I made a stop at a brick-and-mortar Books-a-Million today and noticed they had a lot of clearance/remainder bins set up down the center aisle. I also had to avoid the towering stacks of the new Jean M. Auel book (I've decided, I'm not reading it until I know whether or not it's the last one in the series) so I went to investigate. Along with the usual remaindered/bargain books they had a lot of products on sale: journals, audio books, reader and writer gifts, DVDs and leftover seasonal items.
There seemed to be a lot more discount- and remainder-priced hardcovers this time in the clearance bins (this is addition to the enormous selection they regularly stock on their bargain table section.) I saw some novels that have just recently come out in paperback, but even more older titles that probably represent the publisher's pre-OOP stock. They had a range of prices on them from $5.97-$3.00, with most on the lower end of the pricing scale. If you prefer hardcover copies but can't afford them at release price, you might want to browse the bins and see if some of your favorite authors and titles are there.
BAM doesn't always put all their discounted products in bins, btw. Bookmarks that are marked down are kept on the bookmark racks, probably to prevent them from getting bent or torn up. Almost every time I visit BAM I can get at least two or three types of fancy bookmarks regularly priced $2.95 and up for 50% off; occasionally they will discount them down to $1.00.
Discounted audio books, fancy blank books and movie DVDs are probably the best values, as new they can be quite pricey. But while I'm happy to stock up on journals I'm always a bit leery of the other two, especially if the boxes are dented or banged up. If you're shopping for books or movies look for intact boxes that are still shrink-wrapped so you don't end up with discs that have been chipped, broken or partly pilfered.
The biggest steal of all was a bin filled with these little box kits by Running Press. Regularly priced from $5.95-$8.85, they were all marked down to $2.00. A few were in bad shape and a couple were leaking questionable content (in three cases, sand, soap powder, and little bits of metal) but most were intact and in good to new shape.
I love these kits because they make great motivational gifts for family and friends as well as nice little rewards for me when I get through a tough week. They did manage to fit a cute sampling of Paris in Paris in a Box -- more gag than substance, but I'm putting out everything in the guest room for the next time the Euro kid visits. The Classic Art of Calligraphy kit actually came with everything a first-time aspiring calligrapher would need to test their lettering skills (pen, ink, practice paper and a quickie guide book.) I might have to go back and buy a few more boxes of The Answer Deck, a mini-spin on the Tarot, which contained cards that double nicely as character and plot inspiration (tonight after I finish my editing I think I'll open up The Elemental Spa, run a tub and get in touch with my air, fire, earth and water sides.)
I am frustrated with the brick and mortars in my area -- not that we had that many to begin with. The only indy bookstores within an hour driving time for me are Christian-only, rare/antique or USBs. Now that the only Borders left has closed due to the bankruptcy, I'll have to start making a pilgrimage to the only Barnes & Noble left. It's an hour away, though, and with fuel prices climbing the way they are I probably won't visit unless I have to go to that city for other reasons, which averages about two or three trips a year. I don't want to be reduced to ordering strictly online, so BAM (which has two nice big stores only thirty minutes away) will continue to get the lion's share of my book-buying business.
I'm curious, from where are you guys buying the majority of your hardcover and paperback books these days? Are you still trying to get out to the stores, or are gas prices forcing you to order more online? Let us know in comments.