In my dream house I would have one of those sprawling two-storied libraries with the ladders that swivel around the shelves. It would be packed with everything from fancy first editions (because if I can afford the house, I can afford my dream books too!) to the most ridiculous paperback romance novels. Oh books…I love them all! I may have succumbed to the allure of ebooks, but my heart will always belong to “real” books. Nothing beats that smell (smile).
Unfortunately, I don’t have my dream house or a place to store all of the books I read. I also don’t have the budget to pay full retail for those books. But I love reading, and in the spirit of the Winter 2014 Book Challenge (which just started by the way, so come join the fun!), I thought it’d be fun and pertinent to discuss some other methods of obtaining these magical, written words.
There are very few places that exert a more calming effect on me than libraries. There’s just such a peace and excitement – you just know that anything you want to know is somewhere in those walls (unless it’s already checked out but that’s beside the point…). But seriously, libraries are the greatest first alternative to finding books without having to break the budget. Membership is free and generally pretty easy. Most libraries these days have websites so you can search ahead of time, place books on hold, or recheck a book you already have. Even better? Quite a few libraries these days participate in online sharing as well. A library card for any of the municipal libraries in the Phoenix metro area will get you onto the Greater Phoenix Digital Library where you can search for digital editions of the book you’re looking for. The books are offered in different formats so they work on most reading devices.
Amazon/Barnes & Noble “Freebies”
A lot of the “classics” are now out of copyright, which means you can often find them for free (digitally anyway). Amazon and Barnes & Noble also offer quite an array of free/deeply discounted ebooks for your perusal. Just keep in mind that the price – for the newer literature anyway – can be somewhat reflective of the quality. I usually check on Goodreads first to see if it’s worth the time. Not everything that’s free is worth taking! Apps for both Kindle and Nook are available for Android and Apple for your phone, tablet, etc or you can purchase a particular reading device (“E-reader”). Amazon also offers the option to but “Used,” which is worth exploring. I’ve had mixed luck on the quality buying used, but for the price I paid, I’m not complaining.
Google Books (formerly known as Google Print) houses books and magazines that Google has scanned and stored in a digital database. Some books you can view completely and others only a sample. The “free” books are those that are out of copyright or instances where the owner has given permission for sharing. This project was pretty controversial when it started and in some ways still is; however, it’s always worth checking to see if they have a book you’re looking for. Again, a lot of the “classics” are available and Google Books may have different versions than Amazon, etc. This is also an awesome reference for research by the way – even if you only see snippets of text, at least you know which book to look for!
Used Book Stores
If you just can’t find what you’re looking for using the above services, I encourage you to check your local used bookstore. These guys are generally local (yay for supporting local businesses, right?) and very helpful. If you can’t find what you want used, they’re generally pretty competitive on pricing for new books. Used bookstores often offer you the option to sell or trade-in any books you may not want anymore – a great way to fund new reads (smile). One of the local used bookstores here actually has a program where you can “sell” back your ebooks for credits, but I haven’t really looked into that program in detail – yet!
Thrift Stores/Rummage Sales
If you’re up for a little whimsy, try your local thrift stores. A lot of places such as Goodwill and Salvation Army feature book sections. It’s a bit harder to find something you may be looking for specifically, but these are great places to find some new, random reads for great deals!
These days there are so many options for accessing books – which is just so absolutely fabulous!! There are book exchanges online, local book clubs, book sales, yard sales, and all sorts of other online options. Stacey at One Trip At A Time has some other great examples in her post on saving money for travel (this read is a double win people!). I highly recommend checking out (ha) her tips and tricks!
What services do you use to find books??