Does anyone know how to get free or almost free books for your library ? By books, I mean paper ones not ebooks.


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Our local library has a quarterly book sale. There are some tremendous buys there at maybe 50cents or $1.00. The last day of the book sale you can fill up a grocery bag with books, CD's and DVD's and pay $2.00. So check your local library for their sales. Also I have found in some used books stores some excellent resources for the library. In both these instances, you must be very selective in the item. There should be no yellowed pages, no markings, current in content. The book should be one that you would be pleased to have in your Christian library.

Another source is in their used book section. Sometimes you need to know the titile and author you are looking for, but buying the item new is expensive. Finding them used and in good condition is great. Ususally the seller will specify the condition of the book when it is posted online. Look at the reviews of that seller to know if they are creditable. But I have found in only one instance that those that post with with their used books are quite reliable.

God Bless You as you strive to build your library! Looking for good, useable books for your church library is like going on a treasure hunt! It is so rewarding to come up with something that you can use and that God is providing!



Dear Annie,

Thanks for replying to my question. We have a lot of public libraries in this area who have book sales, I just wish I had the time to go to all of them.

We have several excellent used book stores in town also. I wasn't aware that Amazon had a used book section. I'll check it out when I get a chance.

Looking for books is like looking for a buried treasure especially if they are on sale.

Thanks again !


Hi Janet,
I received free books for our church library (or myself) by doing book reviews. I am signed up with Thomas Nelson, Waterbrook/Multnomah, and Bethany House and their blogging for books programs are wonderful and easy to do. I have received every book that I have requested and am very pleased with their service. Below I've posted my blog address where I post my reviews, and then I also post the reviews on Amazon and Christian Then below that I've posted the website where you can check out the programs and sign up if you decide to.

Don't let setting up a blog scare you off. It really is very easy and you can make the content as simple as you want. Hope this helps.

Dear Ann,

Thanks for the very good suggestions. I would love to do book reviews but my life is very hectic right now, maybe after the first of the year.

Sorry for the delay in getting back with you.

Thanks again!

Janet Estridge.

Another thought is to create a list of authors and/or titles that you want to add and ask your church members to donate their copies "when they are finished reading" -- some folks just can't wait to buy that just released book!  I've had several offered or brought in to the library as a gift very soon after I bought the item!  

When you make the list, be very specific with instructions that any donated items must meet the same criteria as purchased items as stated in your selection policy.

Dear Sandra,

I never thought about asking members to donate their books.

Thanks again for helping me with this.

Janet Estridge.

I was at a chapter librarians meeting last Saturday and it was suggested that purchased gently used books from Amazon can be a great savings.  The librarian bought 8 books for $38.  Just watch the postage that these purchases can accumulate.  Alse Abe Books website is a good, but again there is postage involved.  Pay attention to the details of the descriptions.  You'll get to know certain vendors that you can trust.  Good luck.

Dear Bev,

Do any of these vendors offer free shipping ? As I told Annie I wasn't aware that Amazon had a used book section. What is a chapter librarian ?

Thanks for answering my question.

Janet Estridge.

If you look at a specific book title on Amazon, there is the title author, etc at the top along with the price.  Then Amazon tells you the shipping options.  Under that it says the # of NEW books available from Amazon and the right of that, the # of used.  Not all books have the options of used books.  I hope this answers your used book questions.


Chapter Librarian meetings are regional meeting through a larger church librarians association.  Examples are National Church Librarians Association (NCLA), Church & Synagouge Librarians Association, ECLA is Evangelical church Librarians Association.  There are chapters regional meetings usually twice a year.  Our SE Wisconsin has a chapter through CSLA.  Also, CSLA has a national conference once a year.  In 2013 members will be meeting in western NC.  Association fees are usually $40-50 a year and receive newsletters and resources.  You can look on the Internet at the various websites for more details on these associations.  NCLA will no longer be a national organization after the first of 2013, but the chapters continue.  If you tell me where you are located geographically, I can see if there is a local chapter that you can connect to.  If none, then this Q&A format is a good way to communicate with other librarians. 

Dear Bev,

I'll have to check out Amazon's website when I get a chance. I'm sorry to hear that NCLA will no longer be a national organization.

I live in the Sunshine State, central Florida. I'm not looking forward to cooler weather either.

Thanks again !

Janet Estridge.


Janet, I know this conversation has been going on a few months, but let me ask if you've tried a book fair.  There are more detailed articles on the web site at  Briefly, you would go to a book store like LifeWay and select media you would like to add to your library.  They would be temporarily charged to your church.  You could keep them two weeks and display them in your church perhaps on Wednesdays and Sundays and ask your members to purchase them as memorials, birthdays, honor gifts, etc.  You could return them at the end of the two weeks along with the money you got for the media and your church account would be credited.  Since you will get a 20% discount you can purchase extra books with that discount--charging members regular price for each item.  This can be done yearly or as often as you would like.  We have done this to create a collection for a library in another country.

Excellent thoughts by Eva Nell Hunter.  I have heard of this being done at a few churches.  Keep in mind that not all bookstores are willing to work this out, but be persistent.


I should have mentioned this sooner.  At our church, we have a binder at the Welcome Center that gives members the opportunity to sign up for flowers on the altar on a designated Sunday in honor of a special event or in memory of loved ones.  On the alternative page of the binder listed by months, the members have the opportunity to sign up for a library book or DVD given in honor or memory of loved ones.  I charge $15 for each book chosen.  Yes hardcover books cost more than $15, but I cover that balance cost through my yearly library budget.  If a book is requested for a child, I aim to be sensitive to the age of the child to try to match the age of the character or reading level of the book with the donor.  I gain 70-90 books each year in this manner.  I have a supply of books in my closet if the family wants to select their own book.  I shy away from letting the donor purchase the book as there tends to be duplicates if using this method.


You have lots of ideas to work towards.  Let us know how it goes.  Peace



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