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How to save money on French tools
I review a lot of French products for this site, from books to CDs, and I’m aware that they can be expensive. As a die-hard Francophile, I tend to cut other corners in order to be able to afford the very best French tools, but since that’s not always possible, I’ve come up with this list of tips to help you find your “must have” French supplies at the best possible prices. If you have other money-saving tips, please comment below and I’ll add them to this article.
The online giant sometimes comes through in Anglophone countries. New books usually have some discount off the cover price, and there’s a low threshold for free shipping. There might also be a few used copies available from sellers, which can be hit or miss – pay attention to the condition of the book and the seller’s rating, and don’t forget about shipping fees.
Ebooks are generally cheaper than new hard copies, and much easier to carry with you everywhere.
Buy from France
If you’re buying a product that is actually produced in France, it’s often cheaper, even with overseas shipping charges, to buy it directly from a French store rather than buying it from a store in the US or wherever. Keep a list of items you want and order them all at the same time to minimize shipping fees. I find that Amazon.fr is a good source for French books and software.
If you don’t mind older editions, used bookstores and charity shops sometimes have dictionaries and grammar books at a fraction of the cost. Also, in France I’ve picked up some nice little books for a euro or two at vide-greniers (garage/yard sales) and marchés aux puces (flea markets).
If you have money in two or more currencies, you can sometimes save quite a bit depending on which one you pay with. For example, I was ordering software from a company in France and was planning to use my American credit card (which doesn’t charge foreign exchange fees, something else to keep in mind). But then I noticed that the price was 15% more than the price in euros, because the company was using an inflated exchange rate.
If you purchase a CD, there’s often a shipping charge, so whenever possible, save money by ordering software by downloading or with an online subscription.
Regular searches for those items that are just too expensive anywhere else can reveal some terrific deals. I once purchased a new book for $14, including shipping, that has a list price of $73. The cheapest I could find anywhere else was a used copy for $22 plus shipping.
It’s not as handy as owning the item, but libraries sometimes have dictionaries and other tools that you just can’t afford on your own.
Consider “timesharing” a big ticket item with one or more friends. An audiomagazine, for example, could be used by each “owner” for a week or two before it gets passed on to the next member, and then a new issue will be along before you know it. Or create a study group and listen together.
If you’re not concerned about having the up-to-the-second latest edition, see if a previous edition is available (at Amazon, eBay, etc). It will be considerably cheaper.
On occasion, I’ve found that publishers offer their products on their own sites cheaper than any retailer.
Get together with French-loving friends and classmates to swap books that you no longer need for ones you do.
Check out college and university bookstores for used textbooks, dictionaries, novels, etc.