Books on a Budget

I am a bit of a bookworm. I love a good book; what I love even more is a free book. There are several ways to get that reading fix for free or nearly free.

Your Local Library

Digital Books

When the Kindle hit the market, I REALLY wanted one. The only reason I didn’t buy one was the limited free content. I’m a library girl. There are not a lot of books that I feel I must own. If I read a book that I love enough to purchase, I can buy a copy. About a year ago, I gave into the temptation to buy an iPad. At the time, my library only offered digital content for Sony readers. But I was confident that would eventually change. And since the iPad is capable of displaying Kindle and Nook books I thought it was a pretty safe choice. Almost nine months later, the local library began offering books via OverDrive. The OverDrive App lets you download ebooks and MP3 audiobooks directly to your iPad and/or iPhone. There is also an app for Android and software for your computer if you prefer to read on your computer. Once you have installed the Overdrive App or software; you can log into your account on your library’s website and add digital content to your wish list or cart. Many items are not immediately available for checkout and must be reserved. I have two complaints about the library’s system; first is the lack of content. There are a lot of books that are not available. And of the books that are available, many of them are only available in WMA format. While you can use these files on your iphone, etc. You can only do so if you have a Windows computer. You must first put the file on your Windows based computer and then transfer to your iphone. The second complaint I have is that checkout times are set at either 1 week or 2 weeks. There is no way to re-check an item or return an item early. If you are not finished with the book when your time runs out, you are out of luck; the file will stop working on your device. If you are not finished with the item and need to renew you must start over by checking out the item again (assuming it’s available). Overall, I really like this system and have enjoyed several EPUB and MP3 books. You can search for a library that offers Overdrive here.

Physical Books

Of course, you can always go old-school and check out books from the library. Many libraries have online systems where you can search for books and place reserves to pick up the books at your preferred library. The library will then email you when the book is available. The nice thing about checking out the physical book is that if you need another couple of days, the book isn’t going to disappear from your house. You just pay the daily fine.

Paperback Swap

Paperback Swap is a great option for inexpensive books. At the site, you post books that you are willing to send to other members. When another member requests a book from you, you ship it to them. When they notify the system that they received the book you get a credit to use on a book that you want. While it’s more expensive than the library, Paperback Swap is a great option for books that you want to take your time reading. Just keep in mind that some of the books have been in the system for some time; they will be in similar or possibly worse condition to a library book. While most people are understanding of that, some members seem to expect like-new books. On occasion, people requesting books will make demands on the request – usually that they come from a non-smoking home. I don’t smoke, but I usually decline those requests if I received the book from Paperback Swap. I have no idea where these books were before they were in my home. The other drawback is that some books can take awhile to become available. There are a few books on my wish list that have been there for more than a year. Paperback Swap also offers audiobooks. They usually require two credits, as opposed to the one required for books.


If you’ve tried selling stuff on Amazon, you’ve probably discovered that some people sell books for next to nothing. Many popular books can be purchased this way. This isn’t the best option for more obscure books; but if you’re a little behind and looking to get a copy of the book everyone read last year, this might be a good option. Also, Amazon occasionally offers Kindle books for free. I recommend going to their Kindle Store Limited Time Offers and sorting by price. A lot of these are not books that you will be interested in, unless you’re a big fan of trashy romance novels. But I recently got the Kindle version of Margin for free. It had been on my wishlist for awhile after reading this review several years ago. Amazon is currently offering several Gooseberry Patch Cookbooks for free along with a few novels that have really good reviews. You do not have to own a Kindle to read a Kindle book. Amazon offers apps and software for iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Android, Mac and PC.

Barnes & Noble

Barnes & Noble offers free Nookbooks and Nookbooks under $5. Like with Amazon, you will need to do a little digging to find something of interest. I have found that if Barnes & Noble is offering a book at a low price, Amazon will usually offer the book at the same price. For example, when researching this post, I noticed the Barnes & Noble had Same Kind of Different as Me priced at $4.74 (an excellent book, by the way); when I checked Amazon, they were offering the book at the same price. So if you prefer the Kindle format or have an Amazon gift card you might want to double check before you make your purchase. Barnes and Noble also offers apps and software for the iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Android, Mac & PC.

Daily Lit

There are numerous websites that offer books in the public domain for free. One of the more original sites is Daily Lit. Daily Lit offers a free email service where a book is broken into segments and emailed to you every day. If you want to read more, there is a link at the bottom of the email where you can request the next installment. I love Daily Lit for those books you feel like you should read but just can’t make yourself get around to reading. Yes it may take more than a year to read War and Peace, but maybe small daily doses are what you need to make it happen. Daily Lit also offers some books more recently published books for purchase. If you are the type of person that has trouble sitting down with a book, this service is for you.

Christian Audio

If you like to listen to Audio books you might be interested in Christian Audio. Every month they have a book that’s available to download for free. This month it’s The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. You do not need to enter a credit card to “purchase” the free book.


There are so many places to find free reading material on the internet. If there is something in particular that you are interested in, I recommend doing an internet search. You never know what you might turn up. In addition to books, many magazines are available for free or at a large discount. I will post on that later. Happy reading!

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