Discussions Only We Know
Books on the Cheap
I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t have an unlimited amount of money to spend on books. I wish I did, but it’s a good thing that I don’t. If I did, then I would own any and every book that even looked interesting. So…I have to get creative sometimes in order to maintain the flow of books in and out of my possession. Here’s a list of sources for readers who have a limited book budget like I do:
- Your Local Library – This one should be obvious, right? Granted, my personal local library is tiny and has a horrible selection when it comes to books that I enjoy reading. But they’re not all this way. And for a small fee (often $5 per year), you can have access to a library card for libraries outside of your area—like the closest big
ishcity you live near.
- Overdrive Media Console/Camellia Net Library – Speaking of the library, you can get a pin number from your local library (or whatever library that you have a library card) and use the Overdrive Media Console App on your smartphone or tablet (including Kindle Fire) and computer to access the e-library and borrow books (and audiobooks) digitally for free. The Camellia link says "Alabama's Digital Library"...so I'm assuming each state has their own digital library. It's worth giving a try, right? And just in case you're wondering what kinds of titles are available...I've gone through my TBR list and found over 100 titles that are on my list that are available through this method. And they're adding titles on the regular.
- NetGalley – If you’re a book blogger or you follow a book blogger, then you’ve heard of NetGalley. But on the off chance that you have not, I’m telling you about them now. NetGalley offers books for free from publishers and authors in exchange for fair and honest reviews. But that’s the kicker. You have to review the books you receive. You can sign up for an account for free and begin requesting books for review now. NetGalley took some getting accustomed to when I first started using the site, but they’ve made many upgrades since. Publishers look at your review ratio when approving or declining your review requests, so it’s not a good idea to skimp on your reviews.
- Edelweiss – Again, if you review books then you’re eligible for free books in exchange for fair and honest reviews through this site. It’s very similar to NetGalley. The differences I’ve noted have been that for some reason I tend to get approved for more books through NetGalley over Edelweiss (even when requesting the same book), but Edelweiss also tends to have a better selection of “read now” books. And I’ve noticed that review books are often placed on Edelweiss a lot further out from their release date. I prefer this because it allows me more time to read, review, schedule, and prep. I’ve got review books from Edelweiss right now that are 6 months from the publication date.
- Amazon Prime Lending Library – Okay so while you do have to have an Amazon Prime Membership (which isn’t at all cheap) in order to borrow from the Lending Library, IF you happen to already have a prime membership this is a source that you might not be utilizing. Or if you’ve always wanted a prime membership and just haven’t committed to it yet, here’s yet another reason to jump on board. You can borrow one book per month, but you can’t borrow a 2nd book until you return the first.
- Amazon Freebies – This one is obvious, right? Sometimes these can go horribly wrong, and it’s easy to get caught in the trap of downloading all the freebies you can get. Thankfully Amazon has reviews and can give you a general idea of whether the book is a winner or not before you download it. I will usually only get a freebie if it’s a book already on my TBR list, a recommendation from someone I trust, or the cover/description pulled me in and the reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads have a >3.7 average rating. I’ve found that a lot of times readers on Amazon seem to be a bit nicer than readers on Goodreads. So I like to look at both sites before making my decision.
- Friends – I realize that some people aren’t blessed with real life friends who also enjoy reading. And even those of you who do have real life friends, I know loaning out your books can be difficult and requires a huge level of trust. BUT if you do have some real life friends that also read and you can trust enough to loan your books to (as well as you be trustworthy enough to borrow theirs), share your books with each other. Thankfully, I’m surrounded with quite a group of friends who enjoy reading. And thankfully we ALL share books. We’ve had some slip ups where a book has been ruined here or there, but there’s an understanding that if a book is returned in a condition less than it was loaned the borrower buys the owner a new book. I’ve had a couple of books get messed up, but I didn’t even have to mention it to the person who borrowed the book, they just automatically purchased me a new one. No harm no foul. Accidents happen. If you’re feeling really frisky you can even loan your tablet/e-reader to your friends if you trust them enough and vice versa. Holly and I have indefinitely swapped e-readers since we both have multiple devices. She has my 3G Kindle and I have her 2G Kindle. But we both have Paperwhites as well. This gives us both the ability to access 100% of the other person’s e-books at all times without missing out on our own e-books.
