My mom is notorious for buying the cheap-ass plates for family gatherings.
Not a surprise considering I come from a frugal, budget-wise family.
It’s also no secret that my family loves reading. I come from people who love collecting books. There’s nothing better than the smell of old pages or the feeling of a brand new book cover, before the spine is creased and the pages dog-eared (I am one of THOSE people).
However, I cut down on my book purchases in college when I had a smaller discretionary income, I could no longer borrow books from my high school creative writing teacher, and I couldn’t spend $50 resupplying my books every month. Plus, college meant that I had to move my personal books in and out of my dorm room or apartment every year, and eventually out of state to grad school.
And, y’all, moving boxes of books SUCKS.
I realize that not everyone is a fan of reading. I have no idea why. To me, sitting for hours hallucinating the adventures of characters I’ve created images for in my head sounds like the best thing in the world. Maybe some just haven’t found the right book yet. But whatevs, it takes all kinds!
The best part is that reading can be FREE! Or at least really, really cheap… In my quest to find frugal sources of reading, I’ve come across some resources I can’t believe I used to live without. I read every night before I go to bed, which means I need a constant supply of books. My nightmares don’t consist of monsters or bogeymen–they consist of finishing a book and not being able to start a new one right away! It’s become such that I have a hard time falling asleep if I don’t take that time to relax and delve into an imaginary world (or bygone days, if you’re a non-fiction fan) for an hour or so.
Today, I’ll share a few of my tricks for finding good books without spending an ungodly amount of money at the bookstore…
1) The Public Library
The library is pretty up-to-date now and takes advantage of current technology. You can always physically go to the library and check out books for free, which was one of my favorite past-times as a child (maybe because they had a guinea pig in the children’s section). But if you have a Kindle, you can also check out ebooks!
After I got a library card here in Cbus, I created a wish list on my library’s website and I’ve gradually worked through them as they become available (you can also place holds on books, too). My library’s website allows you to filter your list by the books currently available, which is super convenient when you finish a book and immediately need another one to read. When you put a book on hold, it also lets you know what position you are in the hold line (you know, because planning).
NOTE: If you’re feeling especially rebellious, I’ve heard that if you’re not finished with an ebook by the time it’s due, you can turn off your Kindle’s wifi and the ebook won’t automatically return to the library (until you turn the wifi back on). I say I’ve “heard” about this because I have a Kindle Fire and this sneaky trick does not work. Even if I have the wifi turned off, the ebook will “expire” and not allow me to open it past the due date. So be aware, Kindle Fire users, they’re on to you sneaky snakes!
Kindle books from Amazon are a great option for those of us who love books, but don’t have the space or necessarily want to hang on to a load of books. I love hard copies because you can usually find used ones on Amazon for next to nothing (literally), but it really blows if you ever have to relocate and move them.
Investing in a Kindle can totally alleviate this problem. I still collect copies of books I think are especially awesome because I encourage building a personal library, but this way, you can be more selective rather than feeling you have to buy a hard copy that you don’t know if you’ll enjoy. An ebook is usually cheaper than a hard copy, but you can also find many ebooks for $2-3! And these aren’t just obscure titles, either.
Currently, I’m reading The Demon in the Freezer by Richard Preston (The Hot Zone), which I found in Kindle Edition for $2.99! Who knew I could enjoy reading about smallpox for such a low price? The only downside is that even though many books have a Kindle edition, not all do (but they might in the future). Which brings me to…
I have two words for you–FREE. eBOOKS. Seriously. BookBub is a free online service that emails you ebook recommendations from Amazon based on a variety of genres you choose from a list when you sign up. Each book is either free or deeply discounted. And when I say discounted, I mean $.99-$1.99. If you find a really hot bestseller, it MIGHT be $2.99.
I’ll be honest, this is where I’ve gotten into trouble with Amazon’s “buy now with one click” option (except not really because we’re talking about $.99!). I love BookBub because I’m always perusing suggestions based on my reads from the library and Amazon. It’s like Stitch Fix for books, except WAY cheaper.
This one’s not so much where to find the cheap-ass books, but rather how to find them. This was my original system for finding good books–I like to use Amazon and library ebooks in tandem. First, I’ll decide what book I want based on suggestions from other books I’ve enjoyed. Both Amazon and the public library website have lists of suggestions beneath specific books you select, which include synopses.
I recently discovered WhatShouldIReadNext, a website I’ve found to be pretty useful, and the suggestions have been spot on. You just enter the title of the book or author you like into the provided field and it will generate a list of reading suggestions from their database of real readers’ favorite books. Once I find a title I want, I’ll search for it in the library to see if I can check it out for free. If not, I’ll go back to Amazon and see if there is a Kindle Edition (and hope it’s not super expensive). Sometimes it takes some hunting, but along the way I usually find even MORE books I want to read!
I know there are some of you out there that just NEED a physical book to hold in your hands, and I can’t say that I blame you. If this is the case and you need to snort some page-aroma to get your literary fix, at least keep it within budget!
ThriftBooks is an online bookstore offering a massive selection of books for a fraction of the bookstore price. Almost all of the books I searched for ended up being $3.59 while newer releases were between the $10-20 range. However, they also offer thrifty deals like 2 books for $7, 3 books for $10, and 4 books for $12. If you’re a bibliophile on a budget, it’s definitely worth taking a look.
So there it is–5 places to find the cheap-ass books! Although I love a good stroll through the bookstore, reading should not be a drain on your finances. There are options out there for everyone–whether you’re a fan of ebooks or want to continue building an epic home library.