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Reading can be expensive. So far I have read 103 books in 2018. I didn’t mean to read that many. At the start of the year, I was reading to research my writing for ThriftBooks. Then so many amazing books were published, and I kept reading. Reading that many books would be expensive but luckily I’ve found ways to read books for free. Oh, and you don’t need to be a book blogger for most of these.
Yes, library books can mean a trip to the library (and checking the library is open). It can also mean waiting for popular books to be available. But did you know most libraries loan ebooks? They still have borrowing limits and sometimes waits, but if you get a sudden craving for an old favorite in the middle of the night, you can start reading immediately. The Libby app makes it even easier (and includes audiobooks). I cheekily have memberships with two libraries, so with Libby, I can check the inventory of both libraries. Libby isn’t just for US libraries, so it’s worth everyone checking to see if your library uses it.
Bookish people tend to talk about their favorites, so publishers are eager to get free copies in readers’ hands. You can follow your favorite publishers on Twitter and Instagram and see them announce contests, or you can join websites that run weekly giveaways. There’s an assumption that you’ll write a review after reading but there’s no penalty if you don’t. Reviews can also be posted with online bookstores and on GoodReads.com, so you needn’t have a book blog. Some offer just ebooks, and some offer print novels. The odds of winning with Bookish First and FirstToRead are good. I’ll sometimes enter a draw knowing I don’t really want the book or have time to read it thinking I’ll never win it, and I win it.
I’m not sure if this is just an American offer, but Amazon Prime customers have two extra options.
Amazon First Reads offers five or so about to be released novels each month. They are from Amazon’s own publishing house, and there’s a trend towards translations. I fell in love with Tiffany Tsao’s Oddfits series because of this program but also learned I don’t want to read another book translated from Russian again in a long time (they are kind of tedious).
Prime Reading is another program for Amazon Prime customers. It’s an ebook library, but there are no waits or due dates. It has a small, ever-changing selection, and Amazon has started commissioning their own novellas to be included (the true crime series was fascinating). I grabbed Gabourey Sidibe’s memoir, This Is Just My Face, over the weekend. I won’t get a chance to read it for a few weeks, but I know I can have it sitting there, ready.
For most the term professional is a stretch. I’ve made 34 cents directly from this site with ads this month thus far. But professional readers are also booksellers and librarians. Thankfully, there are sites like NetGalley and Edelweiss where publishers can share upcoming books with people who’ll talk about them. You do need to be credentialed or have a following and be ready for rejection (you may not meet the publishers preferred audience profile). I was rarely rejected when reviewing marketing books for TapDancingSpiders.com, so it was a bit of a shock when I started reviewing novels and YA books and publishers declined my requests. Sometimes I request a book a little out of my normal, or they list the book as a means to share it with a pre-set group of reviewers, and I stumbled upon it.
I supplement the novels from these sites with the occasional purchase of my own. And as a book blogger, I can participate in blog tours and launch teams organized by authors and their PR teams. And if you’re wondering, I have bought copies of books I received for free. The Book of Essie cover art is beautiful.
Now go, get reading. You have no excuses.
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