Sunday, December 31, 2017

How to Support a Reading Habit Without Going Broke

I have always loved to read.  I can remember being excited about starting first grade because FINALLY I'd learn to read for myself.  I was one of those kids who took to reading like a duck to water; once it "clicked" a few weeks into the school year I was off and running and way ahead of my classmates.  I was reading chapter books by Carolyn Haywood by the end of year and I never looked back.  We were in Turkey at that time and didn't have a TV so that meant if I wanted escapist entertainment, it was coming from print, not a screen.

Over the years I've found a variety of ways to keep myself in reading material without breaking the bank and today I'm going to share some with you:

The Public Library

Most towns have one, and if yours does not, a nearby town will probably let you use theirs even if there is a yearly fee.  While the number, quality and variety of books available depends on the system, generally you can find something to read at the library even if you are on the waiting list for the latest best-seller.

One big recent change for public libraries is that many now provide e-books that can be downloaded and read on your tablet or Kindle.  My library uses Overdrive and many of the books are borrowed from Amazon.  

One thing many libraries (or their Friends of the Library club) do is sell discarded library books or donated books the library does not want to keep.  You get to provide money to update the library while obtaining books you can keep at a low cost.

Little Free Libraries

Little Free Libraries are boxes built by individuals or groups that provide shelter for books people want to swap or give away.  The operate on the idea of leaving a book when you take a book.  You can find one near you here.  

EBook Freebies

The major ebook sites like Amazon and Google Books offer free books constantly.  Some are permanently free--authors will offer the first book in a series at no cost to hook you into the series, hoping you will pay for successive books.  Others are backlist offerings from authors hoping to entice you to buy their current, often new, books.  The classics are also often free. 

Book Swapping Sites

Websites like Bookmooch allow you to swap unwanted books for books you want to have.  Instead of using money to purchase books, you use points.   When you join Bookmooch, you a point for entering your list of giveaway books. With that point, you can "mooch" a book from someone else's list.  Each book someone "mooches" earns you a point; each book you receive from someone costs you a point.  Users pay to mail books to the recipients, and since books can be send via media mail, the per item cost is about $2.50.

One big advantage of book swap sites is that they allow you to de-clutter as you go; saving someone the hassle of dealing with it after you are too old to do so.  

Become a Book Blogger

Book Bloggers are bloggers who write about books, and publishers make review copies available to many bloggers.  The best way to learn about book blogging is by reading book blogs, and you can find a lot of them by clicking through to the bloggers who link up on memes like Mailbox Monday or It's Monday, What Are You Reading.  Those meme posts will also give you an idea of where bloggers and getting their review books.

Some publishers have review programs and there are tour groups out there but today, most review books are distributed in ebook form via NetGalley and Edelweiss.  Bloggers register, and then request desired books.  Publishers decide whether or not to approve based on a number of factors including past history with the blogger.

To get started as a book blogger, write reviews of what you are reading, whether a purchased book or a library book.  After you have been writing for a couple of months, register with NetGalley and Edelweiss and then start requesting books.

What are your favorite free or inexpensive sources of reading material? 


  1. Happy New Year!
    Reading is on my list of things to do daily this year.
    We love our public library. My husband spent several thousand on "cloud" books several years ago. Now he suggests new books to the library and often gets them within a few weeks on his kindle. I have yet to find a book they are not willing to buy for us.

  2. Wish we had a Little Library near me. I have several books I'd be happy to trade. Our library offers ebooks and I LOVE it. I have a tendency to forget about due dates, so it helps me keep overdue fines low.

  3. We have a great public library and like yours, ours also provides ebooks. I've also taken advantage of some free ebooks on Amazon. But I think one of the best ways to read for free is to swap books directly with friends and neighbors.