Thursday, June 23, 2005

Be frugal like Paul :) Part V - Books, CDs & DVDs

Cheap Books, Textbooks, Videogames, CDs and DVDs for Frugal People.

Looking to buy books for your kids' summer reading lists? Do you love to read books? Do you like owning your own copy of DVD's? Would you rather have your own copy of a music CD instead of just a downloaded file?

Well there's a place where you can get gently used books, videogames, CD's and DVD/videos for typically less than half the retail price (new items are now also available).

Before I plunk down my hard earned cash-ola on a new item, I always first check for cheap books, CD's (yes, I sometimes still buy a CD) videogames and movies on a website called As its name implies, was started as a website where people could buy used books, CD's and movies for at least 50% off the retail price from another individual.

It's a marketplace where buyers and sellers come together in a way similar to eBay, but with one big difference - acts as an intermediary between the buyer and seller.

That intermediary role is a major selling point for buyers that are weary of purchasing something from someone they don't know if they can trust. By acting as a go-between, protects the buyer from unscrupulous sellers who may try to cheat the buyer.

It works like this:

  • People with something to sell lists the item on and specify the condition of the item and a price they are asking.

  • The item remains on the website until it sells.

  • There is no auction, bidding or waiting. The price is firm, and the buyer decides if they want to buy the item in the stated condition.

  • Shipping is set by and added to your order.

  • The buyer pays who in turn instructs the seller to send the item to the buyer.

  • Once the buyer receives the item, pays the seller the purchase price minus a commission.

Everybody wins. The seller is able to get rid of their item, and a frugal buyer gets to buy their item at a discounted price.

The website has since been bought by eBay, but it still runs as a separate business. Sellers are now allowed to sell items for more than half of the retail price, and new items can be bought in addition to used items. They've also increased the product selection to include electronics and toys.

But the sweet spot is still for books, CD's, DVD's and video games. These items are typically in great supply, and are typically fine when purchased as a used item. I'm leery of purchasing other items on since there is a much greater possibility for variation in the quality of the item if it's something other than books and CD's.

A Caveat. There are still scumbags out there who try to cheat users. Always look at their feedback ratings which help you see if the seller has many unsatisfied customers. Keep in mind that their rating is no guarantee of reliability. Watch out for counterfeit or bootleg copies of movies.

I purchased a DVD from a seller who swore that he only sold originals and not fake copies - wrong. I received an obviously poor quality fake DVD. Fortunately, I notified that I was not happy with my order, and my money was promptly refunded.

With books, getting a gently used copy and paying $2 + shipping (roughly $2.80) for a hardcover is a great deal. When I'm done reading it, I can sell it for about the same price on or just keep it.

So remember, before you buy a book, CD, videogame or DVD, check out You could end up with a much better deal and have some extra change in your pocket as well.

Happy reading :)