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Friday, June 3, 2011

Inexpensive Ways to Get New Reads

1. Join Your Local Library
It does not get any better than free. Take yourself down to your local library with a driver's license or a recent bill and sign up for a library card. As long as you return your books on time and in reasonable condition, checking out books from the local library costs nothing. Most libraries allow patrons to check out an unlimited number of books and let you keep them for two to three weeks (except for brand new titles, which most places let you keep for one week). If your library does not carry the title you want, you can often request that your library borrow it from a neighboring library, also free of charge. Also, did you know that many libraries offer e-books? You can download titles directly to your smartphone, computer or electronic reader.

2. Trade Your Titles
Swap sites like, and currently offer over five million books free of charge. These sites let readers trade in titles on their bookshelves for others they would like to read. After listing a few titles, users will get credit for each one sent to another member. Credits can be redeemed for other books on the site. Depending on the site, users will pay shipping to send or receive a book, but not both. These sites have no fees and no hidden charges. Hardbacks, audio books and textbooks are also available.

3. Request Advance Reads Copies
As a marketing tool, many publishers offer advanced copies to readers free of charge. An advanced copy, also known as a readers edition, is a copy of a book before it is released for mass distribution. The readers edition usually lacks a dust jacket, formatting and binding. While it is true that some of these books go to book reviewers and celebrities in hopes of getting free publicity, many publishing houses also offer them to the general public. You can become an early reviewer by joining LibraryThing ( ... _Reviewers), by contacting the author or publisher of favorite titles, or by befriending a local bookstore owner.

4. Host Your Own Local Book Swap
Gather a list of local friends and family and send out invitations. An evite is fine and its free. Include a short description of your book swap, including types of books to swap, the number of books to bring, time and location. Be sure to mention whether you will include refreshments or if you expect participants to bring something to share. Decide ahead of time if the books are being swapped permanently or if they will simply be on loan. If the books will be on loan, include in your invitation how the owners should be designated inside each book - telephone number, email address, or first name are common suggestions.

5. Buy used
You can save a bundle by purchasing used books in good condition. Many towns have stores dedicated to selling used books. Readers can also find used books at Goodwill stores, consignment shops, yard sales and thrift stores. Many local libraries offer annual used book sales as well. Check with your local librarian for dates and details. While they charge a bit more, web sites like and also offer deeply discounted used books for the public.

Melissa is a member of and writes about ways to save at

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