I am addicted to books. I love to read, and I love books....the smell of the paper, the pretty cover art, the wonderful stories.
I want all the books. All.the.books.
Unfortuntely, I can't have all the books. Not only do I not have space to shelve them, but I can't afford to buy every book that catches my fancy.
However, I can read pretty much read any book I want to, within reason (no 700 year old tomes stored in controlled environments in Italy, although that would be cool), without bankrupting myself.
I'm learning how to feed my book addiction while still controlling how much I spend.
Here are my tips for bibliophiles on a budget:
1. Use your local library. If they don't have the book you want on the shelf, they can borrow from another library using inter-library loan, or there are digital access sites where you can check out ebooks or audio books using your library card number. OverDrive is an app and website you can use to access digital ebooks and audio books using your phone, tablet or computer. Also, OpenLibrary has many books scanned for borrowing as well. I can use my phone to put a hold on library books I want, renew books, or make lists of books I want to check out later. Bibliophile nirvana! Your local library will have a list of digital sites they offer access to -- browse and enjoy!
Most libraries also have book sales at least once a year. The sales are a great place to get used books on the cheap! Sometimes also DVDs, CDs and audio books as well! (And, for those of us who have bookshelves overfull from too many books....most libraries will also take book donations for these sales. If you have unwanted books hanging around, donate them to your local library and let them use the proceeds to buy new books!)
2. Utilize free and discounted ebooks from online booksellers. Barnes and Noble online has many free or low cost books available for Nook. I have a Kindle, so I use Amazon a lot. There are many free books and thousands more available at low cost. Some are just 99 cents! I purchased a subscription to KindleUnlimited as well, allowing me to borrow books for free and return them when I'm done for $9.95 a month. While that might seem like a high price, I use it all the time, which justifies the cost for me. Let's say I read 5 books through Amazon a month. The average cost for buying a paperback book is $10, so I'm saving $40 by reading them online and giving them back. There are more online booksellers that offer cheap or free ebooks. Google it and see what awesome links you find!
Project Gutenberg offers 51,000+ free ebooks on their website. Most are free domain classics that are no longer under copyright. PG also lists links to about 100,000 more ebooks from affiliates on their website. Dickens, Poe, Alcott, Lewis, etc.....many, many fabulous authors' works are available from these websites. Free. Absolutely no cost. You can volunteer to help proofread or record audio books for Project Gutenberg. Links to volunteer are on the homepage of their website.
3. Trade used books online. Many people trade books on Twitter using hashtags. I've been trading books online for 9 years using PaperBackSwap. You list your books that you have available by ISBN # and other members can request them. Once requested you mail the book out. When the book is received, you get a credit to order a book through the site. Then you can search for a particular book that you want and order it from another member's online bookshelf. You can also buy credits to use on the site if you choose. The site is easy to use. I've gotten hundreds of used books using this site over the years and had very few problems. When I finish books, I list them at paperbackswap and trade them for other books I want to read. Easy peasy. Postage costs to send out a book by media mail range from $1-3, so it's a cheap way to get books I'm looking for.
4. Used book shops, thriftstores, yard sales, etc. There are many places to find all sorts of used books. Garage sales, junk shops, thriftstores, flea markets, consignment stores....there are used books everywhere! Right now I am avoiding looking at too many of these places, as I'm a "Read My Own Damn Books'' warrior this year. My shelves are crammed full and I have to read what I already own!! No room for more! But, my shelves got overfull because I used this very avenue for finding inexpensive books. Find cheap books....read them.....then donate them back, or give them to friends. Feed others' book addictions! An intellectual pass-it-forward! :)
5. Wholesale/closeout/salvage/discount shops. These stores buy stock from damaged freight, bankruptcies, unsold merchandise, etc. They are great places to find books at discount prices. We have a shop called Ollie's in our little town. They have a huge section of books in almost every genre. Great prices!
I'm sure there are other great ways to feed a book addiction and still be able to pay your bills. :) If you have a suggestion to share, please comment! :)
And, while cheap and inexpensive used books are awesome and keep us Bibliophiles very happy....please also support your local indy bookshop! I make sure to buy a couple books or bookish items from the closest one each month, just to make sure I support the people who bring author events to this area and writer's meetings, etc.
With smart choices, we book addicts can keep well stocked bookshelves, support local area business and keep a healthy budget for other things all at the same time!