Few things in life are as enjoyable as curling up with a good book.
Some of us love nothing more than spending a rainy Saturday with a good whodunit or romance. Others are more practical and stick to nonfiction, just-the-facts fare.
Whatever you love to read, chances are good that you can cut the cost of those books by using a little ingenuity. Following are five ideas for getting your books for free.
1. Trade books for free: Paperback Swap and BookMooch
Bibliophiles — that’s the fancy term for book lovers, folks — can use Paperback Swap to trade books from their personal library for titles from the libraries of other members.
The process is simple. You start by listing one of the books that you no longer want or need. Once someone chooses your book, you mail it to them and receive a credit. These credits can then be redeemed for books you want to read. The site says it has nearly 4 million available titles.
Yes, you have to pay for the postage to send the books out. But that means you also receive the books you request for free. And once you get a book, you can keep it for as long as you like, or swap it again.
BookMooch is similar to Paperback Swap. Just like with the Swap, “moochers” accumulate points that can then be used to acquire new titles.
The site requires you to give away at least one book for every two you request. Fail to do this, and you will not be allowed to “mooch” until you improve your ratio.
2. Free books for kids: Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library
Most of us who love to read developed our affection for books early on in life. Perhaps our parents read to us as a child. Or maybe we remember magic trips to the “bookmobile” to check out a Dr. Seuss or Curious George title.
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library helps keep this tradition alive by providing free books for kids.
Moms and dads who sign up for this service will see their child receive a free book every month until his or her fifth birthday. Books include both classic and contemporary fiction and nonfiction.
Not all communities in the U.S. participate. To find out if yours does, start the process here.
3. E-books and audiobooks: Amazon to Project Gutenberg
Instead of flipping through the sometimes worn pages of paper books, may readers today prefer two other kinds of books — e-books and audiobooks. And you can score these types of books for free as well.
Project Gutenberg offers more than 50,000 e-books that are in the public domain, and thus free. Such books include titles published prior to 1920. Meanwhile, LibriVox offers the same public-domain titles in audiobook format.
There are several other good sources of e-books. Amazon offers free titles for its Kindle. Find the top 100 here. If you prefer Nook, Barnes & Noble also has a list of free e-books.
Other sites that offer free e-books are:
4. Hard-to-get books: Inter-library loan services
Frugal book lovers know that sinking feeling: You have your heart set on a book but end up disappointed when the title doesn’t show up in your local library’s card catalog.
But shrewd library patrons know that such dead ends are not the end of the story. Most library systems offer an inter-library loan service that allows you to request titles from other library systems across the nation.
You usually can find this service — and make your request — at your library’s website. Or you can ask your friendly librarian to help. Best of all, the service is absolutely free.
5. Write for free books: BookLook Bloggers and Blogging For Books
Some sites provide readers with free advance copies of books in exchange for honest opinions of the works. BookLook Bloggers, for instance, allows bloggers to select a free book from available titles in exchange for a 200-word (minimum) blog detailing the blogger’s thoughts about the content.
After the site receives a link to the published blog post, reviewers are free to select their next complimentary title. Blogging For Books is another site that works in a similar manner.
Do you know of other great places to get free books? Share them in our Forums. It’s a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.
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