As bookworms, we have a nearly uncontrollable urge to devour stories. Without a book in our hands or our bags, we feel alone, lost. If you hit the bookstore often (which I highly recommend), the habit can get a bit expensive. And if you’re like me (supporting a husband through graduate school), you don’t always have the extra cash to splurge on books. Well, luckily for all of us, there are lots of great ways to read new books for free.
Here are just a few:
Your local library
Yes, these still exist. I’ve been using mine ever since we moved to New Haven, and I forgot just how freeing it can be.
Email book blasts
There are tons of email lists you can sign up for that will send you a daily/weekly list of free (or discounted) books customized to your tastes. (Authors: these are also a great way to advertise.) The biggest is BookBub, but there is also FreeBooksy, The Fussy Librarian, and several more.
It may take a long time to search through the sites and find an interesting title, but it can be done. Many independent authors offer a free book (especially the first in the series) to introduce you to their body of work.
Offer book reviews
Books live and die by reader reviews, and often, authors will provide free copies to readers in exchange for a review. While it’s not polite to just go around asking authors for free books, they’ll usually advertise when they would like to give them out on their website, social media, or email newsletters. And, if you review books regularly on Goodreads or a blog, the authors may even come to you!
Another great way to get free books to review is NetGalley. This is also one of your only opportunities to get free traditionally published books. It’s totally free to sign up as a reviewer, and you can download anything that looks exciting to you.
Speaking of Goodreads, it allows authors to host paperback giveaways. Also, Amazon has recently introduced ebook giveaways (find them by searching #AmazonGiveaway on Twitter), and independent authors often give books away in conjunction with blog tours or new releases. There are plenty of others to be found in various corners of the internet, too.
If you enjoy an author’s work (or think you will), find out whether or not they have an author newsletter or reader list. If so, there’s a decent chance that they offer a free book for signing up or the opportunity to receive an advance review copy of unpublished works.
Participate in a book exchange
Find a group of friends or other readers who are willing to do a book trade. This way, you can make room on your bookshelves and introduce your favorite books to someone new.
How NOT to get free books? Illegal downloads or other forms of copyright infringement. Sure, big publishers and established authors may not “feel” the effects of pirating, but we up-and-coming authors need every sale we can get (for things like sales rank and exposure, not just money to write more books). Your $0.99, $2.99, or even $14.95 goes a LONG way.
How to “pay” an author for a free book
If you enjoy one of your free books, there are a few ways you can “pay” the author that are incredibly valuable.
- Leave them a glowing review on Goodreads and/or online retailers.
- Share their work through social media or old-fashioned word-of-mouth.
- Send them an email or shout out on social media.
- Sign up for their newsletter or follow them on social media.
- And, of course, keep them in mind next time you have room in your book budget!
I hope this helps you keep your inner bookworm and your wallet satisfied. Happy reading!