Comics on a Budget

When I started reading comics again a few years ago, I knew I had a lot to catch up on. I started a pull-list and began buying trades of all the newer comics that I had been missing out on. Doing this, you quickly realize just how expensive being a regular comics reader can be. Despite the cost adding up, I love comics and I wasn’t about to give them up again so easily – so I did my research, and I started budgeting. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve discovered along the way to help you keep reading comics without breaking the bank:

Discount Bookstores

image source: Washington Post

My introduction to discount bookstores was on a trip to Toronto with my boyfriend. We had seen an ad on the subway the entire weekend for BMV Books, so on our last day in Toronto we slugged our suitcases and ventured to BMV’s Annex location. To our amazement BMV had an entire floor dedicated to comics, graphic novels, anime & manga – of course we ended up spending well over and hour on that floor alone. The the books are in fantastic, often brand-new condition with prices at a 50-90% discount! How AMAZING is that? Every trip to BMV I end up leaving with over a hundred dollars worth of trades for less than half that. It’s gotten to the point that I organize trips to Toronto (an hour or more commute) JUST to go to BMV and stock up.

Now, I know what you’re thinking…but STACEEEEY what if we don’t live near Toronto and can’t go to BMV?! That’s the great thing, chances are you’ll be able to find a second-hand or discount bookstore near you. Even small local second-hand stores are starting to offer a selection of graphic novels and trades, and you’ll likely be able to snag these for similar discounts. If you don’t have a second-hand bookstore near you but you have a bigger thrift store, check them out too! Most thrift stores have a pretty significant book section and you can often find a few comics or graphic novels in the mix.

PRO TIP: Shopping for comics in a discount, second-hand or thrift store takes patience. Most places don’t have the best organization or things have been misplaced by customers so take your time, look around and don’t rush. You never know what you may find!

The Library

image source: LiFO
image source: LiFO

The holy grail – in my opinion. Libraries have been some of my favourite places for most of my life, and why not? They offer you a similar selection to a bookstore but you don’t have to pay to read all those books on your TBR List!

Comics and graphic novels have been somewhat under-represented at most libraries over the years but more and more libraries (even small town ones) have begun stocking comics again; realizing their benefits for children and adults alike. Check out your local library to see what they have to offer when it comes to graphic novels and comics and if you find they don’t offer any comics, or there’s something in particular you’re looking for – let them know! Libraries often take suggestions for what they should be filling their shelves with and chances are you won’t be the only person asking them to stock more comics.

PRO TIP: you will usually find a separate section for them in the Teen/Young Adult area, but check your library’s catalog for graphic novels with more “adult” graphic novels like Saga.

Your Local Comic Shop

image source: The Dragon Web
image source: The Dragon Web

Your local comic shop can be your best friend. Not only do they stock all kinds of trades, single issues, graphic novels and nerdy merchandise but they often have benefits for their regular customers.

Some shops will offer discounts to their customers that maintain a pull list, others will offer their regular customers a discount card a few times a year or on holidays. The types of discounts and perks that come with being a regular at your local comic book shop are endless; it’s always best to check it out yourself. Not to mention, local shops offer a great space to connect with people with similar interests and most shops will offer comic book clubs, gaming nights or special events to their customers for free or a small fee – giving you the opportunity to make new friends and save on more than just your reading material!

Pro Tip: Free Comic Book Day happens every May. This is the best time to head to your local comic book store for deals on comics and of course to pick up a whole bunch of FREE single issue comics put out by all your favourite publishers!

Online Options

image source: iMore
image source: iMore

Now, I’m typically the very passionate “SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL COMIC BOOK SHOP” type person, however I understand and occasionally take advantage of what online retailers may have to offer.

Online offers a lot of options for comics book lovers who are looking to save money, or for those that may not have access to an independent comic book shop – there are online retailers like Amazon.com or Midtown Comics of course, but there are also some other great options out there you may not be aware of.

Comixology

If you prefer to read digitally, or are willing to do so to save money Comixology is the place to go. They are compatible with iOS, Android, Kindle and Google Play; they even offer a selection of free comics so you can see if digital comics are your thing! With Comixology you can set up a subscription (much like a pull list) so you don’t miss issues of your faves but they also offer full collected volumes (trades) as well and since it’s digital the prices are often MUCH cheaper. If you’re not in a rush to read something, wait to see what goes on sale, they have great sales each week in addition to a few bigger sales during the year and you can sometimes even snatch up comics for .99 cents!

– Marvel Unlimited 

Another option for reading digitally. Marvel Unlimited is a monthly subscription that gives you access to just about every Marvel comic you could ever want to read, with new issues being added all the time. The turn over for newer releases tends to be about 6 months (so if you’re looking to read the latest squirrel girl, you likely won’t see her on the app until early next year), but with so many options and so many new runs of your favourite series already up on the app you won’t be at a loss for things to read until then. It’s easy to end up binge reading runs of your favourite character, or series without realizing…believe me I ended up doing this with Captain Marvel. The perfect option for the Marvel fangirl (or guy).

– Scribd

Almost like Marvel Unlimited and Comxiology had a baby. Scribd is another monthly subscription service offering comics from all different publishers including Marvel, IDW, and Archie but you also get access to an entire library of novels and audiobooks as well.

Pro Tip: With online retailers and subscription services always look for coupon codes and discounts. Services like Marvel Unlimited will occasionally offer your first month’s subscription for a penny, or Scribd has affiliations with podcasts and blogs and will offer a free extended trial if you find the personalized link. Do your research and if you can, wait for these promotions to get the most out of your money.

Chain Bookstores

image source: ICv2
image source: ICv2

Once again, while I tend to prefer supporting local shops when I can…I realize that this is not always possible. Chain bookstores like Chapters here in Canada or Barnes & Noble in the States are great places to check out for your comics fix.

Head to chain stores when they’re having sales or during the holidays and you’re likely to walk out with a great deal on any books you pick up. Additionally, if your chain bookstore has a membership you may get benefits like a discount on books all the time or an opportunity to save up points that will get you free books once you reach a certain reward level. When shopping big name bookstores, however, do your research! Sometimes a book may be cheaper on their website, or if they don’t have a book at the store nearest you they may offer the option of ordering it for you or having it shipped to the store for free from their website.

PRO TIP: Bookstores will often have exclusive sales on their websites, sign up for their newsletter or follow them on twitter to stay in the loop.

And there you have it, a few of the tips and tricks I’ve picked up on how to save money when you’re an avid comics reader like me. I’d love to hear any tips you may have for reading comics on a budget, feel free to leave it in the comments below or tweet me!


 

Note: I’m not affiliated with any of the services mentioned above. I have tried these services in the past at my own expense, and have received no compensation for mentioning their services in this post. 

10 thoughts on “Comics on a Budget

  1. Great choices!! I lived within a walk of an awesome local comic book shop in Pittsburgh and it was one of the saddest things about moving to Houston! I haven’t found a local shop that lives up to the awesome-ness that was the little shop in Pittsburgh!

  2. This is good stuff. I had no idea there were subscription services like Comixology and Scribd.

    I would also add that, depending on your library, some libraries also offer free digital versions of comics for checkout through platforms like Hoopla in addition to what they have on the shelves. The variety may be small now but it’s ever expanding, at least in my experience. It’s ALWAYS worth it to ask. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for many libraries can “borrow” it from a different library!

    Great tips!

    1. I was just going to leave a similar comment about libraries offering digital versions of comics and offering inter-library loans! I know that ours does. 🙂

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