My 13 favorite places to score free (or almost free) books
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I love reading. A day doesn't go by when I don't sneak in at least a few pages from a book I have stashed somewhere. And while I keep a small collection of books at home, I haven't bought a book at full price since the final Harry Potter book was released in 2007. That's right, 11 years of not paying retail.
This isn't to say I haven't bought books, because I have! I've simply gotten smarter about finding book deals and often simply deciding that owning certain books isn't worth it. Because of spending all of 2017 decluttering our home, I now only buy books that I plan on reading more than once or that I want to mark up with notes. The rest I will simply borrow so they don't take up space on my shelf.
But where do I find all the books I read? There are a multitude of places to find heavily discounted or even free books!
This should be at the top of everyone's list when they want to read and find new books. Our library system is pretty amazing and is really great about getting books when they are released. I've also requested that they purchase books multiple times and I think I've only been turned down once or twice - usually because the book is available through the Inter Library Loan program in the state.
We do occasionally rack up late fees but I figure with the hundreds of books, movies, and video games we borrow each year that paying a bit isn't a huge deal. We've gotten significantly better over the years since they added online renewal though!
Our library almost always has book sales going on and frequently the books are as low as $0.50 each! This is a great chance to find a new author that you might not have known about otherwise. And at such a low price you don't need to feel as guilty if you end up passing them on when you're done.
My boys love searching garage sales for books. I'd much rather them buy books from a garage sale for $0.25 than spend $8 on a book from a book order. And when they are already well loved, I don't feel as bad when they get destroyed at our house.
I got most of my Harry Potter collection through thrift stores and eBay when I was in college. It was fun to hunt through store after store hoping to find a book I needed in good condition. Often thrift stores will run specials on books because they get overwhelmed by the amount coming in. I've seen our children's consignment shop run sales for buy 4, get 1 free and sometimes they even give away books to homeschoolers, teachers, and day care providers!
My kids got sooo excited each month when their new book would arrive. It was even addressed to them! This incredible program sends your child one book per month until age 5. If your kids are close in age you might be better off skipping a kid because they only change out the titles ever couple years. We usually got the same books at the same respective ages for Parker and Jamison then got different ones later for other kids. But hey, it's still free books!
We didn't keep or love all of them, but there are a few that have turned into family favorites and get read over and over and the rest went to the thrift store.
Discovering Overdrive through our library was a game changer for me. I honestly don't even know how many years ago it was but I know it was during the "my children will not leave my books alone" phase so it could be anytime within the last 9 years.. you know, once our oldest started getting mobile ;)
I know lots of people aren't big on ebooks, but this mama is a fan! No more ripped pages, no more losing my place because my kid pulls out my bookmark or smacks my book out of my hands. Not to mention I can have a whole bunch of books with me in the power of my phone or tablet! It's glorious.
Overdrive works with your library card and login information but you can also set up an actual Overdrive account so it can save your book information across devices. You are allowed to check out up to 5 books, audiobooks, or videos at a time and can place up to 8 items on hold. They also have a wishlish feature so you can keep track of items you'd like to check out but aren't ready to put on hold yet.
Hoopla is very similar to Overdrive because it works with your public library and offers a large amount of digital media for free. I've frequently found items through Hoopla that weren't available through Overdrive. Micah enjoys Hoopla more because they seem to have a larger collection of comic books than Overdrive.
The drawback? You can only check out 5 titles per month. Period. Once you've checked out five items you need to wait until the following month to check out anything new. For most people this shouldn't be an issue, but some months I have used up my 5 slots and had to find other things to read.
I love when my First Reads email shows up at the beginning of each month! Amazon chooses several upcoming new releases to offer Prime Members for FREE! You get to choose one out of those books. I have found some really interesting reads because of this program like Crimes Against a Book Club by Kathy Cooperman and right now I'm reading The Speed of Sound by Eric Bernt.
Is every book you choose going to be a winner? Probably not. But I've discovered some new authors that I might not have otherwise found because of First Reads.
Amazon Prime members have a whole library at their fingertips without needing to do anything! There are books, magazines, comics, and even audiobooks available as part of your Prime membership. It's unlimited, meaning you can read or listen to as many of the available titles as you'd like each month. And with the Kindle app you can access Prime Reading on an iOS device, android device, or on a Kindle or Fire tablet.
Amazon has deals on Kindle books daily. Some deals are awesome and you can get big names for just pennies... others are really obscure titles for a couple dollars. Thankfully they compile all these deals onto one page for easy browsing ;)
Finding a good deal is going to be fairly hit or miss so if you do have interest I'd suggest checking frequently or signing up to be notified. Occasionally they do offer Kindle books for free but I've yet to find a good way to sort and find all of them.
Kindle Unlimited is a subscription service through Amazon that allows you unlimited reading and listening on any device, not just Kindles, for a monthly price. You only have access to a selection titles of books, magazines, and audiobooks available but with over 1 million books, current month's magazines, and thousands of audiobooks you are sure to find something you will enjoy.
You can sign up for a 30 day trial of Kindle Unlimited here. If you do sign up for a paid subscription, you can cancel anytime without issue.
Netgalley is not well known outside of people that frequently do book reviews or book launches but it's actually open to anyone if you are willing to give feedback on the books you read. These are books that aren't published yet so it's a fun way to discover new material before everyone else!
Ultimate Bundles is a great company that compiles products from awesome bloggers and creators around the web into one group for you to buy at a super low price. They offer these bundles for limited amounts of time which is why they are able to sell them at a steep discount.
I have gotten countless ebooks by purchasing bundles and have a full library about a variety of topics. Almost all the Bible studies I completed in 2017 came from the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle that year. If I don't get a chance to read a book right when I purchase the bundle I don't need to worry because they are mine for life :D
The books you get in a bundle will be based around a certain topic and will all be non-fiction. For instance, right now you can purchase the Parenting Super Bundle for $47. It contains 80 different resources, many of which are ebooks, along with printables, ecourses, and workbooks. This bundle is available until the end of July and then it's gone for good.
Other bundles they have offered in the past are the Ultimate Homemaking Bundle (my favorite each year!), Genius Blogger Toolkit, Ultimate Photography Bundle, Herbs & Essential Oils Super Bundle, and the Handmade with Love Super Bundle. Some of these are available right now but others only show up for a few days and then disappear. If a bundle isn't currently available you can always sign up to be notified when it goes on sale again.
Alright. If you don't have a whole bunch of books by now I just don't know what to say! I'm off to do my own reading and knock out a few from my "to read" list.
By the way, did you know I keep a running list of the books I've read this year? Go check it out and get some ideas of what to look for in all these book hunting places!
Wondering how I find time to read all the books I'm getting for free or super cheap? These are my best tips for sneaking in reading whenever I can.