I absolutely love both reading and the online book community. But it can often feel like you need to have an ever-expanding library, which can be costly. And we are book lovers after all: we love collecting books. However, there are definitely other ways to acquire books without having to purchase them new at full price. Today, I wanted to share with you some of the unconventional, outside-the-box places where you may be able to find books. This post covers ways to get physical books, but if you’re interested in different places to find audiobooks, you can check out my other post about that.
I specifically want to focus on some of the more ~unconventional~ places you might be able to find books either for cheap or for free. Libraries and open resources are amazing, but I want to touch on some other ways that are different, or maybe common but that you don’t necessarily think of immediately. Because with some creative thinking, time, and dedication, you can find some great books for a fraction of the price. I will also note that since I live in the U.S., these are all pretty U.S. centric, but might apply to other countries as well.
Another great thing about these methods is that not only are they better for your wallet, they are better for the planet! Each method I mention requires re-using books rather than buying new ones.
Little Free Libraries
Little free libraries are a trend that have gained a lot of traction in recent years. If you’ve never seen one, they are small structures that are usually built to look like miniature houses that people put books in! The idea is take a book when you need it, leave a book when you have one. They are super fun and I love the way they are a community endeavor. I will admit that although they are very common in places like the United States and the U.K., they aren’t available everywhere. However, in the places they are available, they can be a great place to find books! You can use websites like https://littlefreelibrary.secure.force.com to find ones that are close to you.
This may seem weird, but you would be surprised at how frequently thrift stores have books available! They are usually going to be older books (you’re not going to find many new releases), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any good ones. If you have books from a few years ago that you are interested in, they are definitely a good resource. I find that a well-stocked Goodwill will usually have a pretty solid collection, and every so often you find a real treasure. Anything that was really popular about 10 years ago is almost definitely going to be at a thrift store (Twilight, John Green books, etc), and there will frequently be books that were hugely popular in the past couple years (or what I call the suburban mom book club books). There are usually classics available as well. So if you are anything that fits into these categories, it doesn’t hurt to check your local thrift store. I once found the complete works of Shakespeare at a Goodwill, no you never know!
Swap and Borrow with Friends and Family
This is another method I am a big fan of! My family shares books all the time. If there is a book somebody likes, we pass it around between us for the next year (or two; there’s a lot of us) while everyone takes a turn reading it. I also enjoy swapping books with my friends. If a friend recommends a certain book to you, maybe ask if they have a copy of the book you can borrow. You can even loan people some Kindle books if you are long distance. You also get the added benefit of getting to discuss the book with them afterwards!
Scan the offerings anytime you see something that says ‘Free Books’
This is not a method for when you have a book in mind and really want to find it. It is a way to find hidden gems. You are not going to be super successful with this method. Nine times out of ten when I look at a free book pile, I don’t find anything good. But that one time in ten can be worth it! You don’t need to spend a lot of time combing through the offerings, but giving them a quick scan can be worth it. This is how I got my copy of 84 Charing Cross Road. It was a book I had on my tbr for a while, and I happened to find it on a free book shelf. It definitely helped that this is an old book. But you never know when you’re going to get lucky!
Have you ever gotten a good book through any of these methods? Do you have any other creative strategies you use to get books? Let me know in the comments!