If you’re a bookworm, you might want to get hold of cheap books and cut down on your book spending.
I love reading. I’ve always been a bookworm. (It’s why I’m sad that N isn’t a fan of reading – he likes the thought of books, new books, but reading for leisure just passes him by).
From childhood where I’d have several books on the go at once, reading at breakfast and late at night with a torch under the covers, coming in from playing out with friends to finish a book.
To being a student where I’d run out of books to read in the town’s library as they couldn’t restock fast enough the genres I enjoyed.
To adulthood where I got past the ‘only got time to flick through magazines when you’ve got a young child’ stage to being back getting through 50+ books a year. I’m still a book lover, and while I don’t belong to a book club, there’s a few of us who share favourite and recommended reads at work.
But being a prolific reader can feel like it gets expensive. It’s doesn’t have to be. Over the years I’ve bought and borrowed books from all sorts of places, so I thought I’d share some of the options for getting hold of books without having to buy at full price. I’m sure authors and publishers aren’t happy that people rarely pay full price for books anymore, but I’m all for getting more people to read
Many of the cheaper options mean reading ebooks. Before I got my Kindle I really didn’t want to have one. I thought I would only ever read proper books. But I’m a convert and love my Kindle Paperwhite. I can read it in poor light in the evenings or in bed, and with my rubbish eyes starting to need reading glasses, I can just magnify the font when my eyes are tired. I do still have paperbacks but they’re mostly unread books I bought years ago and haven’t read because my Kindle is so much more convenient. I’ve included options for both accessing ebooks and normal books.
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How to access free or cheap books
Paperback or hard back books
Second hand books are available all over the place and are the sustainable option.
Car boot sales – you’re unlikely to find the latest best sellers at a car boot sale, but if you enjoy finding books in bulk and a browse at the weekends, then they could be a good option. As a seller, it can be hard to get rid of books, so they might be open to haggling. Books can be anything from 10p a book to around £2. Also good for children’s books.
Charity shops – similar to car boot sales, you’ll likely get a good bargain, and may also be able to pick up whole series of books if people have had a big clear out and donated in bulk. Some charity shops charge more than supermarket prices (Oxfam I’m looking at you), which unless you really want to donate to charity and hate buying new things, might be ok for you.
Personally if I’m spending more than £2 on a second hand fiction book, I’d want to buy it new. It’s worth checking all local charity shops because stock rotates quickly and some are better than others. Our best shop is about 20p a book. Bargain. Also good for kids books.
Second hand book shops – Many are specialist shops so you might be spending more money for older special edition books. But some markets have second hand book stalls and these will more often stock cheaper more popular books. Worth asking if they accept finished books, as some will give you money for them or credit to spend on more books.
Use your local library – free. Libraries have declined in some places over the years, but there are still plenty around (look out for library buses as well). Not only books, but you can read papers and magazines, as well as lots of local history if yours has a local section. Many libraries allow you to take around 10 books out at a time. You only pay if you’re late returning books (usually there’s no charge for late children’s book returns).
Borrow or swap books with friends – quite often people you know will have good book recommendations, so borrow from friends. Or why not set up a book swap at work where you can donate or take books.
Telephone box libraries – we have a few of these around our town and villages. People donate books and they’re free for people to take to read.
Book crossing – add a bit of fun and go book hunting around the neighbourhoods near you. People release books into the wild for others to find. Track your finds and dropped books around the world.
Take part in World Book Day/World Book Night– WBD celebrates reading and books in March each year for children in particular. Children receive vouchers via schools and nurseries for free books.. For World Book Night there’s usually the opportunity to sign up to donate books to others. It’s more about donating, but depending on the theme for the year, you might be able to pick up a book from the agreed list that year for free from a stranger or someone you know.
Online stores – Amazon marketplace, ebay, or other places. Not all are cheap books, and you’ll likely have to pay for postage for more than the actual book cost, but worth looking at especially if you’re after specialist books.
The cheapest places on the high street for new physical books are places like The Works, factory outlets, or supermarkets which generally for 2 for a price on chart books. Look out for till vouchers for money off next purchases on books at WHSmith, and get the Waterstones loyalty card, where you can get money off from building up points on purchases.
You don’t have to have an E reader to read books. If you’ve a tablet or smartphone you can download apps to read ebooks on them. Personally I don’t like reading on those, so I’m reliant on my Kindle Paperwhite* which I’ve had for about 7 years.
There are several ways to get books for ‘free’ through Kindle, but they do rely on having a subscription.
Prime Reading. Free books available for all Amazon Prime subscribers. Access to over 1000 books and magazines, you can check out 10 books at any one time. You can get the Kindle reader app for android and ios phones, windows pc, mac and obviously Kindles. I have to admit it’s not the easiest place to reach and access the books. Every time I want to switch books I have to rely on email notifications coming through because I can never find the actual books through Amazon’s website.
Kindle owners lending library. As a Prime subscriber you can borrow books (over 800,000) from other Kindle owners, but you’re limited to 1 book at a time.
Kindle unlimited – if you read a lot, Kindle Unlimited is a subscription service where you can get access to over 1.4 million books, magazines, and audio books, checking out 10 at a time. This is also available on the same devices as Prime Reading.
Amazon daily deals – there are so many deals on books, you need never pay full price. I tend to buy a more varied choice of authors and books than I would do via the shops because I’ll rarely spend more than £1.99 on a book. You might find, like me, that my previously favourite authors are more expensive in the ebook version, largely because ebooks have VAT on them, and physical books don’t. So I look to other authors, and buy my favourites when I spot them on deals or in shops.
The other ebook websites
Google ebookstore – options to access free books from contemporary to classics
Project Gutenburg – a library of over 55,000 free books available in the public domain. Best for classics rather than contempory books.
Open Library – a public library where anyone can contribute publications. Over 1 million books
Internet archive – millions of freely downloadable books and texts, mostly out of print documents and academic texts
Librivox – audiobooks for download
So, if you’re short of books and want to stock up, then try out some of these. And if you’re struggling to find time to read, check out my tips for getting into the reading habit again.
While they’re not guaranteed, why not enter any book competitions you see. Sign up for publisher newsletters as well as retail stores, and you’ll spot plenty of giveaways.
Where do you get your books from?
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