Black Friday Book Haul (Plus FAQs re: The BookOutlet)

Thursday, December 8, 2016
The BookOutlet, you guys. It's my weakness. On normal days their books run 50 - 80% off list price which is hard enough to resist, but then you add in their annual Black Friday sale of an additional 30% off. If my credit card had eyes, it would cry at the damage I do. (Yo, I should get paid for this promo. Hit me up BookOutlet.)

So the day after Thanksgiving, I kind of sort of ordered twentyone books. Yeah.

In my defense, my husband's a reader! They're not all mine!

Someone Could Get Hurt by Drew Magary
Self Inflicted Wounds by Aisha Tyler
The De-Textbook by Cracked
Secret Six: Friends in Low Places by Gail Simone
Gotham City Sirens: Union by Paul Dini
Ex Machina: The First Hundred Days by Brian K. Vaughan

Just...mostly mine.

The Hidden Staircase by Carolyn Keene
The Mystery at Lilac Inn by Carolyn Keene
Past Perfect by Leila Sales
Stars Above by Marissa Meyer
My True Love Gave to Me ed. Stephanie Perkins
Summer Days and Summer Nights ed. Stephanie Perkins
The Scrivener's Bones by Brandon Sanderson
The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
Hunt for the Hydra by Jason Fry
Curse of the Iris by Jason Fry
Reality Boy by A.S. King
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick
The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Batgirl: Deadline by Gail Simone

I'm weak! So very weak for pretty covers and the idea of a sale. Four are ARCs I wanted finished copies of and I've read Nancy eight hundred thousand times, but ten are brand new to me.

So weak.

So I know some of you are asking, what is The BookOutlet and how can you buy 21 books for $85? Well TBO is just that: an outlet store for books. They promise the books are not knock offs. They're not used. They didn't fall off the back of a truck. Product ordering is a tricky business and large chains often end up with extra stock. They return them to the publishers who mark them with a dot and then sell them at a reduced price to outlet stores.

That means if you are dedicated to 100% pristine books, this is not the sale for you. While TBO (is supposed to, read on,) mark the obviously damaged books as "Scratch and Dent" and discount them even farther, as stock that's sat on a few shelves, I do notice more wear and tear to corners and dust jackets than the average B&N shipment. The damage ranges from the very minor to the "I won't be front facing this one", with one exception I want to tackle separately.

Banged up dust jacket
Someone tried to peel off the Printz sticker
Dirt above and below author name, visible crease to both jacket and book corner.
For what I paid? Not a deal breaker for me, but I do see TBO advertising $30 special editions for $13 and I have to say, that's not a deal I would take knowing their general quality.

On the other hand, especially the very new titles like Summer Days and Summer Nights, some books are absolutely pristine. Alcatraz's spine is so tight and crisp I don't believe it's ever been out of the shipping box. Luck of the draw.

Now, my exception. This copy of Self-Inflicted Wounds is not new.

It just is not. The book was released in 2013. The pages should not be so discolored from normal shelf wear. The spine is loose and broken in two spots. 

The back is seriously scratched, (above her head, across her shoulders, and across her stomach reaching all the way to the blurbs,) and there are obvious ink or paint marks. Those didn't come from sitting on a B&N shelf. The book is not marked as scratch and dent and I did not get a S&D discount. Plus, I'm a former librarian. I have glued down so many dust jackets you guys. Guess what this book has? 

That would be the most damning piece of evidence in and of itself, except something fell out while I was photographing it.

Yep. Not only did TBO sell me a used book, explicitly against their own policies, THEY FORGOT TO TAKE THE LIBRARY CHECKOUT SLIP OUT BEFORE SENDING IT TO ME.

I can probably forget about you hitting me up for a sponsorship now that that's out, eh?

Now, the book was $2.09 after the sale price. I'm not going to return it. It is in readable condition and I shop plenty of library sales myself. This is the first time this has happened to me. But I sat down to write a really positive review and I now have to include that while TBO promises the books are new, I can no longer make the same guarantee to my readers.

So you want to take the plunge anyway? Awesome! How does the process compare to ordering from Amazon or Barnes and Noble? Well shipping can take awhile. My package showed up 11/30. Jessie, who ordered the same day as me, still doesn't have hers, 9 days later. I've had orders take the better part of a month - it really seems random. There's only one warehouse, unlike Ammy, so everything is shipped in one box. That can be good and bad, like perhaps if your UPS driver is a lazy fuck who doesn't want to carry 21 pounds of books up three flights of stairs so he lies and says he did and then you have to take a day off work to yell at customer service.  I do know a few people who have gotten the wrong books in shipments. This hasn't happened to me in five orders, but it's also something I don't discount. But then Amazon mailed me crack spoons, so whatever. Shipping is a fucking nightmare everywhere.

As an outlet store, just like you can't expect to walk into Coach with a specific bag in mind, TBO sales work best if you have time to browse. You might notice Nancy Drew #2 and #4 in my haul. Last year I bought #1 and #3 in the same sale. Stock obviously depends and rotates quickly. I've put books that say they have 100+ copies in my cart, only to be greeted with an out of stock notice moments later. The site search is also kind of a nightmare and their category browsing is laughable at best.

All of this basically boils down to: I love a sale. I will keep buying from TBO on Black Friday and Christmas in July. Whether you want to or not is going to be highly individualized depending on your feelings about cosmetic damage. But let me again stress the most beautiful words in the English language: two dollar hardcover book.

So that's my pre-Christmas haul and also a little review of the process itself. Let's talk books - which have you read, which should I start first, and which did I buy that you wouldn't even pay $2.09 for. Let me know in the comments below.


  1. I've never actually purchased anything through The Book Outlet but I've heard the raving about their awesome sales. Really good to know about the non-pristine possibility... I'm not super into making sure my books are perfect since 9 out of 10 books I purchase are used so it is what it is. But really good to know! :)

    1. Dani's book is I think the rare outlier. Just make sure you are aware of when you're buying "scratch & dent" copies versus "new" and I think Book Outlet will be soon taking all your money, too ;)


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