It is no secret that I love, Love, LOVE books! That means I also love knowing where to get free books, or almost-free books. I have always been an avid reader and to me, a home without books is a home without a soul. Just ask my husband. We have “soul” in the living room, in the children's bedrooms, in the hallway and even in the bathroom. (Don't judge me! There was some fabulous wallspace in there that wasn't being used! And there's no shower so the books won't get moldy.) I justify my collection by telling
myself my husband that it's important to have books at home because we live so far from a library. But collecting books can get expensive. Here are a few ways I have built up my wonderful library over the years without going broke.
Where To Get Free Books (Or Almost Free Books)
Paperback Swap is a book-swapping club that I have been a member of for so long I can't remember how long! (Maybe 7 or 8 years?) All you do is take the books that you are willing to part with and enter them into the system. Once you've entered 10 books, you get a free credit to get started. Each book is worth 1 credit. Then you wait. Your book goes into a database and when somebody is searching for your book, they will request it from you. You pay to mail your book to them, but you receive one credit. Then, you can use that credit to request a book from somebody else. You can make a wish list and you will be notified automatically when books on your wish list become available. I have saved hundreds of dollars over the years by swapping books this way. (They have recently added a tiered membership so the program is no longer free. BUT, the membership cost is minimal and if you opt not to join, the cost is only 50 cents per swap.)
Little Free Libraries
Have you heard of the Little Free Library Movement? I love this! People build adorable, weatherproof boxes and install them in their front yard. People walking by are welcome to take a book home with them! In theory, you're supposed to either return the book or leave a replacement book, but many Little Free Librarians have had books donated and allow you to keep the book for free. It just depends on the person who owns the book box. Either way, it's a super fun way to find some new titles and authors!
The Public Library
Yes, you can borrow books here, but did you know many libraries also give or sell excess books very inexpensively? Our local library has a shelf where they give books away for free. They only ask that you take less than 5 books and leave books for others. The give-away shelf is very hit-or-miss, but we have found some treasures here!
The library in the next town over has a shelf of books in the library that they sell for 25 cents each. You can't beat that! They also rent out a convention center every year and sell all their surplus for crazy low prices! (Why yes, I was the pregnant lady two years ago pushing my biggest baby carriage through the book sale. When people peeked in to see my sweet baby, all they saw was a load of books!)
If you enjoy the public library as much as I do, I think you'll like these books about libraries. (And they're all available used, of course!)
Thrift Shops, Used Books Stores, Garage Sales and Craigslist.
Thrift stops can be hit or miss, but almost every thrift store I've ever been to has a book section in the back somewhere. I've found some treasures in thrift stores that I wouldn't have come across any other way. Used books stores are often adorable and full of character. I enjoy sweet shops like that as much for the experience of being in the store breathing their air as for finding neat books. Most garage sales also have a box or shelf of books that somebody is selling for pocket change and I've found some great deals on books on Craigslist. And of course Amazon has a ton of used books! If I'm looking for a specific book or a variety of books on a specific topic, Amazon is often the first place I check.
This is a new resource for me that I haven't used yet, but it could really come in handy (especially for home schoolers who need a lot of literature for school, but don't necessarily want to keep the books). There is a monthly membership fee, and you can check out multiple books at the same time. When you’re done, send them back (you don’t pay for shipping) and get the next ones on your list. There are no late fees and membership starts at $9.99/month for 2 books at a time; plans go up to 12 books at a time. This may or may not be the cheapest way to do it. It depends on what books you need and how expensive those books would be new. If you would like to try it out, click this link and use the coupon code SAS to get 60% off your first month.
Amazon.com is a great place for finding almost any book you need. Most books have an option to buy it used at a discount. Some books are sold for just 1 penny! (But there is an additional shipping and handling fee.) I have gotten lots of books from Amazon over the years. One fun thing about Amazon's site is that when you find a book you like, Amazon will show you what other people who bought that book also purchased. They'll also show you other books that are similar to the one you are looking at. Amazon is really good at showing you the books you didn't know you need. I have found a lot of great books from Amazon's recommendations.
Thriftbooks is my favorite book-buying site! Although they are a used book seller on Amazon, they also have their own website and their website is amazing! They have the cheapest prices on used books that I found anywhere (usually starting at $3.59) and if you purchase $10 worth of books shipping is free! If you're a member of the free Reading Rewards Club you also get a $5 coupon every time you spend $50. (You don't have to spend the $50 at one time. It can be spread out over several orders.) I've earned quite a few of those Reward Coupons!
If you are interested in trying out ThriftBooks, use THIS LINK to get a 15% off coupon. The coupon expires in 14 days.
Arrange a Book Swap With Friends
One thing that's fun to do is to invite friends over and have everyone bring a book that they are ready to part with and then swap! You might have a themed party where people bring books from a certain genre or just have a free-for-all where people bring whatever they want. Either way you may find some fun surprises!
Now that you know where to get free books (or nearly-free books), here are a few reading accessories for avid book lovers like you and I: