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Summer Reading: Free and Cheap Ways to Get Books

Summer Reading: Free and Cheap Ways to Get Books
Kate Loweth

School’s out and you know what that means – summer reading time! Even if you don’t have kids, summer is a great time to bring some books to the beach and enjoy the outdoors.

But at around $10 a pop, a bookworm can easily spend over $100 on books in the summer. Personally, I’d rather use that money at the farmer’s market or for a great summer concert. Here are some ideas to cut your book spending down so that you can use your summer cash in other ways!

The Library

It might seem like an obvious choice but the library is my first stop for summer reading, especially for my kids. I signed them all up for library cards and the library’s summer reading program which rewards young readers for all the books they read over the summer months. Plus, it usually includes other free learning opportunities like story time, movie night and science craft night.

If you have a Kindle or other e-reader, you can often find free e-books available to borrow at the library. My library has a collection of classics which are always available to borrow, and also popular titles that you can reserve as they become available. Check out Hoopla, an innovative new service that partners with local libraries to provide movies, music and audiobooks for free to anyone with a library card.

Paperback SwapSummer reading paperback swap

Paperback Swap is a great option if you have a bunch of books that you have already read sitting on your bookshelf. It allows you to trade these books for books that you want to read. You start by making a list of all the books you are willing to swap. This is made easier by downloading their app as you can just scan the book barcode with your smartphone and the book will be added to your list of books available for swapping.

Once your available books are posted, you will get a notification when another reader requests your book. You then print out the mailing info for the book and pay to send the book to the requestor. Since you are sending via media mail, a book typically costs around $3 to mail. You can use Paperback Swap’s system to purchase the postage (which includes a small fee) or take it to your local post office for mailing. After the book is shipped, you receive one credit which you can then use to request a book you would like to read. Books you request are sent to you at no charge!

This is great for avid readers because you can maintain a constant list of books you would like to read. Depending on the number of that book in the system, it could take months for the book to become available to you. Once you read it you can then relist the book and send it to another member!

Project Gutenberg

Does your high schooler have to read The Iliad and Macbeth? Head over to Project Gutenberg where you can download over 45,000 free e-books on many different topics. Because Project Gutenberg is limited to publish only those books that are not currently under copyright, it is a good place to look for classics.

Amazonsummer reading sky

Amazon offers many different options for those looking for a discounted book. Kindle owners can find hundreds of free e-books available and those with an Amazon Prime membership can borrow over 350,000 titles from the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library for free.

Sometimes I just HAVE to have that new Shopaholic book as soon as it comes out. I will buy it new on Amazon and then when I have finished reading it, I will turn around and sell it back! For some new releases, Amazon offers a gift card for books that you trade in. On the book’s page, you can find “Trade in your item and get a gift card” on the right hand side. This will show you the amount that Amazon is offering for the book. Verify the book’s ISBN number (on the barcode), print out the mailing material and when Amazon receives your book, you are sent the gift card. Easy as that!

Used books are also available for sale on Amazon at significantly discounted prices. Search for the title you want and under each book format you will see an option for “Used,” “New” and “Collectible” if those options are available for purchase. These books are coming from independent sellers so you need to be aware that sometimes there will be highlighting in the book or the cover will be missing. All such issues should be noted in the item description that you can review before purchase. If you wish to buy one of these books, you will simply pay Amazon as you would any other purchase and Amazon takes care of paying the seller.

Books can take your imagination to worlds beyond your backyard. With these options you can get yourself a good read at a good price!


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