Not everyone has the funds to buy all the new hardback releases they would like to, or pay full price for every book they read during a year. I know I couldn’t, and yet I am very fortunate to be in a financial position that means I can afford to buy a few books every month, and receive books from family for birthdays and Christmases. There are several different ways that you can read on a budget if your funds are a little tight, or you don’t want to be spending hundreds of pounds a year on books that’ll clutter up your shelves (though I don’t think books are clutter!). These are all methods that enable you to get lots of books without breaking the bank!
I honestly don’t know if libraries are open at the moment but, when it is safe for them to do so and for everyone to go out without unnecessary risk, libraries are the best way to read on a budget. In the UK, it is free to take out library books (I don’t think this is the case in the US but I think it’s less than a dollar per book — feel free to correct me as I’m really not sure). They often have very recent releases and you can also request for your local library to buy and stock a particular book.
This is basically a digital library linked to your local library. You will need a library card to use it, and titles vary depending on where you live, but this is another amazing free resource that gives you access to hundreds of ebooks and audiobooks. I love using BorrowBox, particularly for audiobooks, and I have found a great selection of books to listen to. Some do have fairly long waiting lists, particularly if they’re very popular books, but this is no different to waiting for a physical book.
I love Scribd and I recommend it always. Scribd costs £9.99 a month and gives you virtually unlimited access to hundreds of audiobooks and ebooks, as well as podcasts and magazines. They have so many new releases available — I was able to listen to A Song of Wraiths and Ruin a month before the physical book came out in the UK — and I would never run out of things to read if I only used Scribd. In my opinion, it is far better value for money than other subscription services, such as Audible, as your monthly payment gives you access to hundreds of titles, rather than only allowing you to choose one book.
Sadly, this is not an ad (Scribd sponsoring me would be a dream though!!), but you can use my referral link — https://www.scribd.com/g/82zaa2 — to get a 60 day free trial. Usually, this would also give me 30 days free, but I am an Apple user and Apple doesn’t let you claim free membership, which is very annoying!
4. Kindle Daily Deals
Every day, certain ebooks are reduced to £0.99, and by checking them daily you can find some real bargains! They often have at least some new and popular releases, and it is a much cheaper option than buying the physical books.
More generally, if you have a phone, iPad or e-reader, buying ebooks is a much cheaper option than buying physical books. Personally, I love reading physical books, and I also love seeing all of the books I have read and loved on my shelves, so I don’t buy too many ebooks, but I do I know a lot of people who prefer ebooks too. In general, ebooks are about half the price of a physical book, and about a quarter of the price if it’s a hardback. This is a much cheaper alternative if you are trying to stick to a budget, or can’t spare £20 for a new hardback.
6. Charity Shops
If this isn’t the first post of mine you’ve seen, or you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you’ll probably know that I’m a little obsessed with charity shops. I have found so many amazing bargains, picked up new releases, books I’d seen amazing reviews for and books I’d never heard of and ended up loving. I have really missed them over the last few months, but have no intention of going in them until it is safe to do so. But, when they do eventually open, this is one of my favourite ways to find books when you’re on a budget. I can spend £6 — which could buy me one new book — and leave with between 6 and 12 books. It’s great, and charity shops account for about 60% of the books on my bookshelves. If you’re interested in learning more about charity book shopping and my experiences with charity shops, you can check out my other posts:
7. World of Books
This is a great online secondhand book shop. It is a great alternative to buying books new, and to charity shopping whilst the shops aren’t open. Surprisingly, they often have pretty new releases on their website, and you can also find a huge selection of older releases. The only thing to be wary of is the condition of their books. Occasionally a book will say ‘excellent’ condition and I personally think they’re being a bit generous. It’s nothing drastic — the books don’t turn up with missing pages or torn covers or anything — but sometimes the spine is quite cracked with definite signs of wear that I’d expect more from ‘good’ or ‘acceptable’ condition. That is why I personally prefer charity shops, as you can clearly see the book’s condition, but I have been happy with 99% of the books I’ve received from them.
8. Book Swaps
I’ve seen a few people on BookTube and bookstagram do book swaps. These can be between friends or colleagues you know in real life (I’ve always hated that phrase as it’s not like the people I know on bookstagram are fictional, but you know what I mean) or between friends online, or even strangers in groups. They are a great way to make space by swapping out books that you’ve read or that weren’t for you, and in return you get some more books that you will hopefully really love. And at most all you’ll pay for is postage.
9. Facebook Groups
This is another great way to find cheap or free books. There are lots of swap and sell groups on Facebook, where a lot of members ask for only a couple of pounds plus postage for each book. I’ve also seen books that are purely swap groups, so again the only thing you’d have to pay for is postage. This is another great way to acquire more books without having to pay a lot of money.
My birthday is at the beginning of July, and I’ve basically only asked for books!! Well, about 80% of my wish list is books. If you celebrate them, I think birthdays, Christmases, Eid, and other holidays are a great way to ask for those books you view as a bit more ‘special’. If there’s a really gorgeous hardback of a book you’d love, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with paying £0.99 to £5.00 for the ebook and then asking for a physical copy as a gift (or just asking for the physical copy if you’re not like me and actually possess patience). Or asking for some of your really anticipated reads as gifts, and buying mostly secondhand otherwise.
So, those are 10 ways that you can read on a budget. Being able to read and afford so many books is definitely a privilege that not everyone has, and at times it can be difficult to feel a part of the book community if you are not buying every new release or showcasing your 1000-book shelves. I consider myself fortunate to be currently living at home and not having to pay for food or travel, and being able to save some money before my next term at uni and have enough left over to buy a few new books each month. There are so many different ways to read and it doesn’t matter in what form you read, or where you get your books from, you are still a reader!
Where do you buy most of your books from? Are you a Kindle person or do you prefer physical books? Do you have any other ways to read on a budget?