How To Read Books For (Almost) Free: Tips To Save Money While Reading

How to save money when reading books scaled

As a child who grew up in an average-income family, I knew the value of books because I didn’t get a lot of new ones. 

In fact, up until I got to university, I don’t think my parents actually ever bought me new fiction books that weren’t part of our school curriculum. 

Instead, I had to borrow from my friends time and time again. When I started earning a little money, I began renting books, and then when I got my first salary, I splurged and bought a whole lot of books. 

I talk about how I eventually ended up regretting the number of books I bought at that point in my life, but suffice it to say, I finally understood why fiction books weren’t exactly a priority on my parents’ list. 

If you are also facing this dilemma and wondering how you can read and support your favorite authors without downloading pirated copies, then I’ve got some very helpful tips to give you. 

These are all author-vetted sources to get books 100% free or for a fraction of the original cost, and I promise you’re going to save a lot of money while reading even more books than usual.

1. Join book clubs

Some book clubs offer their members discounted prices on set books, and it’s amazing because you also have a platform for discussing and sharing recommendations with other readers.

But if your book club doesn’t offer this, you could start a book exchange program where all of you rotate the books in your collection among each other to save money while reading as much as possible.

2. Opt for audiobooks or e-books

Instead of traditional printed books, you could also go for audiobooks and ebooks, which are usually relatively cheaper than paperbacks or hardbacks.

Another cool thing about opting for this format of books is that they don’t take up space in your room since they essentially live on your reading device.

3. Attend book fairs and sales

Keep an eye out for local book fairs and sales events where you can find discounted books for as low as a dollar or less, for both drifted and new books.

Many authors attend these local book fairs and sell their books at a hefty discount, so if this is something you are interested in, you might want to attend a few.

4. Try reading books in the public domain

There are many websites where you can get free books of different genres, so make sure you check those out before spending your money on a new copy.

But remember that aside from books that are in the public domain, many of these other books aren’t to be sent since they would infringe on the author’s copyright, so just make sure you check out the terms and conditions of any platform before you go ahead. 

5. Opt for subscription-based reading apps

Instead of buying every single book you want to read, you can also opt for subscription-based reading apps like Everand, which will give you access to more than a million books for a tiny fee every month.

I mentioned Everand because it is the app I use for reading, so it’s the one I’m most familiar with, but I know that there are others like Audible (for audiobooks), (one free audiobook per month & discount on other books for the length of your subscription), Amazon Kindle (mostly self-published books with more known titles), Epic! (books for kids), Marvel Unlimited (for Marvel comics), Storytel (also for audiobooks), and Spotify (a few audiobooks).

6. Borrow from your library

I know that not everybody has access to a public library, but if you do have a functional one in your city, you definitely want to pay them a visit and see if you can borrow books.

Usually, you can only borrow if you already have a library card with them, so make sure you ask for all the requirements that will enable you to start borrowing from the library.

And a lot of people don’t know this, but you can also borrow audiobooks and ebooks from your library using an app named Libby. On this app, you simply have to fill in your library details to access their collection of books, and then you can borrow them.

7. Consider buying paperbacks (instead of hardbacks)

Hardbacks have a way of making any shelf look 100 times better, but the truth is that they are very expensive, and if you want to save money while reading, you definitely want to avoid buying them.

If you like a particular hardback special edition, instead of getting the actual book, you can get a cover for your paperback, and it’s pretty much the same, plus you save money too.

8. Sign up for free reading apps & websites with UGC

I know that readers usually steer away from Wattpad and Inkitt because their very free policy means that anybody can write a story (lots of UGC – User Generated Content), but there are so many gems on them, and you don’t want to miss them.

Aside from these two platforms, websites like Project Gutenberg host so many classic books which are in the public domain, and even though they are very old, they are still some of the best works of literature you’ve ever read.

Also See: 20 Best Romance Novel Tropes Readers Love & Book Recs To Get Started

9. Follow authors and publishers on social media

Many authors and publishers announce promotions, giveaways, and freebies on their social media channels, so if you follow your favourites, you’re definitely going to snag free or discounted books time and time again.

Anyone who is hosting the giveaway or the promotion will usually lay down some criteria for eligibility, so make sure you read the post thoroughly to get all the information so you aren’t disqualified from the onset.

10. Check out book-swapping platforms or communities

Some websites like Bookey, PaperBackSwap, or BookMooch allow users to trade books with each other for only the cost of shipping, and this is the best because you can refresh your reading collection without spending a lot of money.

And as with anything that happens online, just make sure you are as safe as possible. Remember that you should not share any sensitive details with a potential swapper, and make sure you properly vet them before making your decision.

If you’d rather not sign up or use any of the platforms I mentioned, you can also check out Facebook pages or even arrange something on your own on your local community Facebook page.

11. Find second-hand bookstores

If you are able to locate a second-hand bookstore, you can find great deals on used books, and sometimes you can even get an amazing book at a fraction of the cost of buying a new one.

But bear in mind that sometimes the book you get will not be in the most perfect condition since it has been pre-owned. The previous owner might have annotated it or dog-eared it.

There’s nothing better than reading, and even better if you aren’t being forced to choose between eating and indulging yourself.

You May Also Like: 82 Book Club Questions For Any Book That Will Keep The Convo Going

And these tips are just some of the ways I have used in my life as a reader to save money while making sure that I read as many books as possible, and they are so easily implementable.

There are several other posts on the blog about life as a reader that you should check out – Here’s one about how to finish 100 books in a month & another on how best to set reading goals and fulfil them.


Hi! I'm Preye ("pre" as in "prepare" and "ye" as in "Kanye"), and I am a lifelong book lover who enjoys talking about books and sharing bits and pieces of all the fascinating things I come across. I love books so much that I decided to become a developmental editor, and right now, I work with authors to help them tell their stories better. On this blog, I share everything from book recommendations to book reviews and writing tips, so feel free to stop by anytime you like!

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