Books on a Budget

Photo by feedough/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by feedough/iStock / Getty Images

Amazon and other book outlets encourage you daily to spend money on books. For the book addicted, it's an easy sell.

So, how do you resist when you're a book lover with limited funds?* What budget-friendly moves are a bad idea? Read on!

Hard-copy readers:

Join a bookstore book club. Many independent bookstores offer these clubs and give members a 10% discount. Other stores offer frequent buyer's discounts.

Get a library card. Put books you'd like to read on reserve, even before they're released. Many libraries take recommendations from patrons for new purchases and allow those recommending books to check them out first. Check with your library to learn about their programs. (Libraries buy books and authors like them because they introduce us to new readers.)

Create a book swap group with friends. You each buy the books you think you'll love the most, but then you share them. Authors and publishing companies benefit from the initial purchase and word-of-mouth promotion, and you get to read lots of books at a lower overall expense.

Recommend and review your favorite authors and their books on Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, etc. This makes it easier for new readers to find them.

See also "Book Bub" recommendations below. Book Bub alerts readers to new releases and sales of ebooks, but doesn't require you to make a purchase, nor do they care what format you buy in.

Consider becoming an official reviewer Authors need reviewers. If you like writing reviews, consider joining NetGalley (see www.netgalley.com) or other review services that provide early reviews for authors. Many authors cultivate their own early reviewers–keep an eye on their Facebook feeds to see if your favorites are among them. Be warned. Providing perfect reviews is not required. Writers need honest reviews and know that every book is not every reader's cup of tea. But trolls and/or rude reviewers are seldom invited to review another book. 

Used Books—Meh Because I'm an author, I'm not a big fan of used books. Writers don't make a penny on a used-book sale. On the other hand, I'm also a book addict. So if the used books you're buying help out a library, bookstore, or other charity, or if they give you a chance to try out a new author at a low cost, you have my blessing. To appease the fates, muses, and your favorite authors, try to remember to review the book online.

 

 

e-format readers:

Don't feel guilty buying ebooks. Though the price is generally below that of the hardcover or paperback, the percentage royalties paid on ebooks is often higher. You're still supporting both author and publisher.

Book Bub. Book Bub is the king of bargain book services. They send you a daily email in accordance with your reading preferences, promoting ebooks that are on sale. They'll also alert you when your favorite author releases a new book. If your taste in books is more fine-tuned than BookBub selection criteria allows for, search the internet for another bargain book service. There are many specialized ones that focus on mysteries, romances, young adult, Christian novels, or other distinct swaths of publishing. If you know just where to look on a library shelf or bookstore for your favorites, there is certain to be a book service designed to bring you selections of books on sale that you'll love.

Check your library. Many libraries subscribe to services that allow you to borrow ebooks for a limited time. If you're new to ebooks, consult a librarian to help you learn to use the service and work out the kinks. (If the librarian is too busy to help, ask if there's a class you could take or if there's a quieter time you could come back. )

Amazon group plans. If other family members love the same books you do, set up a family group on Amazon so you can share all your ebook purchases. (The instructions for doing this are on the Amazon site. If you find them too complicated, call their customer service line. I've found them very helpful!)

Avoid! 

There are fiends who launch illegal schemes to target book addicts, just as there are criminals who prey on those with other weaknesses. Most websites that offer opportunities to download books "Free!" are pirates.  Legitimate book promoters provide links to legitimate well-known book sellers like Amazon, Barnes & Nobel, Kobo, Itunes, GoogleBooks, or Indiebound. Crooks ask you to download directly from their website after filling out a form. Don't be sucked in. These are typically phishing schemes--attempts to gain access to your personal information. You may be downloading a file containing a nasty virus, giving the crooks all your information plus access to your computer. And if you make the mistake of buying a 99c book from one of these goons, they'll also have your credit card number. Yikes. If it sounds too good to be true, it is! The worst thing? Your computer's operating system is in a complete shambles and your favorite author gets no royalties. It's disguised as a bargain, but is a terrible deal all round.

Bottom line?

Writers love readers. If you're sharing books and talking about books, teaching kids to read or encouraging those that already know how, you're helping us. And we thank you.

*If you're a book lover, I'm going to assume you also want to support authors and publishers and book distributers, and will lean toward those outlets that also benefit those that bring you books.