- ARCycling – I haven’t participated in this, but the idea is that you send in your ARCs you’re finished with or don’t plan to keep/re-read and you can swap them out for someone else’s ARCs.
- Giveaways – Book bloggers have giveaways going on all the time, but also Goodreads has giveaways going on all the time as well. Now, you don’t have any guarantees of winning or receiving any free books, but there’s always a chance, right?
- Book Review Buzz – Again, this is another site that I haven’t used myself, but the option is there. The focus here is more on indie and self-published books. I have subscribed so I get emails showing the books they offer, but I just haven’t requested any yet.
- Blog Tours – A blog tour is similar to NetGalley/Edelweiss. You’re typically provided with a copy of the book in exchange for your blog being part of the tour. The fun thing about blog tours is that you don’t ALWAYS have to review the book as your tour stop. Reviewing is my preferred tour post because I’m going to review the book anyway (since I review everything I read). Also, reviewing the book allows you to provide original content and prevents your blog tour stop from being regurgitated material.
- Gift Cards – I ask for gift cards to Amazon/Books-a-Million (we don’t have a Barnes and Noble close by where I live so I never ask for gift cards from there) at Christmas and my birthday every year. Ironically enough, over the past two years, I’ve probably used MOST of those gift cards on giveaways for Somewhere Only We Know. But gift cards are always an excellent way to get books that you don’t have to pay for yourself.
- Amazon Kindle First – I am a member of this, but I’ve only taken advantage of it once. Amazon will send you an email each month, and you have a choice of 4 books. You can receive one of those 4 books for free in exchange for a review.
- Amazon Kindle Scout –This is something that I think is way cool. I haven't participated yet simply due to a lack of time. But here's the gist as I understand it. You sign up. You browse new, never been published books. You nominate your favorites. You receive an email when a book you nominated has been selected for publication. And as thanks, you receive free copies of all books you've nominated that get published.
Sites You Have to Be Invited To
- Amazon Vine – I haven’t heard much about this, and I’m not a member myself, but here’s the deal. Have you ever noticed that an item on Amazon listed for pre-order (or not yet released), but there are reviews already? If you review books on Amazon typically you know that you can’t post your review until the release date of the book. Well Amazon Vine is what allows reviewers to post reviews of the item prior to the release date. The reviewer is provided with the item in exchange for the early review.
- Blog Tours – Sometimes for the “good books” you have to be invited to that particular blog tour. It’s not just something you can sign up for on your own. But for the general gist of what a blog tour is see above.
And then I’m not really sure what category this one should be in, but I also subscribe to BookBub. Basically I get an email of a list of books on sale and freebies every day based on my genre preferences. I have a couple of friends who also subscribe and they get a different list of books each day than I do. So that’s kind of neat. Of course if I see any deals too great to pass up then I pass them along to my friends as well. But the coolest new feature BookBub added only recently is that you can "follow" your favorite authors, and anytime a book they've written goes on sale, BookBub will alert you of the sale via a separate email from your daily deals email. I've snagged several books that were on my TBR list for a while but I couldn't justify the price when they've gone on sale because BookBub has alerted me.
And here’s the thing guys, this is just the list that I’m aware of. This list was created using sites/services that I either use personally or have heard of personally. I didn’t go hunt these sites/services down. There are many, many other sites out there that are similar I’m sure to BookBub and Book Review Buzz as well as a large number of blog tour companies. So, the options for getting books for free/cheap are really quite numerous. You might have to wade through a bit to get the hang of things or to find any hidden gems amongst the rubble, but now you can’t say that you haven’t been exposed to a mixture of ways to get access to books even if you’re on a budget or a limited book allowance—especially if you review books.
What about you? Do you have a limited book budget? Are there any sources you use that I didn’t mention here? Let me know!