book lover on a budget

Book Lover on a Budget

As any true book lover knows, reading can be an expensive hobby. I wish I was the kind of person who could restrain herself from buying books when I have a dozen to read – or, truthfully, an entire room to read. But I’m not. I love the feel of a book in my hands, and I love having tons of great books to choose from when I’m looking for what to read next. Unfortunately, my budget doesn’t always share this love.

A few weeks ago, I read a BookRiot post titled, “How To Be a Book Lover on a Budget.” I shared it on my Facebook page, and made the comment that I was surprised at several of the options they left off the list – including BookRiot’s own daily deals email. When I posted it, I realized, hey, I could do a post too! So here we are.

BookRiot included sources like the library, thrift stores, public domain sites, and free trials, so I won’t cover those here. Instead, I’m rounding out my list with my favorite sources. Many of them are ebook sites, but I’ve also thrown in a few suggestions for those of you who love physical books (I’m right there with you!).

These should keep you drowning in books for less than the price of a pumpkin spice latte.

BookRiot’s Daily Deals Newsletter

BookRiot has a TON of great book-related content (if you’re on my Facebook page, I share a lot of it there!), but they also have a daily deals newsletter. Each day, it lists one or two featured ebook deals. At the bottom of the email, there’s also a list of past deals that are still valid. I love this feature, since I don’t always read the daily deal newsletter every day. Rather than clicking through half a dozen outdated emails, I can just delete everything except the most recent, and find out what’s still on sale. Most of the deals are in the $2-$4 range, though I’ve seen a couple as high as $10. Sign up for the BookRiot Daily Deals Newsletter here.

Goodreads Deals Newsletter

If you’re a Goodreads member, you can subscribe to ebook deals based on the books you want to read. You select your genres, then they search for books and authors on your shelves. Truthfully, this is my least favorite of the deal newsletters, because I often don’t have a clue why they’ve recommended a book to me. Prices here are also usually in the $2-$4 range, and signup is easy. If you’re not a Goodreads member, get on it – it’s free and amazing!

BookBub Daily Deals Newsletter

The powerhouse of ebook deals, and my personal favorite, BookBub offers a practically endless source of free and cheap ebooks every day. Similar to Goodreads, you pick the genres you want to see deals for. What I love though, is that BookBub has tons of free books. They also provide a short, two or three sentence description in the email, so it gives you a little more information about the book. Hands down, I get more ebooks through BookBub than anywhere else. Plus, it’s easy – even my technology-averse mom figured it out and loves it! Definitely check out BookBub!

Amazon Prime Reading

Ok, I’ll admit – this one is only applicable if you’re an Amazon Prime member. Prime Reading is a library of sorts. You can check out books, audiobooks, magazines, comics, and more. You can have up to 10 titles “checked out” at a time, and as far as I can tell, there’s no time limit. So, slightly better than a library, if you’re a Prime member. It may not have the newest releases, but there are still plenty of great reading options. Explore Prime Reading here.

Amazon Kindle First

This one also only applies if you’re a Prime member, but if you have a Kindle or Kindle App, you get a monthly free book as part of Amazon’s Kindle First program. Each month, Amazon editors pick a handful of upcoming books. Prime members have a few days to select one of the books. It’s sent right to your Kindle (or app), and is yours to keep. Typically, the books are from different genres – usually you can count on a thriller, a literary fiction novel, and a nonfiction/memoir, but I’ve also seen a bit of romance, historical fiction, and sci-fi on the list. I’ve yet to actually read any of my Kindle First books, but I appreciate the service!


I wrote about my love affair with Scribd last year. My feelings haven’t changed – I still love Scribd, even though I also now have an Audible subscription (I know, I know). For $9 a month you get one audiobook credit and three ebook credits, and you can roll over up to 3 months’ worth of credits. Scribd also has a vast library of free ebooks and audiobooks, as well as a rotating selection of “Scribd Selects” every month that don’t require using your credits. The two downsides here are that you don’t get to keep the books – it’s essentially a library or rental service – and new ebooks take a while to get added to the library. New releases are almost always available as audiobooks though, so if there’s something I desperately want to read, I’ll pick it up that way. Use my link to get two free months of Scribd without having to use a credit card.

Also, I know – technically Scridb probably costs more than a pumpkin spice latte, but work with me here!

Book Swaps

Our book club does a book swap twice a year, once at Christmas, and again at Valentine’s Day. It’s a lot of fun, and a great way to broaden our reading horizons! What often happens too is that everyone really wants a couple of the books, so they come back again and again. As one person reads the book, they pass it on to the next person. I also frequently swap books with other readers in my life, like my mom and coworkers. Chances are, you have at least one book junkie near you – see if they’d like to start swapping with you!

Library Sales

I haven’t managed to make my library’s book sale in years, but last time I did, I came home with an entire bag of books for $5. Old books, new books, popular books, obscure books…you name it. Libraries often replenish their shelves, and typically sell off the old stuff to raise funds. Follow your local library on social media and get to the sale!!

On the Road

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a shelf full of books in a hotel, AirBnB, resort, cruise ship, or airport for the next lonely reader. Sometimes you have to hunt a little for them, but just ask around and chances are, you’ll find a stack of books just waiting to be perused. And if you’re a traveler, what better way to free up room in your suitcase for souvenirs!

If you do this one, though, don’t forget to pay it forward and donate a book of your own!


So, book lovers, what other free or almost free book sources did I miss? Tell me in the comments below!