Where to Get Old Magazines for Free or Cheap

Whether you’re looking to add to your collection or just looking for a unique gift, there are several places where you can get old magazines. Prices vary depending on a variety of factors, including age, popularity, and condition. Collectible magazines will certainly cost more than less desirable ones, and vintage magazines usually more than newer ones. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to break the bank. In this article, you’ll find out where to get old magazines, including places to bid on them, pay outright for them, and even snag some for free.

Where to Get Old Magazines for Free or Cheap

There are several options when it comes to finding old magazines, including shopping online and in person. Below, we’ve compiled the list of places where you can get old magazines.

1. eBay

  • For free or for sale: Sale
  • What it is: eBay has become the go-to place to buy and sell all things vintage, including old magazines. eBay offers vintage magazines and out of print magazines as well as back issues of contemporary magazines. Keep in mind that eBay consists of private individuals posting their own items for sale, so you need to read each listing closely and view the photographs provided by the seller to verify the condition of the magazine(s) you’re thinking of purchasing.
  • Find: eBay offers a wide variety of magazines, both contemporary and vintage for sale. When shopping for magazines on eBay you can customize your search by publication year, magazine name, subject, or the condition of the magazine. Prices depend upon a variety of factors, such as the age and condition of the magazine, and will vary greatly from magazine to magazine and even seller to seller. Some magazines don’t have a purchase price and instead offer you the chance to bid on the item. If there aren’t many bidders, you may be able to bid low and get a great deal.

2. Estate Sales

  • For free or for sale: Sale
  • What it is: Estate sales often occur in the event of death, divorce, bankruptcy, or moving. Whatever the motive may be, if there is an estate sale taking place in your area, then there will be a large number of items for sale. Oftentimes, you can find vintage magazines or contemporary issues at these sales, especially if the owner was a subscriber or collector. Prices at estate sales are usually higher than at garage sales, so be prepared for a higher asking price. If the sale is winding down, you can try putting in a lower offer and see if the owner is interested in negotiating.
  • Find: You can find estate sales by watching out for signs in your area, checking your local paper, or using a website like EstateSales.net to search for estate sales by zip code.

3. Garage Sales

  • For free or for sale: Both
  • What it is: Garage sales are a great place to find old magazines for cheap. If the magazines are collectible, meaning in great condition and feature big news stories or pop culture icons such as Marilyn Monroe or Elvis Presley, then the owner will likely be asking a decent amount of money for it. However, if you’re looking for recent back issues of popular magazines like People or Cosmopolitan, you just might be in luck. Many magazine subscribers sell their back issues for anywhere from less than a dollar each to a few dollars for a stack. If the sale is winding down and the owner still has a large stack of magazines, he or she will likely be willing to negotiate the price and may even offer some for free. Keep in mind that if you’re looking for magazines to collect or resell, many garage sale magazines will have the subscriber’s information blacked out or cut out and there will possibly be a black mark or a missing rectangle on the bottom right-hand corner of the magazine cover.
  • Find: Garage sales are popular during spring and summer months when the weather is agreeable and people are in spring cleaning mode. Find garage sales near you by watching for signs in your neighborhood, checking your local paper, and watching any community websites or social media pages. You may also browse websites such as Garage Sale Finder to look up garage sales by zip code.

4. Online Collectibles Stores

  • For free or for sale: Sale
  • What it is: There are several online stores that are dedicated to vintage sales and these often include magazines. While contemporary magazines might be a little harder to come by, old magazines are often available on these collectibles sites. Like with most magazine purchases, the prices will vary depending upon a number of factors such as the age, condition, and popularity of the magazine you are looking for.
  • Find: The following online retailers sell old magazines:

5. Thrift Shops

  • For free or for sale: Sale
  • What it is: Thrift shops accept donations of gently used, sellable items like clothing, furniture, books, and toys. They also sometimes accept old magazines if they are in good condition. You can likely find recent back issues of contemporary magazines, but don’t count on finding any rare or collectible editions. It’s not impossible, but most people donate items that they were unable to sell themselves.
  • Find: You can keep an eye out for local stores in your area or search by zip code via an online site like TheThriftShopper.com.

6. Used Book Stores

  • For free or for sale: Sale
  • What it is: Used bookstores sell previously-owned books at discounted prices. They usually offer a variety of recent releases and best sellers with older classics and vintage editions, and many of them also sell comic books and, in some cases, magazines.
  • Find: You can find used bookstores in your area by searching online using your location. You can also ask friends and family if they are aware of any used bookstores in the area.

7. Waiting Rooms and Lobbies

  • For free or for sale: Free
  • What it is: Many businesses including medical offices, insurance offices, spas and salons, hotels, and professional buildings often provide magazines for you to read while you wait. They are usually back issues of contemporary magazines and often follow the theme of the business. So for medical offices, think health magazines, for spas and salons, think fashion and style magazines. Usually, these places don’t mind if you take a magazine with you. Sometimes they even post signs encouraging you to help yourself. If you’re unsure, feel free to ask the receptionist or lobby attendant.
  • Find: Several of your local businesses likely have waiting rooms or lobbies where they offer magazines, including doctors’ offices, dentists’ offices, hospitals, hotel lobby areas, salons and spas, and professional buildings.

In Summary

Now you know where to get old magazines for free or cheap. You don’t have to break the bank to get old magazines. Websites like eBay offer you the chance to browse by category to find just what you’re looking for and buy it outright or in some cases try to bid for it. Garage sales, estate sales, thrift shops, and used bookstores are all great places to stop in and see if you can find any good deals. These places often require taking some time to sift through multiple boxes or crates of magazines, but if you find a good deal, it’s time well spent. If you don’t have any luck locally, you can turn to online stores which offer a variety of vintage magazines. Another option is to visit local businesses and browse the magazines in their lobbies and waiting areas. These magazines are often free to take so if you find a back issue you missed, you can take it home with you.

If you have some old magazines that you’re wanting to get rid of to make space for your new purchases, you may be interested in our article about places to sell old magazines. If you’d like to get old books as well as old magazines, you may want to read our article about if you can buy books from the library. If newspaper would better fit your project, here’s where to get free newspaper.

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