The Cheapest Way to Build Your Coffee Table Book Collection

updated Apr 29, 2019
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(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)

I’ve always been a bit of a book hoarder, but recently, my stack of coffee table books alone has begun to rival my collection of novels, biographies, and memoirs. And while the internet often makes it seem like you can’t purchase a gorgeous design manual or two without spending the equivalent of a week’s worth of groceries, that certainly isn’t the case. I’m letting you in on my little money-saving trick: shopping for coffee table books used off of Amazon.

First things first: coffee table books are everywhere. The sheer number of titles available can be somewhat overwhelming—just when I think I’ve heard of every must-have design book, a new one is released and instantly becomes a hit. If you’re a fellow interiors enthusiast and are looking to build a collection from scratch, I recommend starting out with these cult favorites: “Elements of Style: Designing a Home & a Life,” “Styled: Secrets for Arranging Rooms, from Tabletops to Bookshelves,” and, of course, “Apartment Therapy Complete and Happy Home.”

(Image credit: Amazon)

So how have I built up such an extensive collection? If I come across an interesting title while out and about or scrolling through Instagram, I’ll always 1. look up the item on Amazon Prime and then 2. check to see if other Amazon sellers are offering a like-new or gently-used copy for less than the Prime cost. To do this, just look under the Amazon price, where it will say “Used from $9.99” or whatever the price may be.

(Image credit: Photographed by Susie Lowe, Designed by The Pink House)

Note that independent sellers charge separately for shipping, so you’ll want to take that cost in to account before placing a secondhand order. However, if you do some digging and can allow yourself a bit of patience, you’ll be able to amass an impressive library of coffee table books while only paying a fraction of the sticker price. The word “patience” is key given that used books can sometimes take a couple of weeks to arrive, depending on the seller, but the money saved will be so worth it. In a rush? You’ll still likely save some money by placing an order on Prime, where books tend to be relatively affordable and online coupons are frequent.

(Image credit: Amazon)

So, what are some of my best buys as of late? Just last week, I scored a like-new copy of Reese Witherspoon’s “Whiskey in a Teacup” for $11.57, including shipping (compare that to $16.06 on Prime and a $35 sticker price). Earlier in the month, I paid $12.95 total for India Hicks’ “Island Style” (which retails for $27.49 on Prime and has a $45 sticker price—I’d been lusting over this one forever), and spent a total of $3.63 on the adorable “Kaufman Mercantile Guide” (which is being sold on Prime for $22.38 with a similar sticker price). So yes, if you do a bit of searching, you can totally buy a trendy coffee table book for less than the price of actual coffee.

Whether you’re a fan of coffee table books pertaining to travel, decor, or something else entirely, I guarantee you’ll be able to build up an impressive collection if you get a little thrifty. Happy browsing!