Reading Books on the Cheap

Kindle Latest Gen retrofit for the M-Edge Guardian Case 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.

LIBRARIES (free)

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.

BOOKSTORES ($$)

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?

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15 comments to Reading Books on the Cheap

  • My favorite way to get books after ruling out reading them online free is my Bookmooch.com membership. You list the books – hardcover, paperback, or audio – that you’re willing to send to a “moocher” in exchange for points that you can then spend mooching books from other members. It’s a great way to find older books and resources and you can make a wishlist to be alerted when they are listed in a member’s inventory. Bookmooch has a constantly updated feed of newly listed books so you can see new arrivals. I’ve formed some enjoyable and lasting email relationships with fellow moochers.

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    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    Oh yes, that is a good way! I was using one I think it was called paperbackswap.com. But then it started to be that the books I wanted I couldn’t find so I gave up on it. I still have a lot of book credits but I never go there. I used them to get rid of a lot of books that I had that I no longer wanted and got a lot of credits for that. Thanks for telling us about Bookmooch.
    Mrs. Accountability recently posted..Save Money by Changing Your Car’s Windshield Wipers & Air Filter YourselfMy Profile

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  • I use our public library for just about everything. If I really like the book I might buy it but I’ve found that for most books, once and free is enough. This saves a lot!
    Money Beagle recently posted..7 Things I Learned During Our New Roof ProjectMy Profile

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  • Besides the library where I can take out print and ebooks for free, I go to the bookstore and look at magazines. I subscribe to a couple magazines, at a cut rate. One is $8.22 (total) for four years.
    krantcents recently posted..How to Become Minimum Wage MillionaireMy Profile

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  • Nice analysis of the options available. My wife swears by Kindle and has reads voraciously because she loves the format and of course loves to read. I am stuck with Journal of Taxation, Tax Advisor, Estate Planning, etc. for my reading materials.
    STEVEN J. FROMM, ATTORNEY, LL.M. (TAXATION) recently posted..Estate Planning 2013: Now What? A Must Read For EveryoneMy Profile

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  • Ambi

    In addition to paper mag subscriptions, I subscribe to 2-3 Kindle blogs for 99 cents a month and end up having plenty of spare reading material on the weekends!

    [Reply]

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    Ambi, I didn’t realize there was such a thing as subscribing to blogs through Kindle. Although I do know there is a web option. Do these blogs always cost 99 cents a month to read or can you read them free if you go directly to them? Or I guess if this is a subscription, maybe it’s something like Feedburner? Interesting. I’ll be looking into this as I’m now curious about it. Thanks!
    Mrs. Accountability recently posted..Save Money by Changing Your Car’s Windshield Wipers & Air Filter YourselfMy Profile

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    Ambi Reply:

    You can see the blogs for free if you directly go to the blogger’s website, but I personally have 2-3 blog subscriptions including Budgeting in the Fun Stuff. They cost 99 cents a month, and re-format the blog so that it is directly loaded to your Kindle every time there is a new post. It’s a lot easier than checked each website to see if there is a new post…though technically, it’s an unnecessary cost.

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    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    Oh, cool! Thanks for telling me about this! It seems kind of like using Google reader but it goes to one’s Kindle. Kind of a neat idea. Thanks!
    Mrs. Accountability recently posted..Amazon, Why Won’t You Let Me Buy From You?My Profile

  • One of my favorites ways to read on the cheap is to get book from friends and using their readers. I find a lot of people have books just setting around that they don’t plan on reading again or throwing away. Makes for my own little personal library. If I cant read I hit up Youtube to hear one of the free versions of books that I feel are too long for me to read at the time.

    [Reply]

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    Thanks for the suggestions!
    Mrs. Accountability recently posted..Save Money by Changing Your Car’s Windshield Wipers & Air Filter YourselfMy Profile

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  • I’ve thought about joining PaperBackSwap as well but not sure I’d want the confusion of having two inventories.

    There was a book I saw on Bookmooch that looked interesting and I managed to find it on a free audiobook site: http://archive.org/details/librivoxaudio. I’ve been listening to it right on my laptop but it can be downloaded into other devices (if you know how to do that, which I don’t, LOL. I need to adopt a pre-teen who’s willing to be my on-site tech support!)

    [Reply]

    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    LOL, Deborah, I feel the same way nowadays since my live in tech support moved out! That’s cool that you were able to find the book in audio for free. Oh, it’s at the Internet Archives. Neat!
    Mrs. Accountability recently posted..Amazon, Why Won’t You Let Me Buy From You?My Profile

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  • [...] Reading Books on the Cheap – I love reading and I love saving money, so I definitely enjoyed this article on Out of Debt Again.  I’m an online store fan myself, but keeping all the options to read in mind is a plus. [...]

  • [...] Mrs. Accountability contemplates ways to get your reading matter at minimal cost — and along the way offers a surprising tip on how to shave some time and money off Amazon [...]

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