There’s no shortage of books to read, which may then lead to the question of how to stick to your budget? Naturally, there’s nothing wrong with paying more / full price for books, and there are different cases where you’d want to do so. But in the event that bargains (or even hard-to-find titles) are on your mind, these 6 tips came to mind.
I note that while this list is about print books (my preferred reading method), I trust that many of these also have free and/or affordable ebook options.
How right you are, Mr. Darcy 🙂
In order of most affordable (no cost to low cost):
1. Public libraries
Unsurprisingly, an automatic fulfilling way to access print books for free are libraries. Naturally, what’s required is a visit to the location and a membership card, and you’re good to go. With technology increasingly impacting our lives, we may not think of libraries as much as we did in the past, but they remain an amazing resource that should not be forgotten and/or underestimated.
As with any situation, there are factors to consider if this is the right option, such as location, inventory, and borrowing protocols. While borrowing time limits can be intimidating, they can also motivate you to meet your goals (and as I recently heard inspirational figure Brendon Burchard say, studies show that few things push people as much as deadlines!). In any case, libraries seem the surest way of accessing desired titles for free, at least at some point.
^Haha! The man is just amazing 🙂
2. Your network
Another option might be to borrow from friends, coworkers, relatives, etc. especially in the case where they’re recommending a title they happen to own. How feasible that is also all depends on how often you see them, how quickly they need it back, etc.
3. Goodreads giveaways
If you’re a book lover, it goes without saying that you should be on Goodreads. It’s a great lit-oriented platform that has a range of activities that allow you to: create your virtual bookshelves, track what you’ve read and want to read, rate books, write book reviews, discover new books, socialize through joining groups and discussions, create an author page and host book giveaways (if you’re a writer/publisher), and enter free book giveaways.
You’re allowed to enter as many giveaways as you want, and while there’s never any guarantee you’ll win, it’s definitely a possibility. As reference, adding a book to your ‘to-read’ bookshelf will alert you when a giveaway for that book goes live. Even if this option doesn’t yield many (any?) free books, all the other perks are well worth joining the platform.
Another option, which may or may not be connected to Goodreads, is to acquire an Advanced Reader’s Copy of a certain book, aka “ARC”. These are basically pre-publication copies that are sent out to readers who are active on social media, and who intend to read the book and share that experience with their platform(s). The idea is to bring attention to the title in question in a timely manner, and probably close to its publication date for maximum marketing impact.
Publishing houses may have different protocols for requesting ARCs, so you’d want to look these up individually. With that said, a good place to start might be reviewing these tips by All Things Urban Fantasy:
Part 1 – ARC Resources
Part 2 – Requesting ARCs
Part 3 – ARC Protocol
5. Local bookstores, low cost bookstores & used books
One of the top 2 ways that I love getting books is from local bookstores. In addition to supporting independent business, it can contribute to more sustainable practices through buying used books at such locations.
An amazing store I’d highly recommend checking out is Half Price Books! They have both new and used books at reduced prices, as well as Clearance sections which feature books (often brand new!) ranging from $1-$4! I cannot count the many, many hauls I’ve acquired in that way, and though it can feel mind-blowing, it’s greatly contributed to my library, and motivates me to read more. (One great reminder is that books are never a waste either; especially not when you think of all the lovely tomes you’d want to pass on to your kids 😉 )
For other discounted rates, used books via Amazon is another great option. The selection is just unbeatable and also comes in quite handy when you’re looking for hard-to-find titles (which is often a factor for me).
?! bahahahaha 😀
6. College libraries
College libraries are another great resource to consider. While their selection may primarily lean on scholarly and curriculum-appropriate titles, they very often have general fiction and other books–and in several different languages too. (You may also be able to check out their inventory online to assess availability.)
This process would likely entail getting some kind of fee-based ‘Alumni membership’ that would grant borrowing privileges. This option is a great way to access many titles (and possibly hard-to-find and/or very expensive titles, as is often the case with scholarly work!), while supporting educational institutions. Based on your needs and goals, you can consider your own college and/or check out others near you.
Speaking of which: this list shows some gorgeous European-like US libraries, many of which are part of universities; yet another reason to consider checking them out!
As with anything in life, a range of factors will determine where we want to splurge and where we want to cut back. But with several book access options available, reading shouldn’t have to be expensive–especially not if reading, as opposed to book collecting, is one of your primary goals.
One of the side effects of book reading will be determining what to do with the book(s) next. As I’ve gotten older and reflected more about the kind of space I want to be in, I’ve increasingly taken to discarding titles (and other objects) that don’t resonate. In that case, several of the aforementioned options can double as ways to pass them on to other readers.
Cheers to happy reading! 😀