Inside: You will discover easy ways to get books for free (or really cheap).
Have you ever been so engrossed in a book you weren’t aware of your surroundings anymore? That used to happen to me when I was younger. I couldn’t hear mom calling me to dinner from 5 feet away. And I was always looking for ways to get books for free, or inexpensively.
If you have the need to feed your book habit, or even just want a nice selection of books for your children without the hefty investment, this list of resources should help.
1. Project Gutenberg
Project Gutenberg has over 53,000 free ebooks, making it one of the largest sources online. Most of the books are out of copyright making it possible for you to get these books for free, thanks to the project’s efforts.
The books are scanned into free epub or Kindle books and available for public download. It is a great cause and while free, they do appreciate a small donation or you can contribute by helping with digitizing, recording audio books, or even reporting errors in books.
LibriVox offers the same public-domain titles as does Project Gutenberg, but in audiobook format. We’ve downloaded a few of these recordings to play during long car trips and it certainly helps the time pass more enjoyably.
2. Children’s Books Online
Childrens Books Online is a large collection of illustrated children’s books from around the world. These books are digitized and translated for the site by a small army of volunteers since 1996. The site also gives users the option to view the listings organized by reading level and language.
3. World Public Library
The World Public Library claims to be the largest online collection of ebooks and articles in electronic format. They are currently offering over 500,000 PDF books, documents and audio books in MP3 format. While not free, annual membership is currently less than $10/year.
4. Kindle freebies
You won’t be able to keep the books, but probably one of the easiest ways to get books for free is to borrow them from your local public library. Even better, most libraries now offer ebook options for checkout, so you can download ebooks to your reader. This is especially convenient when you want to save luggage space (and weight) on your vacation.
If the library doesn’t have the book you want, ask them about inter-library loans. Often the library will be part of a large network of libraries that they can access to request harder-to-find titles.
BookCrossing dubs itself as the “World’s Library.” It urges readers to share their books and you can track it across the globe. It is an interesting concept and if you want to find a book to read, you can “hunt” for a book on the website or you may just stumble across one.
This program might make for an interesting school project or experiment as well.
BookMooch is a community for trading used books. The only cost is the cost of mailing your books, and this can be done worldwide.
PaperBackSwap is an online book trading club. You can trade pretty much any book, whether it is paperback, hardback, or textbook. There is no membership fee, you get books for free, and the only cost is postage to mail your books out.
9. Library sales
Public libraries receive book donations on a regular basis or some books are ready to be taken out of circulation. Those books will often turn up at annual library sales where the public can buy the books at a great discount.
10. Garage sales
People often sell outgrown children’s books at garage sales. I know we have sold many through the years. Prices may vary, but you can usually negotiate a good deal, especially on bulk purchases. Even without bulk pricing, books are often 25 cents to $1 each.
11. Thrift stores
Goodwill and thrift shops are another good resource for finding inexpensive used books for children and adults. I’ve seen nearly-new condition hardcover best-sellers available for around $3.
Books are a great way to treat yourself. How do you get books for free?