Here's how I think about discount children's books...
The less I pay, the more I can afford to buy.
Just because children's books are a necessity, it doesn't mean you should have to pay an arm and a leg.
Let's start with the obvious
You remembered the library, didn't you? I only ask because sometimes I forget. There's a book I need - I search, I order it online - then I remember I could have just gone to the library.
Libraries are pretty much the ultimate in discounted children's books.
I find they're also great for your child's autonomy. When I bring my daughter to a bookstore, the most frequent words out of my mouth are "Put that back."
The library translation of "Put that back" is a much more supportive "That looks interesting."
Happier parent. Happier kid.
Bargain / Closeout / Overstock
Closeouts, also called remainders, are new children's books that children's book publishers have stopped publishing. They have a bunch lying around and they're willing to sell them at a discount in bulk to retailers.
If your closeout provider is a bricks and mortar retailer as well as an internet store - like the one we're about to recommend - there are even more savings possible.
Closeout books can feature a mark - a corner clipped off the cover, a sticker over the original price, etc. - to designate them as such. They're still new, but the publisher might mark them to let you know they're sold as is. No returns.
Local vs. online
Stores that specialize in closeouts are where I like to shop for my new discount children's books. For these stores, discount books are only one small part of what they do.
I've had my best success at Tuesday Morning and Ross Dress For Less (believe it or not). You may do just as well elsewhere. Search yellow pages listings under discount stores and factory outlets.
Of course, if you shop locally for closeouts you're limited to what you come across. If you shop for closeouts online, you can zoom in on the particular discount children's books you're looking for.
Children's book clubs
These children's book clubs are tricky. They tend to be set up so that if you don't tell them not to, they send you books regularly...
And charge you for them.
If you're a well organized person, they can be a good deal because of their generous initial offers. But if you're the kind of person who's going to have trouble remembering to return a postcard or go to the website to say, "Don't send me that!" then the book clubs aren't for you.
And go here if it's your child's teacher or school who would like you to participate in one of the Scholastic Book Clubs.
Discount children's books - Used
I'm a big believer in used books, though maybe as a writer I shouldn't be. After all, children's book writers (and children's book illustrators) don't make money off of resold books.
Of course, the people who make the real money off new children's books are children's book publishers...
And sharing and trading books is a waste-free form of recycling...
And, frankly, the most important entity to me in all this isn't the writers, or the illustrators, it's my child.
So if buying "pre-owned" children's books allows me to supply my child with more reading material, and a slightly more tidy world, then I'm all for it!
Online discount children's books - Used
People are starting to use the internet in some very creative ways in order to share books in general and children's books in particular. It's fascinating enough that I'm going to devote two pages to it.
Local discount children's books - used
Okay, I have a bunch of ideas here for you.
You want discount children's books? Garage sales, yard sales, moving sales - whatever you want to call them - are your best bet.
There's something I've noticed about children: they grow up. They move. Parents sell their books and toys.
Where does all this come together? At a garage sale. Talk about your discounted children's books! What's better than cutting a deal for 5 books for a dollar?
...your local paper now publishes its classified ads online. Searchable by area. Searchable by content.
And because you're looking for discounted children's books - not unrecognized art masterpieces, not antique furniture - you don't have to get there at 5 in the morning!
And these aren't children's book rejects. These are often the classics that book-loving children simply grew out of.
Discount children's books are out there
People don't tend to throw books out. That means they're available to you if you know where to look.
Visit my free kids' books page to find free children's ebooks and such. And check out my children's book sharing page to see how the internet enables you to trade free kids' books with other parents for nothing more than the price of postage - sometimes less!
Now that's a discount children's book.
Best Children's Books - Find, Read or Write home page.