Building a budget-friendly book collection

Go to Pinterest or Tumblr and search "books".


As you scroll through the page, your gaze seems to stop at a beautiful room filled with books. Perfect lighting, perfectly designed book covers. That image is the dream.

Dream no more. Wipe that wistful and desirous look off of your face. You can build a drool-worthy book collection too, without offering up your first born child.

Answer the tough questions

Starting your own treasure trove of books can be a hefty task. Before you gather books for the collection, you should organize your thoughts. The best way to do this is to ask these important questions:

What are my favorite genres and who are my favorite authors?

How much am I willing to spend?

How much space am I willing to commit?

After you've mentally interrogated yourself, you can move on to the following steps.

Visit the library

Not only can you borrow books from the library, but you can also purchase them. Libraries hold affordable book sales daily, and most have a dedicated space for their bookstores. Two of the best library bookstores in the Valley are the Burton Barr Friends of the Library bookstore and the Tempe Public Library. The Friends of the Phoenix Public Library also hold seasonal sales in their warehouse. You can often find classics in good quality and interesting I-wouldn't-have-picked-this-up-in-a-normal-bookstore-but-I-love-it finds.

Shop used

After visiting your local library, take a trip to a few thrift stores and discover their book sections. Goodwill and Savers are the two stores I would recommend. You can find new releases, rare books, large encyclopedias, classics, and textbooks at these stores. While you'd expect that they would be in terrible condition, many of the books seem new and unopened.

Don't like the covers? You can cover your books with fabric or paper to your heart's desire. You can find instructions for covering your books here, and they aren't necessarily limited to hardcover ones.


Do you already have books that you might not want to keep for your collection? Perhaps you own a few duplicate copies? You can always trade them in for books you actually want (or cash, but that's a different conversation). Visit Zia Records or Half Price Books for this option. Another benefit of visiting these stores is that they also have discounted treasures for your collection.

Think outside of the bookshelf

You need a strong, attractive bookshelf to house this impressive book collection, right?

Not necessarily.

Depending on your style, I recommend that you think outside the bookshelf. Bookshelves can get pricey, and this is a good excuse to consider alternatives. You can build your own bookshelf using items like pallets, crates, or baskets. You could stack them all up along the walls until they consume you. And never forget the benefit of having a windowsill. The moral of the story is that this is your chance to get creative - seize the moment.

With these considerations, I hope you achieve the book collection that you've always imagined for yourself. While I'm advocating that you scrounge up as many books as you desire, make sure that it's a manageable investment for you, in your life and your wallet. With that being said, go forth and read.

Do you have any other tips for those trying to jump start their first book collection? Join the conversation and reach the columnist at or on Twitter @marie_eo.

Political Science senior Marie Rabusa strives to live by the great lessons she finds in books every day. She hopes to eventually travel, analyze, and write about the world. When she isn’t grappling with the ethical implications of international events, she’s daydreaming, exploring the city with her playful pup, and fulfilling the demands of a bookworm’s day-to-day lifestyle.

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