Seems that lately my co-workers have caught the reading bug – probably from the new wave of Kindles and Nooks coming out. We sometimes compare notes on our favorites during lunch. Last week, one of my co-workers confessed she was spending about $50 a month on books, to which we all gasped and asked how she could possibly spend that much. As it turns out she buys every book new from a local bookstore. I did the math quickly and figured that a $15 book once a week does add up to $60 a month – ouch! While I’m all for supporting your local business my budget doesn’t include spending a lot of money on books that I’m only going to read once. Here are some of the ways to get books free or cheaply.
PROS: Libraries really need a PR make-over. They need ads stating: your local library is having a year-long sale, everything is free! You can borrow a book (or 10 books) for two weeks FREE. My library charged a $5 card fee to start an account, but beyond that, this is a great option fiscally.
CONS: The most obvious pitfall is overdue fees, so be sure to return the books on time. Even if you’re late, the 10-25 cents fee per day is much less than the cost of a new book. There can be a limited selection at some libraries, making certain books hard to find. Borrowing books is also time-consuming as you have to travel to and from the library to check-out and check-in. And if you happen to lose the book? Find out if your library will allow you to replace it as it is often much cheaper to buy a new book online and bring it in. It’s been my experience that the library will charge you full price for the book. One more note: If your child rips a page in the library book,
KINDLES, NOOKS, AND OTHER READING DEVICES ($)
PROS: Reading devices are nice to have if you can afford one. I personally own one of the first Kindles that I’ve had for just over two years. You can download thousands of books for free, though those are mostly classics. Sometimes when I feel like getting a few new books I go to Amazon’s Kindle store and enter the words [ free Kindle books ] into the search box. There are always dozens of free Kindle books available for download. A lot of new publishers offer their Kindle books free for several days and I’ve gotten quite a few books to fix my “fluff” reading habit. For what it’s worth, as a thank you for getting the book free it is a nice gesture to leave a review. Kindle also has an extensive list of titles for 99 cents, and even more under S2.99. Because reading devices download wirelessly, there is no need to leave home. And you can even read your purchases for free on a computer, without an actual device by downloading computer apps.
CONS: Reading devices are an additional expense – around $99 or more. Lots of books are more than $2.99, and sometimes the reading device prices is almost as high as the list price. That brings me to…
ONLINE STORES ($)
PROS: The prices are usually very reasonable for hard bound or paper back books on many sites like Amazon. The selection is endless. Many sites will let you preview a few pages of the books. Very often I will buy a used copy because I don’t mind if there are a few sentences underlined or the pages are a little dog eared. When it comes to spending $15 for new or $2 (plus shipping), I’ll opt for the used copy.
CONS: I hate waiting on an order to ship. But I have a tip for you when buying used books from Amazon – most used bookstores use media mail to ship so what I do is find a bookstore that is offering the book in my state, or in a nearby state. I’m in Arizona, so I search for bookstores located in Arizona. I’ll also try California or New Mexico, or any others close by. Sometimes I have to pay a few cents more to buy from someone in my state, but the book gets here much more quickly than if I’d ordered it from a bookstore on the East Coast. Some bookstores also offer the option to expedite shipping for a couple dollars more.
PROS: I love that you can ‘preview’ the book in-person before purchasing the book. I feel much better buying a $10 book if I can check the first chapter for entertainment value. There are times I am not sure what I want to read, and those times really let bookstores shine.
CONS: There are no bookstores within a reasonable driving distance to where I live. The closest would be 30 miles. So right there the gas prices deter me. I could stop by a bookstore on the way home from work but I hate taking up my time like that. The worst part for me is the price. Bookstores seem to have THE highest prices on books. Oddly enough, the crowds also seem much worse at the bookstore than the library. So, I end up at bookstores rarely.
Honestly, I end up making book purchases differently based on what makes sense for that purchase. I can’t imagine ever needing a book so badly that I would drive to a bookstore but I know there’s that option if I ever need it. For my late night reading, I pull out my Kindle. And for the times I am able to wait, I order online.
How do you get your reading fix?