Do you remember your first favorite book that you were able to read all by yourself? Mine was "Ann Likes Red" but I quickly moved on to better and bigger books. Reading has been my favorite pastime for my entire life. Luckily, as hobbies go, reading can be relatively inexpensive. Below are some ways readers can save:
Use Your Library
Public libraries today are far more diverse than they once were, so before saying "the library wouldn't carry that kind of book", check. No, they won't carry extremely graphic erotica or pornography, but they will carry books featuring people of color, books from various religious traditions and books about people with varying sexual indentities and expressions. Libraries in larger cities will often have a better selection than ones in small towns, but even in small towns, inter-library loan is often available. The main problem with libraries is that if you want to read the latest best-seller you may be on a long waiting list. Don't forget, your library probably offers more than hard copies of books. This article talks about modern public libraries.
Shop Garage Sales
Especially if you like romance novels, garage sales can be a great way to pick up books inexpensively. Lots of people buy books and eventually most people get tired of keeping them.
Your Library Used Book Sale
Many libraries have yearly (or more often) sales where they sell their discards along with donated books they do not want to add to their collection. This can be a great source for books that were popular a year or two ago, since the library no longer needs all its copies of the book, and they probabaly have donated copies too.
Used Book Stores
Many used bookstores allow you to trade your old books for "new" old books. Amazon allows you to sell your books through them, but you have to package and ship them. Used book stores are a way to get rid of books you no longer want and a way to get books you do want.
Most of the classics are available free from Amazon as e-book downloads. Amazon also has thousands of other free e-books. Some are the first in a self-published series, clearly designed to give you enough of a taste so that you want to buy the rest of (or at least next book in) the series. Sometimes established authors will offer a book from their backlist free not long before a new book is released. While there is a lot of trash to wade through, you can probably find something to pass a pleasant afternoon if you try. This list will give you the current 100 best selling free books on Amazon. When I checked the list it included a book by Bella Andre and one by Kristen Heiztmann. G.K. Chesterton also had one on the list. The rest of it was dominated by what appears to be self-published romance novels but it can't hurt to take a look. There are several services that send you daily newsletters about Amazon freebies. Robin Reads is one of them.
Book Swapping Services
Bookmooch and Paperback Swap are two of the most popular swapping services. Once you register on the site, you list books you are willing to give away. Members are able to search the inventory for books they want, or they can create wishlists. When someone wants a book you own, you mail (and pay postage) the book to them, and get credit in return. You use that credit to order books other people offer, and they pay to mail them to you. I find these services to be a good place to get assigned summer reading books--"everyone" around here wants a copy so the library runs out of copies; yet the books are popular enough that there are lots of used ones floating around other places. The cost to mail one book is a little over $2.00, so you can compare that price to buying used on Amazon or other places.
Become a Book Blogger
If you like to read and to write, you may want to consider becoming a book blogger. You can set up a free blog on Blogger or Wordpress.com and start to review books you read, whatever the source. Participate in a few weekly link-ups like Mailbox Monday or Its Monday, What Are You Reading and people will discover you. Make sure your blog has your contact information and eventually, review requests will come. My book blog is called This That and the Other Thing.
You can also sign up with book review groups. Here are a few:
- Blogging for Books is a Penguin Random House service. Bloggers can request books in a variety of genres and once they post a review, they can request another.
- Booklook Bloggers is for Harper Collins Christian books. They require that bloggers have at least 30 subscribers and they provide free hard copies or ebooks for review.
- Litfuse organizes blog tours for Christan books. Bloggers who particpate in a tour receive a free book. In return, they publish the tour materal and, usually, their own review.
- iRead Book Tours is another company that organizes book tours.
- Bostick Communication is used a lot by self-published authors. They send out emails about books that are availble for review and bloggers can request copies.
Besides those services which offer a rather limited number of books, there are two large sources of e-galleys, NetGalley and Edelweiss. Most of these are released prior to the publication date of the book, and before the last editing has been done. Nevertheless, differences between these books and the final copies are relatively insignificant, and you would probably only notice it if you did a page-by-page comparision of the two (I did this with a book relevant to one of my cases at work and a few things were re-arranged but the content was pretty much the same).
With both NetGalley and Edelweiss, bloggers register for the service and complete a profile. They are then able to browse the available books (right now NetGalley has 5266 books available and Edelweiss has 5143). While a few are auto-approved, most of the books are set so that you have to request to review them. The publisher reviews your application and decides whether to approve you, or not. I'm hardly a big-time book blogger but I find that the overwhelming majority of my requests are approved.
While bloggers are not required to review books from these services, failing to review many of the books you request may result in few approvals for books you want to read.
The final way book bloggers can get free review copies is through publicists or authors. If you have contact information available on your blog, the publicists may find you. If you participate in the book haul link-ups and you see a blogger getting books you would like, it is ok to ask who sent them--but some bloggers are tight-lipped about their sources. On the other hand, the book haul link-ups (Mailbox Monday, It's Monday, What Are You Reading, Stacking the Shelves etc.) can give you leads on other ways to obtain review copies.
One terrific thing about reading is that it doesn't have to cost a fortune. What are some ways you reduce the costs of your favorite pastimes?