14 November 2010

In Which I Gloat About Cheap Books

I'm slowly learning that everything can be had for a bargain.  Paying sticker price is rarely either a good idea or your only option.  There are some days that this goes better than others.  For instance, I shoot for an average 10% coupon rate at the grocery store, but that means that I range anywhere from about 4% to my all time high of 17%.

Today, though, I'm pretty sure I got one of my best deals ever on books.  I purchased three books (not all for me) which were list prices of $29.99, $15.00, and $15.00, or $59.99 total.  At least, that's what they would have been in the bookstore...

I do a lot of my shopping online; it makes it easier to compare prices, make calmer decisions, and to walk away from an item I'm not 100% sold on.  Knowing that I wanted to purchase these books, I turned to online retailers to see what kind of a deal I could get.  I settled on Barnes & Noble because I had a gift card and because I almost always have a coupon.  Amazon rarely sends out coupons and Barnes & Noble has been on a successful push to narrow the online price gap (the difference in totals came out to a few cents and I don't remember in whose favor).

Just for shopping online, the prices of the books are $16.43, $8.72, and $10.59, or $35.74 total.  That's already a 40% discount, just for clicking the mouse instead of wasting gas money!  The other great thing about internet shopping is how savvy people have thought of so many smart ways to use the web.  So even though the most recent email coupon I had from Barnes & Noble was expired, I just Googled "Barnes & Noble coupon", and voila, coupon codes!  In this case from Retail Me Not, which had a 25% off one item code.  After putting that in, my final total was $31.63, a  47% discount.  Could it get better?  Oh yeah.

The piece de resistance is that I had a $11.14 gift card from returning a book I purchased a few months ago and decided I would never get around to reading in my recent book elimination efforts (new post on that coming soon!).  Because I made a smart choice in trading in a book I wouldn't read, I paid $11.14 less than the discounted price for books I will read.  It hardly seems worth mentioning that the credit card I used to finish the transaction gives me 5% back on book purchases (I will, of course, pay off the balance just as soon as the transaction clears and my books arrive).

Even after factoring in taxes, and we all know lower sales price means less sales tax, I paid $21.56 for what should have been a $64.19 purchase.  I saved myself 66% off the sticker price.  Not too shabby, if I do say so myself!

Could I have done better?  Believe it or not, yes!  If I had a Barnes & Noble Membership I could have saved another 10% off the discounted price (saving about another $3, or 5% overall).  I could also have purchased a discounted gift card to use on the purchase.  I could have gotten my purchase price below $15 if I had really wanted to, and honestly, I'm kicking myself a little bit that I didn't.  But not too hard.  Because you have to admit, 66% off is a pretty awesome discount.


  1. I LOVE RetailMeNot. Do you do eBates? You could have gotten 8% cash back on your purchase as well. If you don't do eBates, here's a link (in all honesty that will give me a referral bonus if you use it to sign up): http://www.ebates.com/rf.do?referrerid=4kw7UwTHYKEUmwXhtqFZSg%3D%3D I am now in the habit of shopping, finding what I want, then going to eBates and clicking onto the merchant's site from there. I've earned about $24 in cash back so far.

  2. I've only used RetailMeNot a few times, but so far the experience has been great. I've never heard of eBates, do give details! I would love to help you with a referral bonus. :-)

  3. eBates has apparently partnered with several (many many many several) online merchants. You sign up with eBates, give them your mailing address, and right off the bat you've got a $5 signup bonus. When you search for a merchant you sometimes see coupon offers and always see a cash back percentage. Click on the link on eBates' page, which sends you to the merchant. Do your shopping and checkout, and once your purchase has been processed, the merchant and eBates give you credit for it. I checked Barnes and Noble and the current offer was 8% cash back. Periodically, eBates will mail you a check in the amount of your cash back. So it's cash back on stuff you were going to buy ANYWAY. Combine that with online coupons and if your card of choice offers any type of reward program (we use a Disney Visa) and you are getting "paid" to shop. (I got free shipping with an eBates code and was able to stack a 15% off the purchase coupon code at Kohls.com, for instance.) I'm sure there is some sort of marketing shopping traffic behavior that benefits both eBates and the merchant, otherwise why would they even bother with something like this, right? LOL Also, many times I will shop and load my online cart, then open a new window and click on the merchant through eBates, and quite often my cart contents are there on the eBates link. The only catch is you have to check out through the eBates window, or you don't get credit for your purchase.

  4. By eBates window, I mean the merchant page that opens when you click the link on eBates page, btw. You don't pay through eBates, they just communicate with the merchant that you did make a purchase.

  5. That may be the coolest thing I have ever heard of for shopping online. I know that UPromise does something similar that lets you use the rebate to pay down your student loans (or pay ahead on college plans). But their program is for a bunch of stores I don't use and rarely is better than 2% back. Signing up for eBates today!