Books on a Budget: The Best Ways to Read for Cheap (& Free!)

No matter if you own shelves and shelves of books with a swinging ladder (if you do, I’m jealous!) or if you don’t own a single book, bookworms all have one thing in common: we love to save money. Here are some simple ways you can access books for cheap, and even sometimes free and still get your literary fix!

The Library

One of the most obvious ways to save money is by going to your local library. Not only can you access free physical books, but you may also be able to access audio and e-books through something like the Overdrive service that allows you to borrow digital content. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to a public library. Thankfully, there are tons of other ways to access books for cheap if the library isn’t convenient for you.

Little Free Library

Have any of you ever seen those photos on the internet of cute little birdhouse-looking structures with books inside it? Well, that is actually the Little Free Library which is aimed at sharing all your favourite books with your neighbors. How it works is people put up these waterproof boxes in their front yard, fill it with all the books they’ve already read and want to share with others, and anyone is free to come up, take a book, and leave one of their own! After a while the books will start to change and before long, you will have a little library in your neighborhood. You can also put a notebook inside so people can write their thoughts about the books they’ve left.

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If you want to see if you have a Little Free Library close to you, you can check here. I ended up having one 10 minutes away from me and I didn’t even know it!

Open Library

If you want to read free e-books, Open Library is your place. It is part of the Internet Archive, so it has thousands of them; people can even submit their own. You can get free access to titles like Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy and Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson; some of the books you can also read in other languages. If they do not have a title you are looking for, they do provide a link to where you can purchase it for cheap!

Interested in checking it out? You can do so here.

Thrift Stores / Bargain Bookshops

These are a great way to get books for cheap. I have seen brand new hardcover books in thrift and bargain bookshops for under $10. This one takes a bit more digging and is often hit or miss, but if you are lucky, the reward can be huge. Places like Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Value Village are good places to start thrifting for books.  If you are in Toronto Canada, BMV Bookstore is a good bargain bookshop to look into. If these don’t exist in your area, a quick Google search should be able to pinpoint more local places.

Do you have any other ways you read books for cheap? I would love to get some more tips!


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26 thoughts on “Books on a Budget: The Best Ways to Read for Cheap (& Free!)

  1. Great list! I love using Overdrive through my library and I recently found out that you can sign up for a temporary card without even going to the physical location! I also love BookBub since they email me every day with free and discounted ebooks.

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    • Thank you!! I’ve probably gotten like 100 books from the library in the past year, it’s such a lifesaver. And when I found out they have e- and audiobooks too I was in heaven. It’s sad that not everyone has access to one, I wish everyone could experience the library

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      • That’s so many books!! And yeah I definitely think it’s something we take for granted. I’ve seen a lot of discussions, especially from international bloggers, who have raised the topic of the lack of library access and therefore a lack of access to as many books as we do. If only there were a global library system! With ebooks and audiobooks that anyone in the world could check out!

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      • Me too!! I even heard they’re trying to get rid of some libraries in places all together which is insane. That’s why I tried to steer away from the obvious answer for me which is the library and try to find other ways people can read for less. Totally agree with the global library, that would be an awesome idea!!

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  2. Yes! You’d be surprised how many of these “how to read for cheap” articles I’ve read that haven’t included libraries!! It’s the most obvious way! & like you said there are so many digital options now that you don’t even have to leave your house anymore 😀 Happy Reading!!

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    • Omg really?! That’s the first thing I think of! Ahahah I know, it’s a huge reason as to why I read more digital books now. You don’t have to leave your house to take them out or return them 🙌 and thank you, happy reading to you as well! ☺️

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  3. Wow this is so neat! I have never heard of the little free library before! There are quite a few in the next city closest to mine 🙀

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  4. Love this post! ☺️ Most of the books I read are from my library and Overdrive (although I use the Libby app, which is connected to Overdrive haha). I’m so grateful to have access to a library near me; I wish everyone did too – libraries are amazing! 💕

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  5. This post is so important, especially with all the discussions about alternatives to pirating books going on right now. I’m definitely going to check if there are any Little Free Libraries near me and check out Open Library! Thanks for the resources 🙂

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      • I always thought it was a cute idea and then I randomly came across one about 45 minutes away from me and I was so excited! I really want to go back and bring a few books and see if anyone has added any books. I hope you find one 🙂

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  6. […] I recently came across Leisha @ LiteraryLeisha’s blog posts on buying books on a budget: Reading On a Budget: Where To Find Cheap Books and Reading on a Budget: How To Get Books For FREE! and Catherine @ This is One For the Books wrote a great post on this topic too: Books on a Budget. […]

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