The Bibliophile Edition: How to Save Money When Buying Books (or Read Them for Free)

I have a very expensive hobby/passion. It’s probably not what most would consider as an expensive hobby, but it can be.


I love to read! There’s nothing quite like relaxing after a long, hard day at work with a book in hand (or, in my case, a Kindle Fire). I end up reading several books a month. If, I paid full-price for all these books, I would be spending thousands of dollars each year!


So, I had to come up with ways to save money, while also not depriving myself of the wondrous, reality-escape books can provide.


So, here are several ways to save money on books (for both eBooks and paperback/hardcover):

Find Your Local Library.

There’s a place called a library that holds thousands of books, and they let you borrow them, sometimes several at a time, for free! Seriously, get a library card. It’s easy and free to get one.


Find out if your library has an online library system.

I found out that through my library, I can borrow and download eBooks with OverDrive. You can borrow eBooks, audiobooks and more – with just a library card (which is all free!)



Amazon Kindle.

I got my first kindle as a graduation present back in 2011, and I have loved it ever since. Since then, I have upgraded to the Kindle Fire and absolutely love and recommend this reasonably priced tablet & e-reader combo. I love, and miss, the look, feel, smell and plain-old nostalgia of a real book, but the Kindle is just so much more practical (and eco-friendly). It’s lightweight, small and travels well. It’s easy and simple to find and download a new book when I finish the old one. No need to take a trip the bookstore or library to find another book. When I search for “free kindle books”, I get over 90,000 title results. The blog Pixel of Ink is updated daily with a list of new, free and bargain Kindle books.


Project Gutenberg.

Michael Hart, the founder, created the first eBook in 1971. This website has over 53,000 free ebooks for both Kindle and epub, which can be downloaded or read online.


Planet Publish.

This website has a great collection of classic literature available for free for download. They are free to download because the intellectual property rights have expired and the books are now considered public domain.


Amazon Prime.

Prime Members can borrow one book from the Kindle Lending Library each month. The Lending Library features over 180,000 titles, including many New York Times bestsellers. The books do not have a due date, but you have to “return” the previously borrowed book before you can “check out” another one. Amazon Prime costs $99/year or $10.99/month, but the first month is a free-trial month. There is also a student discount available. I just discovered Kindle First as a benefit of being a Prime member. It allows Prime members to read one (of six) pre-release books for free each month. Not to mention, the variety of other deals and perks that a Prime membership provides including free 2-day shipping, Prime Pantry, Prime Now, music and video streaming, and much more!

Amazon Kindle Unlimited.

For $9.99/month, you have unlimited access to over 1 million book titles, plus current magazines, and thousands of audiobooks with Audible narration. This library of content can be accessed through any device with the Kindle app. Plus, your first month is free!


Little Free Library.

I absolutely love this idea!! Little Free Libraries are small, decorated boxes on a post that you’ll find along a curb in residential neighborhoods. Inside the decorated box, you’ll find a pile of assorted books. You’re free to take one, though you’re encouraged to leave one in exchange for it. I discovered this gem of an idea while in New Orleans.If you’d like to find a Little Free Library in your community, check out their map tool. This is a wonderful tool for encouraging communities to get involved in reading.



Found This in New Orleans!

Thrift Stores.

Explore your local thrift stores to see which ones have good book selections. Sometimes you might have go bin diving to find the books you want.Garage Sales. Garage sales often have super low, rock bottom prices for books, but obviously the selection can be very limited and the condition of the books variable. To save time, you can look for listings on Craigslist and when you see a listing that includes books, you can send a message to find out what type of books they have.


Library Book Sales.

Many libraries have book sales, sometimes a few times a year, to sell off older books. Check with your local library for more details.


Second-Hand Books Stores (or Used Books Stores).

The difference between a used book store and shopping at a thrift store, garage sale, or estate sale is that books are usually sorted and organized and it’s easier to find what you are looking for. These stores usually also accept your old/used books, so you can get rid of your old books for cash or credit.

I discovered when looking for discounts on textbooks for myself during college, but they also have good prices on other books. This is a good place to find deals on recently released books that have only been read once and are still in good condition. After you are done reading , you can then recoup the cost by re-selling it back on



This is the a great place to find out-of-print or rare books at reasonable prices. The trick is to be patient. Try not to get into a bidding war!


Paperback Swap.

You can swap/trade books online with Paperback Swap. The books don’t cost anything, but it works on a credit system. You receive books for free, but you have to pay to ship the books to others. It usually only costs $2-3 to ship a book. You can keep the book, or swap again! There are over 2 million books available!



BookLender is an online book rental service with over 250,000 titles available. You pay a monthly fee and you get to borrow a certain number of books. There are no due dates or late fees though. They have several different plans available and shipping is free.


Book Outlet Stores

The outlet is not a good place to look for new releases, but it is a great place to look for classics. Outlet stores also have sales on top of their low prices. So if you have a book outlet near you, keep an eye out for the buy one get one free sales.


Warehouse Stores.

Both Costco and Sam’s Club often have great prices on books, especially around the holidays. The best deals are often on book collections or sets.


Swap Books with Family/Friends.

I am always borrowing books from my sister (another bibliophile in the family), because we have similar tastes/interests. Family and friends are good resources for book recommendations, but why not just ask to borrow the book as well.


Last, but not least, “Borrow” from your own library

Even after purging and reducing my own library a few times, I still have several shelves full of books.Whenever I’m ready  to start a new book, one of the best, and most convenient places for me to look is at my own book shelves. Why? Because those shelves contain some of my all-time favorite reads and I usually find at least one book that I want to get lost in again. There are also usually several “new to me” books sitting on my shelves as well. These books were picked up using some of the other means mentioned on this list, and I just haven’t gotten around to reading them yet.

Take Away:


Hobbies don’t always have to be expensive and wallet-draining. There are ways to save money and still do what you love.


Your Turn: What are your hobbies? How do you save money when it comes to your hobbies/passions?