Love to read – but not loving all that money you’re spending on books? The costs can really add up, especially if you’re buying them new. But not to worry! There are tons of ways for any bookworm to score books for cheap – or even free. Discover how to save money on books with these five tips.
1. Check books out at your local library.
Libraries are an amazing resource for everyone. We pay for them with our tax dollars, so let’s use them!
You can borrow a huge variety of books for free from the library. Even if your local one doesn’t carry a book, many libraries function as a network – so you can usually request that they get a copy from another library for you. (Ask your librarian about this!)
You’ll also find most libraries have access to e-books that you can access through an app on your phone or tablet. This can be super convenient for reading on the go.
As a bonus, most libraries also offer a ton of other resources, too – making them a great frugal life hack. For example, you may be able to check out DVDs, borrow a mobile hotspot, or sign up for free children’s activities. Many libraries offer discounted passes for local museums or attractions.
Here’s a fun example of these extra perks – this summer, my library is event hosting an adult summer reading bingo card. By getting a “bingo” for checking off different reading goals, you’ll score a travel mug and entry into a gift card raffle. (I think of it as the adult equivalent of the Pizza Hut reading program for kids, haha).
Libraries truly are a priceless resource for reading to your heart’s content without spending a dime (well, besides the taxes you pay to support it).
2. Look for “Little Free Libraries.”
Have you ever seen a “Little Free Library” around your neighborhood? They’re these adorable book exchange boxes where people can take a book or leave a book.
The movement was started back in 2009, and since then, there have been over 90,000 of these book exchanges created in 91 countries. They’re an amazing way to share the love of reading – and it’s completely free to grab a book from one.
We actually have two right in my community – one for kids and one for adults. It’s so fun walking a minute out my door and browsing for a new book.
If you don’t have a Little Free Library near you, consider starting one! It’s a great community project that can be a nice way for neighbors to share with each other. You can learn how to start one, and once it’s constructed, register it so it appears on the world map.
3. Take advantage of used bookstores or thrift stores.
I admittedly get 90% of my books from the library these days. But sometimes, it’s nice having a non-library book when I’m traveling or heading to the beach (so I’m not worried about losing it or accidentally getting water on it).
Enter, the used bookstore or thrift store! Not only are the books there cheaper, but it feels like you’re giving them a second life. It’s a great option if buying books aligns with your values-based spending.
You can find both physical stores and online marketplaces for this. You can simply google “used bookstore near me” to find locations in your area.
It’s nice to try to support these local businesses. Smaller bookstores may not have the selection that larger chains do – but they need our business to stay afloat. Plus, you’ll often find that the people who work there are passionate about reading and can offer great recommendations.
There was an incredible used bookstore where I grew up in New York. You used to be able to bring in your books and earn credit at the store, then use your credit on books you wanted to buy. I used to visit every time I made the trip back home to see family, and was so bummed when it shut down a few years ago.
If you don’t have a local used bookstore, you can also check some of the more larger chain thrift stores. For example, we have lots of Savers stores near us. They typically carry a large variety of used books for $2-3, and as a bonus, when you buy 4 you get the 5th free.
For online options, you can check out sites like ThriftBooks. It’s not the best option for very new books, but is a great option for finding cheap books that are a few years old.
4. Source books from friends or your community.
There are bound to be people you know that love to read as much as you do. Why not swap books with them?
This is also a great way to declutter your own collection of novels you’ve already read, while getting a few new ones for free that you can dig into.
Also keep an eye on your local community groups on Facebook or Nextdoor. In our local moms group on Facebook, people are often giving away books they’re parting with for free. I’ve also had success in just asking if anyone has a copy they’re willing to lend me.
And don’t forget about yard sales! You can typically find books for 50 cents to $2 a piece. If you wait to swing by until the end, people may be willing to make a great deal if they’re anxious to get stuff out of their house.
5. Download free e-books.
No, we’re not talking about pirated copies of books. There are plenty of ways you can get your hands on e-books without spending a dime.
If you use the Kindle app, there are frequently promotional zero dollar deals on certain e-books. You typically won’t find options from the biggest authors, but you’ll find lots of unique and creative books.
There are also other options for free e-books outside of Amazon. Project Gutenberg is one popular option that was founded in 1971. They offer over 60,000 free e-books that are all in the public domain because their copyright has expired.
And as mentioned, your local library likely has a way to download free e-books for a limited time.
The Bottom Line
From libraries to used bookstores, there are lots of ways to get your hands on books without spending a lot of money. Using some of these tips and tricks will have you excited about reading while keeping more money in your bank account.
[If you need inspiration for what to read, be sure to check out our post on the best money mindset books.]
Do you have any favorite ways to save money on books? Share them in the comments below!