Free or Cheap Ways to Get Books
I decided to compile this list after reading a Twitter feed sent to me. Over on TikTok there are “influencers” advocating for the return of e-books to Amazon after reading. Apparently, Amazon has no policy on this. This practice harms authors, especially indie authors and writers just starting out. Royalties from returned e-books are deducted from an author’s account. There is also a delivery feel authors pay each time someone purchases an e-book that does not get refunded when an e-book is returned. In some cases, authors have owed Amazon money.
Writers deserve to be paid for their time.
Returning books you have read does not support authors. It doesn’t matter how many people you reach through social media that buy that book. The second you tell people “I returned this after reading it because Amazon lets you do that” people are going to follow in your footsteps. People are cheap. Often the more money someone has, the cheaper they are.
This is morally wrong. It is theft. I can not think of any other digital download people get to return for a full refund after using.
Yes, books can be expensive, especially if you read a lot. I’m already on my 9th book for this month. This is also a slow month for me. With gas prices going up as they are and shortages on everything, including paper products (that includes books), everyone’s book budgets are suffering. With that, here are some free and inexpensive ways to get books.
Before I get into where to find free and inexpensive books, there is an easy way to find free and cheap books. Bookbub, The Fussy Librarian, Discount Books Daily, and a number of other sites will send you daily emails telling you where to find free and low cost books across every genre. You sign up on their website and choose what genres you want to hear about. Just Google “sites similar to Bookbub” and you will get more than 30 sites.
Libraries Yes, I’m stating the obvious, but that is what they are there for. Libraries are free. If you don’t mind spending a bit of money you can get a library card for the next county over or an out of state library card to use on e-books. Here’s a secret, if you live near the campus where you attended college/university, many of these schools allow alumni to continue to check out books.
Little Free Libraries There is an app that can be downloaded to find all the little free libraries in your neighborhood. Check them out. Share books you are done with there while you are at it. There is some rumor they are filled with books no one wants, but I’ve found current releases and best sellers in them. I’ve also found some hidden gems I wouldn’t have known about otherwise.
Book Exchanges Here’s an idea. Join a book exchange where a group of people send a book they are done with every month to someone else in the group. If you can’t find one, start one. It’s a fun way to get books you wouldn’t have necessary picked yourself.
Become an ARC reader ARC stands for Advanced Reader Copy. This is something I always wanted to do, now I’m doing it. You get free books in exchange for reviews, before the book is even released. The most popular and easiest place to start getting ARCs from is NetGalley.
Barnes and Nobles and Amazon If you go under e-books and type in the word “free”, a plethora of books come up. I’ve not tried it with Books-a-Million yet. These are books that publishers have decided to make free for a time to raise hype for an author for various reasons, including a new book coming out.
Project Gutenburg All books that are in the public domain can be found on Project Gutenburg.
Used Book Stores This one seems like another no-brainer. However, not all used bookstores are created equally. Some charge almost new prices. If it is only a dollar or two more to get a new book, you might as well get the new book. Library book sales are awesome. I pay 50 cents for mass market paperbacks, and $1 to $3 for everything else. All the money goes to support the library too. I’ve picked up popular current books this way. Thriftbooks is an awesome online bookstore that has a rewards program that allows you to get free books. I currently have 5 books in my cart and the total for those books is $25.02! Plus I get rewards credits for using their app.
Thrift Stores These are always hit or miss. I often feel like boxes of books that are at least 20 years old get donated, especially to Goodwill, by someone who recently had a relative pass away. You can still find gems this way.
Yard Sales I’ve found a lot of books in the past going to yard sales. I need to start doing this again. You never know what you are going to find, especially if someone is moving.
Kindle Unlimited For $10 a month you get access to a lending library of sorts. Books are sent directly to your Kindle or Kindle app on your phone/tablet. You can borrow up to 20 books at a time. If you read a lot this is the way to go. Scribd offers a similar program for the same cost.
Smashwords There are Shashwords exclusive authors who don’t want to deal with Amazon. A lot of authors are choosing to go this way because of Amazon policies. Smashwords is an online e-book store that has free, low cost and full priced books.