When I was younger, I wanted to have a library like the one in the castle in Beauty and the Beast.
Do you remember it?
It had like a gazilion books filling floor to ceiling shelves. It had a rolling ladder attached to the shelves, and I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen.
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At nine, I decided my first adult house would have a similar library.
In our first house, my husband built floor to ceiling bookshelves with window seats. Our meager library took up about 5% of the space, and we daydreamed about filling it with contemporary best sellers and classics alike.
Then, I became a mom. Now my library is more Llama Llama than For Whom the Bell Tolls.
Which is just as well because the logistics of keeping up a library seem completely overwhelming.
Now, my primary goal in house maintenance is to simply keep it clean enough.
I quit trying to be a minimalist, but I still try to keep our possessions pared down to those things that really bring us joy.
I get less and less joy from a stack of books I’ll never read again, so I do my best to borrow all of my books or get them for free. Then I have less guilt about wasting money on books I’ll read once and then never read again.
Here are five places I go to get books for free.
1. Prime Reading
If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you already have access to their extensive lending library.
They have books, magazines, and audiobooks that you can borrow for free. The books do have to be read on a Kindle device, but Amazon frequently has great sales on their Kindles.
If you’re not an Amazon Prime member, and you’d like to try a free 30 day trial, click the banner below.
2. Kindle Lending Library
This is incredibly similar to Prime Reading except that you can access the books through your Kindle or Kindle app instead of your Amazon account.
The Kindle Lending Library has different titles than Prime Reading, so it’s not just the same program with a different name.
The books can be added to any Kindle or device with the Kindle app. Including your kid’s Fire tablet. So you can add your books under your account on their tablet.
3. Your Local Library
Okay, if you haven’t heard of a library before, it’s this cool place filled with books that you can borrow. It’s usually free for people who live inside the city limits. If you live outside the city limits, you can usually buy an annual library pass for a reasonable price. Most libraries have movies as well as books that you can borrow.
But seriously, my kids LOVE going to the library.
And I sometimes forget about it because it seems so antiquated in our fast paced, technology driven world.
And then they’ll remind me that our books are due and we’ll spend an hour there because they have the best time just browsing the books.
A plus of using the library is that it helps to teach kids to take care of things. For example, my kids will treat a book they own terribly, but will be extremely careful with the library books because they know they’ll have to pay for any damage to the book and that if they damage the book other kids won’t get to enjoy it.
Plus I’m terrible at choosing books. I pick them based on their cover which, I know, goes completely against that saying. And I often choose a book that I don’t like at all. But since I borrowed it, there’s no guilt in only reading half of the first chapter before returning it.
Many local libraries participate in a free lending program for audio books as well which is my favorite thing about the library.
Sometimes the soothing voice of Malcolm Gladwell is the only thing keeping me sane while the kids are jamming out to Kidz Bop.
Many libraries use Overdrive to check our their digital audio books.
It’s totally free to use, but you do have to have a library card to sign in. There’s no limit to the number of libraries that you can add to your Overdrive account. And there are several large libraries that offer library cards to non-residents if your local library doesn’t have enough.
(If you’re lucky enough to live in Texas, the Houston Public Library offers free library cards to all Texas residents. You can fill out the application online in about five minutes. (Membership gives you access to over 13,000 audio books on Overdrive!)
This blog post from The eBook Reader has a list of Where to get eBooks if Your Library is Lacking. He even has the annual prices for the library cards.
5. Paperback Swap
Lastly is a website called Paperback Swap.
It is exactly what it sounds like.
You put the books you’d like to get rid of on the website and when someone requests your book, you mail it to them. You do pay the shipping fee to mail the book (with media mail, it’s about $2.50), but then you get a credit for a book. The owner of that book pays to ship it to you.
Since these are physical books, the process can take a little while, but it’s a great way to clear out some of the old books you never read anymore.
If you use my Paperback Swap referral link, we’ll both get money credited to our accounts!
While an Audible membership isn’t free, the trial is.
And if you sign up for the free trial using my link, you’ll get two books totally free!
My husband and I love listening to audio books because you can still do stuff while reading a book, and the app allows you to speed up the narration so you can listen as fast as you can read.
It is a multitasker’s dream come true!
Audible is a great source for audio books because they have so many, and they have a “Great Listen Guarantee” which means that you can exchange any book that you’re dissatisfied with within 365 days of your purchase.
And you can be dissatisfied for ANY reason. Like you just didn’t like the book or the narrator’s voice. They give you a credit back without any hassle.
So basically, you pay a monthly fee which gets you one or two audio book(s) per month (depending on the plan you select) and 30% off any additional books.
If you don’t use your credit one month, then it carries over to the next month.
For our family, it’s worth the expense.
Because, as I mentioned before, there’s only so many Chipmunks songs an adult can handle before they start to lose it.