What’s Up Wednesday: How to get free books

So after last week’s post about building a kick-butt summer reading list, I’m kind of feeling a little like this:

read all the things

So this week I thought I’d share some info on how to get some books for your list that are super cheap or even free. One of the things I HATE about ebooks is the “all sales are final”  caveat that comes alongside of them. It makes committing to a book difficult at times because you don’t want to be stuck with an unreturnable dud. BUT, one of the things that I absolutely LOVE about ebooks is the plethora of new and self-published authors who want you to buy/like their work, so they’re books are very often incredibly cheap, if not free. In addition, bestsellers and other super popular books also often go on super sale, as long as you know when and where to look. So how do you get these awesome deals and freebies?

First and foremost…

1. Check your library

Seriously, this is still one of the best ways to read great books without having to risk shelling out $10 a pop for something you may not even finish. Overdrive has ebooks in epub and Kindle format, so it works for everyone. They also offer audiobooks, but their selections tend to not be as great. Check your library’s site to see if your they have a partnership with them, and if they do, get a library card ASAP if you don’t already have one.

This came in very handy when I read the finale to the Divergent series and barely got halfway through. Some examples of books available through Overdrive are Kiera Cass’s The Selection series, Veronica Roth’s Divergent series, Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy, and John Green’s The Fault in our Stars.

2. Online stores (Duh)

This one kind of goes without saying, and is really only helpful if you’re getting ebooks as opposed to physical copies. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, iTunes, Kobo, etc. all have sorting features that let you sort by discount and have entire sections dedicated to monthly/weekly/daily deals or free books. On Amazon you can borrow a lot of books for free if you have Prime and a Kindle, and there are books on both Nook and Kindle that can be shared between users.

3. Brick and mortar

If you’re still interested in physical books, definitely look into used. Check in your area for thrift stores and used book stores, check your library for used book sales, and keep an eye out for yard sales. My library has a sale annually, and they always have a little room with books for sale. Used books stores that let you trade in books for credit are awesome for getting good deals. This is a great way to get rid of books you know you’ll never read again. If you don’t have any books you want to part with you can go buy a stack for $.50 a pop at a local thrift store and trade them in.

4. ARCs (Advanced Reading Copies) and free copies from the author

ARCs are freebies gifted by the author to readers in exchange for honest and timely reviews. They’re generally given in very limited numbers (maybe no more than 20). You can acquire these in a few ways. There are tons of groups on Goodreads where authors are offering their books up. One is the Never Too Old for Y.A. and N.A., and the offerings can be found in their Read 4 Review discussion. Another group is Shut Up & Read, and information on their Read It & Reap program can be found here. There are others, you just have to look through the various groups.

Through programs like this I’ve gotten some great books and some not so great ones, so it can be hit or miss. They also offer up books that have already been published, so if there’s something you’ve been looking to check out, see what’s being offered in this area. A nice perk to these programs is that author’s sometimes keep track of reviewers, so after reviewing one of their books you may be contacted to review future books as well. There’s always a deadline though, so if you’re a slow reader or can’t dedicate enough time to getting the books read, then this avenue might not be for you. Groups will ban you if you don’t get your reviews in on time or at all.  

5. Giveaways

Giveaways are also a great way to get advanced and/or free copies. Goodreads has a First Reads program in which you can enter to win copies of books that are either advanced or already published. There are also a TON of bloggers out there who set up giveaways on a regular basis that you can enter to win. Generally you get a better chance of winning the more you follow them. So, if you want the best chance of winning something, you might have to follow them on every social media site in existence. But, ya know, free!

6. Know your dates

Authors and publishers want you to buy their books, so when they’re putting out a movie or new installment, they want to draw in as many new readers as they can. Price is generally a great incentive to convince wary readers to give something a shot. An example? For a couple of days right before the release of the movie, Richelle Mead’s entire Vampire Academy series went on sale for $2.99 a pop, less than $20 for all 6 books.

7. Netlfix-ish services: Oyster, Scribd, Entitle

What’s the difference between the three? Check out this link for some clarification.

This one depends on two things: 1. How much you read and 2. If you like to actually own books as opposed to just borrowing them. I’ve only tried Oyster, and what was so great about it was that it had a ton of series-starters. So if there’s a series you think you might be interested in, this is a good way to check it out without committing to buying a book you end up wanting to run through an industrial strength shredder, metaphorically speaking.

A way to justify paying for a service like this is by looking at your purchasing habits. If you spend more than $10 or so a month on books, it’s worth it depending on what you want to read. Remember to take a look around their sites first to make sure they have books you want to read. I believe Oyster and Entitle only lets you browse the full library, but Scribd actually let’s you search for specific titles.

8. Emailers

Check out services like BookBub and BookGorilla. Each of these sends out a daily email notifying you of deeply discounted or just super cheap ebooks for sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes (sometimes not all three, though).

So there they are, some super easy ways to get some really great deals. Happy Reading!


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Filed under Book lists, Cheap reads

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