7 Great sources of free or inexpensive books

I love to read. It is seldom that I don’t have at least one book going. Sometimes two or three. I also think reading is critical if we want to better our lot in life. Charlie Tremendous Jones says that 5 years from now we will be the same as we are today except for the books we read and the people we meet. I believe that to be true.

While I think books are an investment in our future and generally worth every penny we spend on them, they can also get very expensive. Here are some ways that you can still read the books you want, without busting your budget.

1. Library

This is probably the most obvious option. There are some books that I want to actually own because either I will likely read them more than once or they are books that I want to have for future reference. There are many books that I want to read however that I will likely read and then place on my shelf never to touch again. The library is a wonderful free source for books, dvds, and music.

I live in Ohio and the Ohio library system is phenomenal. I don’t know if this is true of all states, but Ohio has an inter-library loan program. Basically, I can get on my local library’s website and search the catalogues of all the libraries in the state. Then I can reserve anything I find and it will be shipped to my local library where I can pick it up. This is a tremendous service. Very seldom do I find something that isn’t available somewhere in the system.

The only drawback of using the library is if I am looking for a popular item, I might have to wait my turn to get it. That might mean I have to wait a few weeks to get my book in the worst case. But there are very few books that I must have immediately.

2. The Amazon Kindle

Wait a minute you say. I thought this was about getting inexpensive or free books. The Kindle is hardly free.

You are correct. Currently the cheapest version of the Kindle is still about $79. However, there are free Kindle Readers that are available for most smartphones and also for the PC. When I first installed the Kindle reader on my phone, I really doubted I would enjoy reading a book on my phone. I have been pleasantly surprised though. I have read quite a few books this way and really don’t mind it at all. The great thing is I almost always have my phone with me, so if I’m stuck waiting at the doctor’s office or in a long check out line I always have a book with me.

The beauty is there are a large number of books that are available for free in Kindle format. Additionally, if you sign up for e-mail or Facebook updates, Amazon runs frequent specials where books are offered for free or for only a dollar or two. I currently have over 70 books on my Kindle reader and combined I have probably spent less than $50 on them. That’s a pretty good bargain.

You can also do similar things with Barnes and Noble and their Nook device. They also offer a free reader that can be installed on your phone or computer.

3. Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg, http://www.gutenberg.org/, is the first and largest online collection of e-books on the Internet. These are mostly books that are old enough that they are in the public domain, but there are many classics of literature that are available from here and they can be downloaded in a variety of formats. The site also provides links to other sources for free online books.

4. Used Book Stores

Obviously used book stores aren’t “free” but you can usually get books at a significant discount.  Quality of the books may vary but I’ve been able to find books that are in nearly new condition for less than half the cover price.

5. Library sales

My local library offers library book sales about 3 or 4 times a year that they use to raise money to help support the library. Some of these books are library books that are being “decommissioned”, but usually the majority are books that have been donated by library patrons. It’s a little like a treasure hunt as you never know from sale to sale what you may find and the prices are very inexpensive. Usually my local library has paperbacks for $.25 and hardbacks for $.50 to a $1.00. On the last day of the sale they usually have a clearance sale where you can get books by the bag for $1.00 a bag.

6. E-bay

E-Bay has a wholesale book lots category. In this category you can find large lots of used books. Generally, these are grouped in various categories or by authors. You can often get the books here for less than a dollar per book.

7. Paperback Book Swap

http://www.paperbackswap.com is basically a swap meet for books. I have not personally used this site but I have known people who have. Essentially, the concept is you list books on the site that you have that you are willing to trade. When someone requests one of your books then you ship it to them and this earns you “credits” you can use to request books from other people on the site. They currently advertise as having over 5,000,000 titles available through the site.

Don’t let your budget keep you from reading

Books are a great source of entertainment and they are also a great way to feed your mind. I truly believe the more your read the more successful in life you will be. Books can be expensive though.  By using these tips you should be able to find almost any book you want and do so without damaging your wallet.


Photo credit: chillihead

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