6 Ways to Build a Digital Library on the Cheap

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Once you break down and buy an e-reader, you'll be hooked and buying lots of e-books. Here's how to find them cheap or free.

As an avid bookworm, I said “No!” — loudly and often — to buying an e-reader. I like traditional books. I don’t even mind lugging them around town in my bag. I have several full bookshelves and have used every piece of advice in “10 Ways to Build a Library on the Cheap” to find rock-bottom prices.

But I have persistent friends who not only love their e-readers, they also know how to win me over — by using words like “free” and “deal.” After I found out you can get dirt-cheap and even free e-books, I caved. We now have a Kindle Paperwhite in the house, and I’ve spent the last few months searching the Internet for good deals.

Here’s what I found:

1. Get the classics free

If you bought an e-reader to pick up all the classics you never got around to reading in paperback form, don’t start buying them yet. Several sites have free downloadable versions. Check out:

2. Pick up freebies from major sellers

Major booksellers give away dozens of promotional e-books a month. You’ll have to dig through the free sites, and you may come up with more than a few duds, but you will find gems worth your time.

3. Check deal sites

Much like everything else you can buy on the Internet, deal sites are searching the Web for good prices on e-books. Check them frequently, as deals often go quick. For example:

4. Scour discussion boards

Readers love to talk about books and many of them also love deals. You’ll have to dig a bit, but you can find free books, great sales and other hot deals by reading book-related message boards. For example, Kindle owners often share deals they find on Amazon’s Kindle forum; there’s even a thread dedicated to free e-books. You can also find good deals posted on Goodreads’ Cyberbook Club.

5. Don’t forget Twitter

If you’re a Twitter user, following certain deal accounts is one easy way to find cheap e-books. Just remember to check their updates every so often and pounce on a good deal when you see one. It may not last. Some examples:

6. Borrow

Of course, you could save a ton of money and borrow the books you want to read. Start by checking your local library. Many libraries have started digital lending sites. Online, check out Open Library. The site has more than 1 million titles ranging from classics to thrillers.

Kindle owners can loan books to anyone for a two-week period. However, if your friend loans you a book, he won’t be able to read it while you’re borrowing it. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can borrow books from the Kindle Lending Library. Nook owners can also swap books between friends.

Don’t know many people with a Nook or a Kindle? LendInk.com solves that problem. The site has a database of available rentals through both lending programs.

Stacy Johnson

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