Thursday, January 17, 2013

Finding Inexpensive or FREE Books

Last week, I shared a list of books that I hope to read this year. As I wrote my list, I got to thinking about how expensive a reading habit can be, especially if you like reading the latest titles to hit the shelves.

Honestly, I can't really afford to buy new books at this stage of life. We spend an insane amount of money every semester to buy my husband's required law school books. If I'm going to read for fun, I have to keep it FREE or at the very least, really cheap.

If I'm in a mood to read a book that someone has recommended or am just browsing for something new, here's what I do.

Try the local library first.
Yes, I know this isn't a great revelation but it's still one worth sharing. Most libraries have websites that allow you to search their catalog, find out a title's availability, and put in a hold request. I do this regularly from the comfort of my own home. I've usually got a little one with me, so it is WONDERFUL to have the books I want waiting for me a the circulations desk when I get there.

If your library doesn't already own a particular title that you're interested in, you're not totally out of luck. Many libraries will see if they can get it for you through an inter-library loan OR possibly purchase it for their collection if you make a request. Sure, they might not be able to do it, but it doesn't hurt to ask.

Also, it is a title you think you might want to own, see if the library has it for sale. Most libraries have a section where they sell donated books for dirt cheap. I know that my local library sells books for $0.25-$1.00. You might have to dig, but you just might find a jewel that you can add to your bookshelf at home.

Try getting a FREE or CHEAPER copy on a digital device.
I have an old-school Kindle with a keyboard. Brett bought it for me back in the days before law school when we had a dependable income. And boy, have I given that thing a workout! Although I love reading a REAL book, being able to download a Kindle book in just moments from home is a nice thing. Kindles have dropped significantly in price -- the cheapest Kindle you can get is only $69 -- a far cry from the $139 we paid a couple of years ago.

But, even if you don't have a Kindle (or if it is not in the budget), you can download a Kindle Reading App to use with your Android phone or table, iPad, iPhone, Mac, Windows 8 PC or tablet, Blackberry or Windows phone! I discovered this last year when I was bored at my daughter's swim lesson and had left my kindle at home. I downloaded the app and was able to access all of my Kindle books right on my phone. Awesome!

So, how do you get FREE kindle books, you ask? Well, if it's an out-of-copyright, pre-1923 book, it might be as simple as searching the title in the Kindle Store. Amazon also has some great information on Free Book Collections that you might want to check out. If you don't have a specific book in mind, you might want to:
  • Check out the Top 100 FREE Kindle books. On your Kindle, go to the Kindle Store, select "Kindle Bestsellers" and navigate to "Top 100 FREE." Of course, you need to pay attention because sometimes a book will be listed there and the price has changed from $0.00 to an actual price OR sometimes the books are only free with Amazon Prime membership.
  • Check out Jungle Deals & Steals. This website lists free Kindle books everyday at 10am.

I also want to mention that oftentimes the Kindle version of a book is cheaper than a paperback or hardback version of a book. Even then, sometimes the Kindle version goes on SALE too! Case in point, I wanted to read Love Does by Bob Goff because a few different friends of mine recommended it. Well, my library didn't carry it, and I checked Amazon to see the price. I must have checked it out at just the right time because I got the Kindle version for just $1.99. It must have been on sale because normally the Kindle version is over $8 and the paperback is over $10.

Try borrowing from a friend. Facebook can help!
When all the above fails, try borrowing it from a friend. If I need something, I've found that Facebook can be an easy way to get the word out quickly. Once when we couldn't get a babysitter, Brett posted it on Facebook and a friend volunteered within 15 minutes. Of course, you've got to find a local friend who has the book you want, but it is definitely worth a shot.

How do you find books for cheap or free?


Joanne S. said...

Awesome!! I LOVE my Kindle too!! ;)Thanks for the link to Jungle Deals & Steals.

Another great site is The Vessel Project at It offers free and discounted Christian eBooks for both Kindle and NOOK. I've gotten soooo many great books in the few weeks since I found them. They are also on facebook, so you can click right through their links each time they post a new book.

*Hugs* for your beautiful girls!!

Mandi @ Life Your Way said...

Thanks for including Jungle Deals & Steals on your list, Janel!

Too funny about Love Does -- I happened to pick it up at $1.99 too. Now I'm in the habit of checking my wishlist often to catch other deals!

Janel said...

Joanne, thanks for the tip. I'll have to check The Vessel Project! Hope you and the kiddos are enjoying your new place! Miss you friend!

Mandi, I was happy to be able to mention your site. It's very cool! :)