Seven Ways to Read on the Cheap

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If you know anything about me, then you probably know that I love books (and that I regularly blog about them). Seriously, I can’t get enough of books. I read something upwards of a hundred and fifty books a year. If I was buying all those full-price, my reading habit would quickly become unaffordable. As a result, I’ve developed a number of strategies to read on a budget.

1. The Library

This is an incredibly obvious one, but it’s surprising how few people I know make regular use of it. Libraries are great y’all! And if you’re enrolled in college, you might have access to free interlibrary loan, which means that even if your library doesn’t have a book, they can get you a copy from another library. Free interlibrary loan is probably the single greatest thing about being a college student.

2. eReaderIQ

This website allows you to track the prices of ebooks on Amazon. If the price drops to a specified threshold, you’ll get an email telling you the sales price. Obviously, you’ve got to have a way to read ebooks, but if you do, eReaderIQ is godsent. I stick all the books I want to read but feel too pricey and just wait for that price drop. It’s like magic. I’ve gotten two notifications this week, both for books being priced under a dollar!


(Photo from Unsplash)

3. Buying Used Books

There’s a lot of different ways to go about this one, but it generally works best with titles that are at least a few years old. You can sometimes find copies on Amazon that are being sold for $0.01 plus shipping, which means about four dollars. Alternatively, if you’ve got books you’re willing to part with, you can take them to a used bookstore such as Half Price Books and exchange them for store credit.

4. Borrowing from Friends

I'll admit, I’m more often usually the person lending out books than borrowing them. But I love it when a friend loans me a book! It’s not just a way to read for free, but it’s also means you get to bond over books.

5. Book Blogging

This is definitely the most labor intensive option of everything on this list. Actually, if you only start blogging to get free books, you’re probably not going to last long. See my other article on making a book blog. But if you do have what it takes to be a book blogger, blogging can be a great way to read brand new releases that’s entirely free.  

6. Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg has free ebooks of texts whose copyrights have expired. If you’re into classic literature, this is the site for you. And even if the classics aren’t your thing, it can be a great way to get some of that required class reading.

7. Giveaways

Book giveaways can be found on Goodreads and various blogs. They’re not a super great way to get books, for a number of reasons. For one, often times if you live outside the U.S., you’re out of luck. For another, the odds can be pretty low. You’re usually competing with hundreds, if not thousands, of other people for a single copy. My advice would be to search out individual blogs doing giveaways, since those can have better odds than with something like Goodreads. I once ran a giveaway where less than ten people ended up entering, and I had three copies to give away!

I hope these suggestions help you keep your reading affordable. Do you have any tricks you use for book buying? Let me know in the comments!

About The Author

I'm a sophomore at Agnes Scott College majoring in business management and minoring in studio art. I plan to work in publishing some day, and I'm a huge book lover. My favorite genres are science fiction and fantasy, and I blog about them over on The Illustrated Page ( But here on Her Campus I'll be writing about all sorts of things.