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12 Places to Get Cheap or Free Books

books for freelance writersBy Helen Kaiao Chang

I love books – reading, buying and keeping them. I consider books to be an essential part of my practice as a writer, so I’m always looking at them.

But I also hate spending money. Fortunately, with books, I don’t have to.

Here is a list of 12 places to get books cheap or free:

  1. Library – Great place to borrow for free. At my local library, you can even download books online to borrow. The downloads automatically disappear from your desktop after the due date.

  2. Library bookstore – Buy books and magazines cheap.
  3. Goodwill and other thrift stores – Lots of bestsellers in these stores.
  4. Church fundraisers – Great place to get spiritual books cheap.
  5. Garage sales – Hit or miss. You’re dependent on your neighbor’s reading tastes.
  6. Independent bookstores with “used books” sections – Awesome selections.
  7. Borders – Use their 40 percent discount coupons for the best bargains.
  8. Amazon.com – Used books are available for pennies, but add $3.98 for shipping. Another great thing about Amazon is no sales tax.
  9. Online book swaps – Sites such as www.swap.com and www.booksfreeswap.com allow you to exchange books for the price of shipping alone.
  10. Electronic books – Many ebooks come with pre-loaded books and magazines that you can read for free. But you still have to spend $150 to $250 just to buy the reader, and then you can easily spend hundreds more to download new books. So yes, you have free books, but watch your spending.

  11. Friends’ bookshelves – Birds of a feather flock together. Presumably you and your friends like the same kind of books. One of my friends even gave her used books as Christmas gifts one year.
  12. Your own bookshelf – How many books have you bought that you have not even opened? These books are free, because you already paid for them! Besides, you know they’re great topics, because these books were custom-selected for you – by you.

Those of us in the U.S. live in an abundant country. In many parts of the world, books are expensive and scarce. So take advantage of the plethora of books around you, especially when they’re cheap and free.

How do you acquire books?

Helen Kaiao Chang is a grateful ghostwriter, editor and journalist, who can be found at www.ghostwriter-needed.com.

Two newsletters:
Abundant Freelance Writing – a resource for freelance writers including 3x a week job postings.
Writing With Vision – for those who want to get a book written.

Photo by Zsuzsanna Kilian, found at http://www.sxc.hu/

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Cindi

    Anne – very timely post, particularly with Christmas break (and some possible reading time) coming up. Many eReaders are available for download on your computer or laptop at no charge. The classics and many other titles are available for free or at a very low ($1.99 – 5.99) prices. I have downloaded 3 different eReaders to my laptop and am enjoying the free offerings without having to purchase another electronic device.

    Happy Holidays!

    • Yeah, I downloaded a bunch of classics for my iPad… suppose I’ll finally read some of them?

  • I get books at the library (although I’m frequently late, I always pay my fines), used bookstores and the flea market mostly. I try to buy new whenever I can to support authors I love, but sometimes economics dictate a wait. Very frustrating when I want to read the latest Stephen King doorstop and I don’t have the cash.
    Elizabeth West recently posted..Vocabulary- Gee!My Profile

  • Great ideas! I especially love the library. So many books and other resources–and for free! And, neat idea on Amazon.com…

    Toni Star recently posted..Check Out My Latest Book- The Twisted Life of Julia KnightMy Profile

  • I love the library – just make sure to get them back on time!
    Ronda Levine recently posted..What Ive Been Working on September 29- 2010My Profile

  • DeanofDance

    Ebooks are not only provided by those selling readers but also by gutenberg.org and Google Books. There are free readers available for many formats at least for those of us using Linux and I would exect Windows and Mac users as well.

    True, the free books are not always the latest but Dickens is Dickens and Shakespear is whoever he is.

    Go audio-mp3 files of many books are at Librivox.com. Free as in lunch, or beer.

  • Thanks Helen.

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