I have been a book nerd for several years now and one thing I learned over the years is that, like many of my other fangirl passions, reading and buying books can get expensive overtime. Most new hardcovers (my preferred book format) cost between $18 to $25 if you buy them in-store, and online (at least on Amazon and sometimes on Barnes and Noble) they’re usually between $10 to $16. Even e-books are pretty pricey when you compare them to the physical editions unless you buy them when they’re on sale.
One of my New Years Resolutions this year is to save more money and focus on paying off my student loans, so one thing I started doing was buying less books and trying to find ways to read books for free (of course, without pirating them because that’s an awful thing to do and only harms the authors). Here are some ways I read books without spending a dime.
5. Online Self-published Stories
In other words, fanfiction (fan-written stories based on existing tv shows, movies, books, etc.). Some people may not like it, and that’s completely okay, but before I fell in love with books, I was addicted to fanfiction and read it everyday since I was a kid. That’s even how I started writing my own stories. Lately, I haven’t been able to read much fanfiction (with the exception of Once Upon a Time because I am obsessed with Captain Swan) but I used to frequent Fanfiction.net or Archive of Our Own. If you’re not into fanfiction, there are also websites where you can read self-published original stories, such as Fictionpress or Wattpad.
Of course, there are downsides to these free online self-published books, such as finding quality stories. Anyone who creates an account can post stories on these sites, no matter their writing skill so sometimes it takes a bit of searching and filtering to find a well-written story. I usually search for the ones with a lot of reviews and favorites. Another con is that stories on these sites are usually posted chapter-by-chapter, so sometimes stories are left unfinished.
4. Borrow a Friend’s Book
Assuming you have fellow book nerd friends to borrow from, of course. Most of my friends from school were not big readers, and the ones that did read regularly weren’t into the same books that I am. Luckily, after finding my passion for reading actual books, I met and became friends with quite a few book nerds who read practically the same books I’m interested in. So, as long as your friend is okay with it, you’d definitely save a lot of money borrowing your friend’s books. Just be sure to to take care of them (unless they’re the type of reader who shows their books “tough love” then I guess it doesn’t matter much? I’m not sure because I take care of my books as if they were made of glass. Haha) and remember to return them once you’re finished.
3. E-book Sales
Every now and then I check my iBooks app or Amazon Kindle for e-book sales because, in addition to having ebooks for as low as $0.99 sometimes, they also offer some books for absolutely nothing! iBooks even has a section that lists a lot of their books that are currently free to download so it’s fairly easy to find and browse through. They also have a lot of classics that are always free, such as books by Jane Austen, Shakespeare, and Mary Shelley.
I used to go download crazy with free ebooks. I would check iBooks at least three times a week, looking for free YA books because their selection always varies. Currently, I believe Veronica Roth’s Divergent is free to download as part of their “Free Series Starters” category in the YA section. They have different sales for different e-books all the time, so just make sure to check back occasionally if you’re looking for a specific genre like I usually do. Keeping up with authors’ social media pages and blogs that notify you of e-book sales help, too!
2. Local Libraries
As much as I enjoy the convenience of ebooks, I love the feel of physical books more, and the excitement and euphoria of walking into a room filled with books is irreplaceable. I don’t do it often but when I do visit my local library I always get this subdued joyful feeling (I say subdued mainly because I try to keep quiet in libraries and not fangirl over all the lovely free books, haha) and have to refrain from borrowing ten books at a time.
Utilize your local libraries. If there’s a particular book you’re looking for and it’s not there, you can request it from another library branch or ask a librarian to stock it for you. Even if it’s free, borrowing books from libraries help authors as well because it shows how much interest there is for their books. The more requests for a book that libraries get, the more likely it is that they will purchase and stock it.
This is my favorite way to read books for free and all you need is a library card! Overdrive is a free app where you can sign into your local library’s online catalog of e-books and audio books, then borrow them on the spot for up to three weeks. No need to leave the comfort of your room to visit your local library; you can just stay curled up in bed and borrow several e-books and/or audio books directly from the library. This is how I usually read books now, especially audio books if I don’t want to buy them from Audible. I actually have access to two libraries’ online catalog because I signed up for two library cards at two different libraries. So if one book is currently unavailable at one, I just check the other and borrow it from there if it’s available. So convenient and absolutely affordable.
Do you have other tips on how to get some free reads? Let me know in the comments!