The first place to look is at library book sales. The East Lansing, Delta Township, DeWitt, Mason, Haslett and downtown Capital Area District Library branch all have ongoing sales in permanent stores within their libraries. Check library websites for times and locations.
Libraries generally have sales in the fall and spring. The best way to learn about times, dates and locations is to check with the website booksalefinder.com.
Grand Ledge Library and St. Johns Library both hold library sales the third weekend of the month; Grand Ledge’s is on Fridays and Saturday, St. Johns’ is on Saturday mornings. The most recent listings also show Delta Township Library will host its semi-annual book clean out on Aug. 22-23.
Also be sure to check out the semi-annual Mid Michigan Antiquarian Book and Paper Show at the Lansing Center Oct. 5. The show is managed by Ray Walsh, the proprietor of Archives Book Shop and Curious Book Shop in East Lansing. Walsh likes to point out that the nearly 1 million books on sale at the show include pricey collectibles but also lowpriced reading copies.
Some of the best sources for used and cheap books are area thrift shops where you can pick up books starting at four books for $1. Included on that list are local Salvation Army, Goodwill, Volunteers of America, St. Vincent DePaul and Value Land World Mission stores. Not to be forgotten is the MSU Surplus Store on the campus of Michigan State University where each Tuesday and Friday at least 15 carts of books are put up for sale for $1 or $2 a book. Books range from textbooks to bestsellers and come primarily from donations.
Lansing’s two local Schuler Books & Music stores also offer extensive collections of quality used books, sometimes including bestsellers at half price.
For those with e-readers, classics and other books outside copyright protection can often be downloaded for free. If you don’t mind subscribing, there are also hundreds of thousands of books available for as little as $10 a month from sites such as Scribd, Oyster and Kindle Unlimited. It’s worth trolling Amazon for free or low cost e-books that are offered as promotional items. One website with a free subscription is Bookbub, which will email you titles of e-books that are discounted or free. Julia Glass’ “Three Junes” was offered for $1.99 as an e-book recently. There are also random niche sites such as Open Culture, which recently offered nine books by Noam Chomsky online for free.
But the best way to find free books is from a friend, or borrowed from your local library where you pay for unlimited use of books through millage. But remember to return them promptly and in good condition.