and with the arrival of the Kindle a couple of years ago the Kindle book store is no exception.  For me, the greatest thing about buying an eBook is that it is delivered immediately.  We are not limited to just ‘fast food’ anymore! In an era where  people want it and want it NOW the eBook downloads immediately and you can delve straight in.

With over 700,000 books to choose from I can be on this site for ages browsing around to my heart’s content. I’ve been delighted to find many books are free on Amazon.  I can download a lot of the Classics, including; Pride and Prejudice, A tale of two cities, Jane Eyre, Treasure Island, Dracula, the list goes on and on. 

Most will be familiar with the Amazon interface. It’s fairly easy to use and under ‘Bestsellers’ you’ll find lists of ‘Top 100 paid’ and ‘Top 100 free’, new releases, Editor’s Picks, Bargains etc.

There are also newspapers, magazines, and blogs you can subscribe to which will automatically download and drop into your Kindle each day/week/month when you go online with it.

There is a vast sea of sites out there and it will be case, I’m sure, of different strokes for different folks… but  I want to mention a few of them.

I was impressed with Kobo.  Kobo says it has millions of titles, and I loved the navigation and interface of the site. Kobo calls itself a ‘device neutral platform’ as you can download eBooks to your smartphone, desktop or tablet by using a Kobo app but it isn’t currently compatible with the Kindle. However you can download as a pdf. Kobo also sell their own eReader. This is such a great site with reasonable prices and I will be downloading the Kobo app to my iPhone for sure.

Other goods sites are:

Really I’ve found the list is endless.  If you have an eReader then it’s best to research which site best fits your device.  There are so many to choose from but I’m convinced you will find books to suit all budgets!
The new releases and best sellers tend to be at the pricier end of the scale but there are so very many bargains to be had and literally thousands of books at around the £1 to £2 mark. Each site also offers free books.

How I spent the Frugal Fiction of £8.00:
C. J. Box – Three weeks to say goodbye  –  £3.49

Susan Alison – White lies and custard creams  –  £0.97

Victoria Connelly – A weekend with Mr Darcy – £0.99

Cecelia Ahearn – Where rainbows end – £ 1.99

That’s a total of £7.44. Not bad for 4 books. And four books that I have available to instantly read without having gotten up from the sofa!

When you factor in the huge number of free eBooks out there… you could keep stretching that budget forever!

Instant download. You fancy a book, you find it, you download it. Et Voila… away you go.
I love the accessibility and convenience. E-reads can be stored easily on many different devices whether that’s a laptop, desktop, smart phone, tablet, e reader…
I’ve now added the Kindle app to my iPhone and therefore can access my ‘books’ on my phone should I want to when I’m out without my Kindle.
I think the prices are great.  New releases are pricier but I’ve already noticed a book I spent quite a bit on when I first got my Kindle for Christmas last year is now a third of the cost.

As much as I love my Kindle and it’s my preferred platform for reading now, there is still something very special about buying and opening a brand new PB the first time. As my Kindle is in black and white and I skip to the beginning of the book I rarely take notice of the cover anymore… the very thing that used to attract me to a book, and then I discover it with excitement the next time I’m in a bookshop with an ‘ah… that’s what it looks like!’. 
A little research is necessary to ensure you are buying books from sites that definitely support your particular device. Not all do.
There are still a lot of books out there that aren’t available as eReads yet. You may have to wait a while for a favourite book to become available.

I’d been waiting quite a while for a couple of my favourite reads to be available on Kindle. Finally I checked the other week and Hooray, they were.

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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

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Frugal fiction: Read it swap it!

The Demon Trappers: Forsaken

This month I’m taking the £8 budget and using it to fund book swaps on the swapping site Read it swap it is a website which facilitates book swaps in the UK. You register your unwanted books on the site and then search the extensive library for books to swap yours with.

The site is very accessible and easy to use. There is a single page registration form, the usual terms and conditions to agree to, and then you’re good to go. Registering the books you have available to swap is simply a case of inputting the ISBN and ticking a few boxes to indicate the condition of the book. Then the fun begins, searching for books to swap with. You can either browse the library by; most recent, most popular, and genre or use the search box to look for specific authors and titles.

Having identified a title of interest, simply browse the list of owners (registrants are awarded a star rating based on swapping history) and click on swap with this member. This swapper is now given access to your list of books and can decide if they wish to swap with you . Once a swap is agreed you are provided with the postal details of your fellow swapper.Sisters Red. Jackson Pearce

After you have received your book(s) you are given the opportunity to provide feedback on your swap, contributing to your fellow swappers rating.

To make best use of the site, my top tip would be to compile a wish list. Read it swap it will send email notifications should anyone make one of your desired titles available for swapping.

For further information click here.

What I got for the money
The swaps are free but you are responsible for the postage of your book, I usually send my books as a second class package, it is sometimes possible to send slimmer books as a large letter.

I swapped Paranormalcy by Kiersten White for Jana Oliver’s The Demon Trappers Daughter: Forsaken: Postage £2.16

I swapped Alyxandra Harvey’s My Love Lies Bleeding (Drake Chronicles) for Jackson Pearce’s Sisters Red: V. 1: Postage £1.72

The Body Finder
I Swapped, Hex Hall: Raising Demons by Rachel Hawkins for The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting: Postage £2.16

And I swapped Emma Donogue’s Room for Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go :Postage  £2.16

Ok you’ve got me – four books for £8.20!  But what’s 20p between book lovers!

Free books – all you pay is the cost of original book and postage

You can re-swap swapped books for even more reading material

It is an easy to use site, minimal effort required.

You are keeping the post office in business!

Read it swap will notify you when “wish list books” are added to site.

You have to have books people want to swap with.

These are second hand books so you rely on accurate descriptions of condition from other swappers.

It requires internet access including email.

It requires access to the post office.

Never Let Me Go

The website is very easy to use with very clear information pages.

The site lists over 364,000 fiction and non-fiction books from a variety of genres including contemporary and historical fiction, classics, young adult, sci-fi, cookery, health and wellbeing, parenting, short stories and poetry.

Value for money
The cost of postage for the  books swapped came to £8.20 to purchase the same books new from a popular online vendor would have cost £17.19 a saving of £8.99.

Post by Caroline

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