Thriftbooks: An Experiment

Thriftbooks Order 1

I mentioned in How to Read on the Cheap that I’d come across the site Thriftbooks, but I hadn’t ordered from them yet.

Well, now I have.  They offer free shipping (in the U.S) on orders over $10, and whaddaya know, the three next-in-series books I needed by three of my favorite authors totaled just over $11.  So I figured this would make a good test run.

After reading the category descriptions for the condition of the books listed, I decided my lower threshold would be “Good” books…I’m not terribly picky about used books, but I don’t like handwritten notes or highlighting, so “Acceptable” seemed a little risky.  I’m happy to report that all three books are in better condition than I hoped for, based on their rating.  There’s no wear on the pages, very little on the edges of the dust jackets, and while there are markings, it’s not in the text.  (A little further explanation is needed.)


Two of the books are ex-library.  I have no problem with former library books, since 90% or better of my TBR right now came from library book sales, but I was glad to see that the customer is forewarned.  My two books have the library name stamped on page edges and also inside the front cover–very minor, doesn’t bother me a bit.  (Also they’re from the same library, which I think is kind of cool!)

There are other notifications, too.  The site will warn you if a hardcover is missing its dust jacket, for example, which is nice.  I already have two used hardcovers missing theirs, and it didn’t stop me from buying them, but I’d rather have the dust jackets if I can, so those are books I’ll skip in the future.

My third book is non-library, but it does have a black stripe across the bottom–a remainder mark.  This doesn’t bother me now, though it was a hell of a surprise the first time I ordered a paperback (new) from Amazon and received a hardcover instead with a black mark across the bottom page edges.  Pickier customers might have complained, (and been right to do so, because the item wasn’t as-ordered,) but once I found out what the mark meant and understood what had happened, I just shrugged and said to myself, hardcover for a paperback price, it’s not worth the trouble to ship back.  So I kept it.

I’m also happy to report that, while I left the bar code stickers on for the photo, they are easy to remove.  That would have been an issue, if TB slapped the gross, nearly-impossible-to-remove stickers on their books.

Overall, I’m thrilled by how well this turned out.  I got three books I wanted, in hardcover, for less then $12.  The free shipping has a wide window of 4-14 days, but I got mine in five, and honestly wouldn’t have minded if they’d taken longer, since I’m willing to wait for a good deal.  The books are well within my tolerance for used-ness.  And the site has a loyalty program!

So I recommend Thriftbooks highly to anyone who wants to read on the cheap.  I can see myself using it a lot to find specific books that I want which aren’t turning up in local used-book sales; or something I want to read and can’t get through my library system, but am not sure I’d like enough to want to buy new.  I’m a lot more likely to donate or otherwise give away a book I got for $3 and didn’t like, versus one I spent $20 on.

Happy book shopping!


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