I am a book lover. Growing up, immersing myself in a book has been one of my favourite things to do. I have two big book shelves at home that store my memories and my growth. As a matter of fact, one of my lifetime goals is to have my own library at home – a room that contains only soaring book shelves, and a place where I can get lost in the smell of the print and the stories. Even Amazon started as an online bookstore. However, over the years, as I have acquired a larger and larger collection of books, I have realized that not all books are created equal. There are opportunities, even in this hobby that is dear and near to my heart, to save, without squashing my desire to read. Below are some top tips you can follow to save money as a book lover.
Use the library
The library is my haven when it comes to saving money on books. Had I not resorted to the library, I would have purchased a lot more books only to put them on my bookshelves collecting dust. You can browse amongst the shelves in the library and pick up whatever that catches your eyes. With the internet nowadays, you can also just simply browse the library’s website and place a hold on the books you are interested in, all in a few clicks. And the best part is? You can borrow all the books for free!
Of course, the free resources that the library offers do not come without a bit of a cost. You can only borrow the books for a very limited time, even when you can’t finish the books in time. The library may not have all the books you want. There can also be a long waitlist for the most popular books, or a very limited number of copies. For example, I remember that I was on the waitlist for more than three months for A Gentleman in Moscow, a best-selling book that even Bill Gates recommended.
Use Kindle Unlimited
Because of the limitations of the library noted above, I have also been in search of alternatives that are low-cost but allow me to get better access to all the books I want to read.
Kindle Unlimited is such a great resource. It is an Amazon subscription service that gives you access to borrow from a large selection of titles, all WITHOUT DUE DATES! The service provides you access to a significantly greater number of digital books than your local library. Additionally, if you are the curious type, you can also read many ebooks by self-publishers that are exclusive to Amazon.
Using Kindle Unlimited is easy and straightforward. No longer do you have to go to the local library to pick up and return books. All you need to do is to select the books (up to 10 each time) you want to read, download them, and there you go! If you don’t like them, not a problem. Click “return” and the books will disappear into the thin air as fast as they first showed up on your device.
If you haven’t tried Kindle Unlimited before, you can sign up for a free trial. Give it a try today and it may be your cup of tea!
Of course, there is a chance that you won’t like the service. If that is you, please make sure that you remember to cancel. Otherwise Amazon will automatically convert you to a monthly subscription plan.
Join a book club and exchange books
Joining a book club is a fantastic way to socialize, meet like-minded people, and save money on books. Not only can you meet other fellow book lovers and enjoy fruitful discussions, you can also participate in book exchanges. Who knows! You may come across books you have been dying to read, or the ones that you wouldn’t otherwise be reading. You may be able to find a book lover with whom you will form lifelong friendships with, or more!
If you have kids who are book lovers, try the Prime Book Box
This is another wonderful Amazon subscription service for parents with kids who love books. It is a program exclusively available to Prime members. Each box contains 2 hardcover books or 4 board books, and they are tailored to the children’s age and preferences. There are four types of book boxes available, for baby-2, ages 3-5, ages 6-8, and ages 9-12. The books are delivered to your door every one, two, or three months, and you can receive up to 35% off the list price of the books!
If you have kids, Prime Book Box is certainly a service that you should consider.
Check out your local second-hand bookstores
You local second-hand bookstores are also a great place to save money if you are not super picky about having brand-new books. The simple and even a bit rustic environment conveys a sense of familiarity that cannot be found in a commercial bookstore. The books are sold at a fraction of the price of the brand new equivalents, and more often than not, the used books are in great condition. If you have a free Sunday afternoon, I recommend that you take a walk to your nearby second-hand bookstore and spend an hour there browsing. You may find some hidden gems.
Buy digital books
If you are not particular about owning physical books, or have limited physical space, then buying digital may be the way to go. Amazon Kindle Store is certainly the first place that comes to my mind. Not only are the kindle versions of the books a much smaller financial investment than their physical counterparts, they also don’t take up any physical space other than your Kindle device. Additionally, even though these digital copies of books are already cheaper than the physical copies, they go on sale as well. Watch out for Kindle Countdown Deals and get limited time discounts on kindle-exclusive books!
Join an online exchange platform like Freecycle
Freecycle is a wonderful network of people who are giving and getting things for free in their own cities and neighbourhoods. The membership is entirely free. The network is all about reuse and keeping as many items out of landfills as possible, and of course, you can find plenty of books there. I personally found two of my favourite Ayn Rand novels, Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, through this channel. The two books are now sitting on my shelf, and I got them for free!
If you want to learn more ideas about how to score free books, my friends at How to FIRE have 20 fantastic ways for you!
Ask for gift cards to your favourite bookstores
This one may seem more like piggybacking off your family and friends, but hey, they like to make you happy! Additionally, they may be secretly relieved that they don’t need to spend too much time figuring out what gifts to get for you! Gift cards to book stores are for sure the best friends for a book lover.
Buy the books you love, not the books you think you will love
This philosophy has personally saved me a lot of money. I love books, but as a minimalist, I find it a bit uncomfortable nowadays to be surrounded by books that I did not enjoy reading and will most likely never read again. As a result, I develop a step-by-step policy for myself, which is the following:
- Try to read the book for free through the library, my book club, my circle of friends, or Kindle Unlimited.
- Obtain a relatively inexpensive digital copy through Amazon Kindle Store if step #1 doesn’t work
- If I love the book and want to keep a physical copy of it, then I will go check out the local second-hand bookstore and see if they have it available.
- Otherwise, I will head to Indigo and buy it!
Of course, sometimes I come across a book that is hot and popular and not available except in the bookstore. If that’s the case, I will at least flip through a few pages at the book store before deciding. I tend to not rely on reviews, because I find reading to be quite a personal experience.
If you are interested in learning about some of my favourite personal finance books, head over to my article here!
Buy books when they are on sale
Of course, if none of the above options appeals to you, you can always resort to the old-fashioned book sales at your local Indigo or other stores. As a book lover, you should always have a reasonable budget set aside to satisfy your inner cravings for books!
You can also consider purchasing the books through ibotta instead of directly from the stores. You will be able to get cash back for your purchase!
I am a self-proclaimed book lover. Books teach me things, help me navigate through the nuances of life, influence my decisions, and impact my emotions. And I have to admit that flipping through physical pages of books with a cup of coffee or tea on hand delivers a sensation and an immersive environment that is unmatched for anything else. So yes, allocate some room in your budget for books, but don’t forget to save in the meantime if you can!
If you are a Starbucks enthusiast, or simply love having a coffee or tea while reading, you may want to check out my article on 25 Ways to Get Free Drinks at Starbucks!
*subject to change without notice.
Bella Wanana is a freelance writer. She is the owner of bellawanana.com, a personal finance and lifestyle blog. She loves sharing with her readers the best tips and tricks on personal finance and how to live a balanced but fulfilling life. She has been featured on sites like MSN.com, Reader’s Digest, The Financial Diet, Yahoo Finance, and GOBankingRates.