I read year-round, but my reading has definitely increased since the writer’s strike commenced. I’ve read four or five books already this year and read another three to four at the end of last year. Summer also leaves me a lot of time to read. In addition, I was recently a grad student, which meant I had to devise method to save money on research books. Today I’ll focus on the ways I save on personal books. Tomorrow I’ll discuss how I saved on college books.
Request Books from the Library
The library is my top source for free books. Granted, I live in a huge city with a huge city library system, but most libraries have access to interlibrary loan so you can get just about any book you want. If I hear about a book on TV, the radio, or a blog, I will usually check it out from the library. I also keep a list of books I’d eventually like to read. If I like a book and will read it again or will use it as a reference, I’ll buy it from Amazon or Half.com. Even with library usage, I have three overflowing bookcases in my apartment.
Organize a Paperback Swap
If you have a small group of friends who are interested in trading novels or popular non-fiction, you can organize a paperback swap. Here’s how to do it:
Poll your friends who are readers and find out how many paperbacks they buy/read per month.
- Ask which friends would be willing to part with their books in exchange for different books for free.
- Set up a monthly meeting date for swapping. For example, the second Saturday of the month at 11AM.
- Month 1: Everyone buys the average number of books the group reads, say 5. The books can be a variety of genres, authors, etc. Just try not to double up on any single title.
- Month 2: Everyone brings their books to the meeting spot. If one person is unable to attend, she should arrange to bring her books to someone else beforehand and can then collect her next set of books from that person afterwards.
- To keep things organized, give everyone a number. These are their permanent numbers. Person 1 gives her books to person 2 who gives them to person 3 and so on until you reach the last person, who hands them to person 1. Next month, they rotate again.
Depending on how many people are in your group, you could get several months of books for the price of one month. Because of the high cost of hardcovers, I highly recommend sticking to mass market paperbacks (the smaller size paperback), although you could agree to include one or two trade paperbacks (the larger size paperback) in the mix, too.
Of course, as a writer, I still recommend that people buy new books. If you love an author, buy his or her books new so he or she can keep writing. If you plan to use a cookbook heavily, buy it new. If it’s your first time reading an author, first check the book out of the library, which pays for the books in its collection. Then tell all your financially stable friends about it so they can go buy it!