Finding ways to get free books online or books for very cheap is not really my forte. I am not a big flip the page book reader. I prefer audio books or e-books.
However, The Loopy Librarian is a HUGE book reader and was kind enough to offer us a list of ways to get books either free or cheap. Check out her blog or follow her on twitter @Loopy_Librarian to keep up with what’s going on in book world.
She also happens to be my sister-in-law, so I have seen her house. The walls are covered with shelves of books and she got most of them for less than you or I would normally have to pay. Here is here her list of ways to get more books for less.
E-book Deal Aggregators
If you have an e-reader, you should subscribe to BookBub and EarlyBird Books right away. They deliver daily e-book deals to your inbox. The books are often previous bestsellers that the publisher has marked down for a limited time to attract new readership.
Check Author Resources
Most authors have websites, Facebook fan pages, and Twitter accounts where they offer giveaways. If you want to know the latest deal, I suggest subscribing to their e-newsletter.
BookMooch and Paperback Swap offer trading programs. The accounts are free, but to earn points for trading, you must offer some of your own books. This is a great way to weed your collection.
With points, you can then request books from others. You can search for specific titles or you can browse to see what you discover. The only cost to you is the price of shipping which isn’t much if you use media mail.
Goodwill and Other Thrift Stores
Recent bestsellers and book club picks can be found in good condition and in abundance for a song.
Within the last month I’ve purchased books by Greg Iles, Bill Bryson, Nick Hornby, and Patrick Taylor. I’ve also filled in my Janet Evanovich collection.
I am going to throw an extra idea in here. When you are a Prime Member on Amazon, if you choose the longest shipping they will frequently give you cash for some other part Amazon.
Right now they are giving away $5 in the Amazon Pantry (groceries). This is a great way to get a few extra free things for buying your books. –Paul
Friends of the Library Sales
Libraries receive way more donations than they can reasonably put on the shelves. For example, our library had at least 20 copies donated of Memory Keeper’s Daughter.
I bought one for one buck and brought it home. When I was visiting Anderson, SC, I bought a copy of Nick Horby’s About A Boy for a dime. A DIME!! Seriously. Friends sells these books and all profits go to support the library. It’s a win-win.
If you are a book consumer and not a collector then BooksLender.com is a great service for you. Think of it like a Netflix for books and audio books. For $16 a month you get two books at a time and there are no shipping charges.
This is perfect because you can finish one book, ship it off, and by the time you finish reading the second book the next book in your que arrives at your home. This even works with children’s books so you can keep reading new material to your kids without acquiring a million children’s books.
If I’m looking for specific print books at cut-rate prices, I often turn to BookOutlet. Again, I subscribed to their newsletter for special deals and coupons.
My book club is reading The Rosie Project, so I bought it through Book Outlet and 2 other hardcover books, a paperback, and a book of crossword puzzles for $20. I had to pay shipping, but it was nominal. Normally, I hate paying shipping costs, but for deals like those at, I find it’s worth it.
In the case of this particular Book Outlet Haul, I had a coupon code for $10 off a $30 order. They send coupons like this often.
Advance Reading Copies
Finally, you don’t have to be a blogger or a librarian to request advance reading copies of books. If you join – For FREE – LibraryThing and GoodReads, you can request review copies in print or electronic format (depending on the offer).
Your name goes in a lottery of sorts, and the odds vary. If you win a copy, you’re asked to post a brief review on the site in exchange. The more books you review, the better your odds of winning still more books.
In most cases the books are prepublication copies which means you get to be among the first to read them.
Over a five-year period, I’ve won 37 books from LibraryThing Early Reviewers. One, the Orphan Master’s Son, went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and I was among the first to review it!
One great thing about very popular books is that major retailers will overstock them while they are hot buys. This eventually wears off and the retailers will start discounting them.
A good example is how Target clearance will go from 30% to 50% to 75% off. You may not be able to wait till the books go all the way to 75% off before they sell off, but if you bundle them with the Target RedCard discount and you can some really amazing deals.
Final Thoughts on Getting Books for Free or Very Cheap
You can really get books at amazingly cheap prices if you do your homework and put in the time to build relationships. I have thousands of books in my personal library and a large number of them I paid little to nothing for.
If you are a book junkie or a loopy librarian like me then save your self a ton of money and focus on getting your books for free or super cheap.