I love to read. I read quite a bit. Even writing that feels like a gross understatement. Reading isn’t just a passion or a hobby or a job for me; it’s my non-human spouse. I read to escape, I read to research, I read for fun, I read for work, I…read. I love words and the different ways they can be combined to create new worlds, characters, and describe feelings so precisely it’s unnerving.
The only problem with being so passionate about reading, other than the people in your life feeling abandoned and feeling jarred out of another state when interrupted, is the cost. Books, those magical portals of wonder, aren’t free.
…Or are they? Here’s how I can afford to read as much as I do. Now before I share these tips, I want to state for the record that I’m a strong supporter of local bookstores, supporting authors by buying their books, and in no way, shape, or form endorse any kind of book stealing.
Due to budget, space, and emotional duress, I only buy books I know I’ll want to re-read. If I’m going to an author signing, I will buy the book I want them to sign gladly. I look at book buying as an experience, and not just a shopping trip. This helps tide me over in between purchases.
The easiest and best way to read without spending a dime is to utilize your local library. Oftentimes you can suggest they purchase a title if you’re searching for a particular one not yet on their shelves, or you can request an inter-library loan. Either way, the odds are good they’ll be able to procure your choice.
My favorite way to read, especially during a global pandemic, is ebooks. I adore my Kindle, and how simple it is to add ebooks to it. I can check out an ebook from my library, and it’ll be digitally delivered with the click of a button. No cords, no hassle, just seamless reading. Magic is real, and it’s found in library ebooks.
If you like reviewing books, I recommend you check out LibraryThing. This online resource has early review copies of books and ebooks, and it’s free to sign up. Each month has a new batch of early review options, which you can enter to win. I’ve found the odds of getting the book are higher than the better-publicized Goodreads giveaways, and they only ask you review the book on their site in exchange for the book. I’ve gotten print and digital copies of books to review, and it’s such fun to get to read a book before it comes out.
My other source for advanced reader copies is NetGalley. NetGalley asks you to set up a profile, and you tell publishers which books you’re interested in. The publisher will review your profile and if they find you a good fit to review their book, they’ll send you an ebook. Different publishers have different specifics they’re looking for, whether that’s in reach or whether or not you’re a media representative or avid reader. Last year, I got to read Mary Kay Andrew’s Sunset Beach months before it came out. Nothing makes me feel like a rock star like getting a copy of a book before it comes out!
If reviewing isn’t your thing, I recommend putting books on your Want to Read shelf on Goodreads. Then they’ll email you when there’s a giveaway for that book. Another helpful tip is to add titles you want, especially Kindle titles, to your Amazon Wish List. Amazon often emails me coupons for titles on my Wish List, and after purchasing a book, I’ll often receive a coupon for other titles by that author. If you don’t want to buy the books, check out Prime Reading. In addition to the wonders of Amazon First Reads, Prime Reading loans ebooks to Prime members. As long as you have a Prime membership, you can get the book as long as you want.
If shopping on Amazon is a no go for you but you want to read ebooks, many local bookstores often have ebook options. If you don’t see any details on their website, you can always sent them an email or call to find out if there’s a way to get them credit for your ebook purchases.
If you don’t mind spending a little, Bookbub sends daily ebook deals based on your interests and price range. They’ll also share when your favorite authors recommend a book, when another book by a beloved author is on sale, and other great deals.
There are other sites that provide free ebooks in exchange for reviews, like Voracious Readers Only, but I haven’t tried them yet because I already have so many titles on my Kindle! Having too many books is a problem I’m grateful for!
What’s your favorite way to read?