Being a voracious reader can get expensive! Purchasing every book I am interested in reading full price would be a complete impossibility with my tiny budget and insatiable appetite! I have incorporated some strategies to get the most bang for my book buck. Here are my three favorites:
If you love reading old books like me, Project Gutenberg is an incredible resource! I received a Sony Reader as a gift a few years ago, but have never purchased a book for it! All of my best-loved 19th Century novels have been procured from Project Gutenberg and downloaded (uploaded? whatever.) to my reader (it’s easy if I can do it!).
I also strongly believe in supporting such a wonderful organization. If you use the service and have a few spare dollars, donate. If you have a few spare minutes, edit! Again, it’s easy if I can do it. I do a page in the morning and feel as if I helped support the project a little bit.
Wallace turned me on to this great resource. PaperBack Swap is magic! Not only can you get rid of your clunkers, but you can swap them for books that you’ve been pining for forever! It’s not just paperbacks. I’ve gotten incredible hardback books. In fact, the copy of Babel Tower by A.S. Byatt that I’m reading right now is a gorgeous, enormous first edition hardback from PaperBack Swap. It’s not just literature either! My most amazing recent swap was for a large, hardback coffee table book of Alice Neel paintings from the 1930s. I’ve also increased my vintage craft book collection by leaps and bounds, not to mention cookbooks. One of the greatest things I’ve been doing is collecting all of the books I read from the library in the 90s but was too broke to buy (yes, I remember them all! I have a memory like an elephant for those sorts of things). If you run out of books to swap (cough cough. I am sort of there right now) you can buy credits for just under $4.
Some people might think it’s a drag to go to the post office, but I love it. I also have this thing for the special edition stamps (did you see the poet ones?! I love to put those on letters to special people). I also have to say that I’ve done 294 swaps so far, and only one person has tried to pull a fast one on me. PaperBack Swap took care of it and it was of no loss to me. I also love getting packages in the mail, and with PaperBack Swap I get to peer into my mailbox expectantly on a regular basis!
The Library is a wonder. I use my local public library to check out (literally and figuratively – har) books that I’m iffy about, and books that I know I will not want to read more than once. I’ve also gotten some e-books on loan whilst sitting on the sofa! That’s pretty cool! The thing that makes me really happy, though, is the access I have to two academic libraries through work and school. Difficult to find, narrowly focused scholarly books? You’re covered. Journal articles? Scads! My absolute miracle, though, is having access to the OED. I swear, it’s worth the price of tuition alone!
Many academic libraries let you join for a fee (for example, the school I attend is a public university with an area outreach mission, and the public can join for only $100 a year. A private university such as the University of Pennsylvania allows membership for $400 a year). Us bookworms are usually life long learners, and access to an academic library is like access to the most jam-packed treasure chest imaginable. Ah! I want to go there right now!
Do you have any money saving tips on feeding your inner bookworm? I’d love to hear (and use!) them!