Living Vegan In Charlotte, NC

Frugal Friday: Saving Money On Cookbooks (And Other Books)

tiger bookshelfOne thing about being vegan, it forces you to learn to cook!

As a vegetarian, you can still get by on takeout and frozen food. And almost every restaurant in the Charlotte, NC area now has at least one, often several, vegetarian options.

As a vegan, your only takeout options might be on the other side of town. There’s not much ready-to-eat in the grocery, unless you want to spend a lot of money on frozen veggie burgers and Tofurky deli slices. And restaurants that have multiple vegetarian options may not have a single vegan offering, except for salad.

And so we cook.

And become obsessed with vegan blogs and cookbooks.

I’m pretty obsessed with books in general. Yes, I proudly admit to being a Bibliophile (which is a lover and collector of books, not a cross between Bible and pedophile, as evangelist Ray Comfort believes). Over the years I’ve found a few ways to save money.

I admit it, I'm a Bibliophile. Its not an addiction. I can quit any time I want. I just never, ever want to.

I admit it, I’m a Bibliophile. Its not an addiction. I can quit any time I want. I just never, ever want to.

Be open to older cookbooks, not just the newest, “hottest” ones. By older I mean three years or more. You’re much more likely to find these at a deep discount.

Get a library card. It’s worth visiting your library and checking out their collection of vegan and vegetarian cookbooks. The library may also have a subscription to VegNews or Vegetarian Times. While you’re there, ask when they hold their book sales. (Often, many of the books at library book sales were donations that never made it onto the shelves.)

Become acquainted with a good used bookstore.  In Charlotte, two of the best ones are Book Buyers on Central and Julia’s Cafe & Books on Wendover (proceeds from book sales go to Habitat for Humanity). If you go to Book Buyers, be sure to check out The Greener Apple, a small vegan and earth-friendly store housed onsite.  If you go to Julia’s Cafe, sip a soy latte while you browse. Selection at used book stores varies – you might find treasures one visit and nothing at all the next.

bookshelf 3

Hit some yard sales or estate sales.  Once a year, I purge my staggering collection of books. Whatever I can’t sell on ebay, I try to yard sale before taking to a used book store or donating. Search the yard sales on Craigslist using the keyword “books.” Also, estate sales can be rich sources of books, as often these are books only up for sale because the owner has passed.

Visit your local big-box bookstore, such as Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million. These stores will let you sit and browse through books – a perfect way to tell if a book is a good fit for you or not without spending a dime. (Recently I browsed the book Vegan Casseroles, which I thought sounded intriguing. However, the majority of recipes in the book calls for “cheese” or “cream” sauces made from cashews – not the book for me!) While you’re at the bookstore, also check out the clearance section. In my opinion, Books-A-Million has a much better clearance section than Barnes & Noble.

Check Ebay. Yes, you can check for specific titles or just under general vegan/vegetarian. But why not also try searching for “lot vegetarian cookbooks” or “lot vegan cookbooks”? If you’re lucky, you could wind up with a number of cookbooks for under $20.

Go to You’ll find lots of books at real clearance prices – plus low shipping. You can also find current books in the “scratch and dent” section. Sign up for emails – they have tons of promos!

bookshelf 2

Check out Amazon. Yes, Amazon sells new books much cheaper than brick-and-mortar stores, but there are a few additional ways to save:

Check out Amazon’s “Deals in Books.” (Go to the Books department, then click the button all the way to the right.) Be careful – some of these are good markdowns but others aren’t!

See what’s available through third party sellers. To do this, click on a book. Notice you can see the available formats … Kindle, hardcover, paperback. Now, notice there are also columns that say “New from …” and “Used from …” These are the third party sellers, and often they offer the best deals. I’ve picked up books for pennies + shipping! Tip: Only purchase books that are “new,” “like new,” or “very good” if you think you may sell it or turn it over to a used book store at some point. Not only will you receive more store credit for a book in good condition, some used bookstores will not even accept a book in poor condition.

Check out Kindle editions. Amazon is aggressive about pricing most of its Kindle editions lower than the physical book. Many people don’t realize you don’t actually have to have a Kindle to read a Kindle book. You can just download the Kindle Cloud Reader app and read on any computer!

Finally, check out Kindle Unlimited. For $9.99 per month (and you can try it for free for 30 days) you can read “unlimited” Kindle books. The catch is you can only download 10 books at a time; to download more you must “return” some. Also, the “unlimited” Kindle books include a large amount of iffy, self-published books (you know, the kind with bad speling and grammar that ain’t too grate). So finding the books you want can be slightly challenging. The workaround? Sort the books from highest to lowest price. Higher priced books are more likely to be actual published books. I did a quick scan and currently Kindle Unlimited is offering:

  • All of Alicia C. Simpson’s excellent books – Vegan Comfort Food, Low Fat Vegan Comfort Food, and Vegan Celebrations
  • A number of “Everything” books – Everything Vegan, Everything Vegan Baking, Everything Vegan Slow Cooker, Everything Vegan Wedding, Everything Vegan Pregnancy
  • Forks Over Knives and the Forks Over Knives Cookbook
  • The Kind Diet
  • Bean by Bean by Crescent Dragonwagon
  • Veggie Burgers Every Which Way
  • Vegan Freak: Living Vegan in a Non Vegan World
  • The Cheesy Vegan
  • Caribbean Vegan
  • Vegan Junk Food
  • Peta’s Vegan College Cookbook
  • This Ain’t No Picnic – Punk Rock Vegan Cookbook
  • Rawesomely Vegan

I hope this information helps my fellow frugal Bibliophiles! Please feel free to share any money-saving, book buying tips you might have!

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8 Responses »

  1. Oh, indeed–I’m a bibliophile too. Especially with cookbooks. Our local used book store does trades, so I’ve been lucky to swap some meat-heavy books for plant-based ones this year.

    I’ve also inherited my family’s cookbook collection (both parents loved to cook, but neither were anywhere close to being vegetarian; in fact, my grandfather was a butcher) and have started to fill a blank book with veganized versions of old recipes, although I’ve got a long way to go there.

    Love the photos!

  2. As a Vegan I’ve found the Internet to be the best place to find new ways to cook veggies. I’ve never tried any of the vegan alternatives, since I don’t have the money to spend on prepared foods of any kind. Luckily I love salad, so that helps. So far this week I’ve gone to the library 3 times. It’s a great way to read and not have to buy. I love your money-saving ideas! 🙂

  3. Love the suggestions for getting cookbooks on the cheap! I also find my bookshelves overflowing. And one other thought about the libraries: if you have a Kindle, lots of libraries have books you can check out, which is an easy way to preview a cook (if you’re thinking about buying it!)

  4. You left out my favorite place for get books,

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