Having an infinitely growing list of books to read and an infinitely shrinking bank account are generally not the best combination. As a college student who has plenty of things to budget for, I used to find myself leaving books on my TBR list simply because I didn’t want to spend money on them. But here’s the thing—crossing books off your list doesn’t have to drain your bank account.
Before I go much further, I just want to emphasize that the most direct way to support authors is to buy their books at full price from a bookstore. If you have the money to spend on books, do it. That said, as a general rule of thumb, if the choice is between borrowing books or buying them secondhand and not reading them at all, go with the former. We all want to support authors as often as possible, but sometimes it just isn’t in the budget, and that’s okay! Opting for a cheaper version may just give an author one more devoted reader who will buy all of their books when they have the money to do so.
Now that that’s out of the way, here are my favorite cheap ways to get books!
I know, I know. Obviously. But I just want this to be my first point, because if you spend too much time scrolling through aesthetic bookstagram photos like I do, it can start to feel like everyone who loves to read needs to have a wall of their bedroom dedicated to storing books. Not the case. Supporting my local library is honestly one of my favorite ways to discover new books that I wouldn’t have spent money on.
If you’re a college student like me, don’t forget that there’s probably a local library somewhere near your school! Stopping by to get a new library card instead of buying from Amazon also might just introduce you to your new favorite study spot.
2. The Libby App
If you’re getting audiobooks from audible… stop. Libby is one of my favorite apps for 2 reasons: 1) it connects right to your library card, so you have access to all digital resources from your local library on your phone or computer; and 2) it’s completely free.
I generally use Libby for audiobooks, but they’re great for ebooks too! This is probably the easiest way to access free books from anywhere at any time, so I would highly recommend it.
3. Used bookstores
Like I said before, authors don’t get money when their books are bought secondhand. That’s why I like to use Thriftbooks to explore new authors, and once I really get into a series, I try to buy it full price.
Used bookstores are also just fun places to go and browse. They have books that you might not find at your local Barnes and Noble, so it’s a great way to explore new genres and authors.
4. Borrow from a friend.
Have a book that you want to force everyone you know to read? Lend it to them—and ask them to lend you one in return. There are few things as exciting as reading and loving a book someone recommended to you, and then being able to talk to them about it. And if you like your friend’s taste, do it again.
5. Wait for the paperback.
I know. “Wait.” This is probably my least favorite thing on this list, but paperbacks are generally much cheaper than hardcovers. So if you can do without the dust jacket and/or if you’re good at avoiding spoilers for extended periods of time, this one’s for you.
If you’ve ever walked out of a bookstore empty-handed because you had to save money for something else, I hope this post will help you finally start crossing books off your list. This was not by any means an exhaustive list of how to save money on books, so if you have any more tips for getting books on a budget, I would love to hear them!