But before I was a writer, I was a reader. And money has never been something that could keep up with my appetite for books. I've been a coupon queen and purveyor of the sales rack for as long as I can remember. So I thought I'd share some of my tips for reading on a budget.
1. Don't be married to a format.
I absolutely ADORE reading on my Kindle. I love the ability for it to keep my exact spot. Since I can increase the font size, jumping right back into a book is super easy, even if I have to put it down in a hurry. But what I've learned over the past few years is that by allowing myself to be fluid in the format, I can take advantage of a lot of sales. When authors are looking to jump into new avenues, they tend to price things lower. Ebook, paper, audiobook, Radish serials, alternative vendor apps on my phone, all of them are there. Because sometimes an author wants to boost visibility on a certain platform, and they'll price items accordingly.
2. Get intimate with your library, and others nearby.
I'm incredibly lucky to be in a city with a robust library catalog. My library consists of multiple branches and will bus books between them for me to pick up at no cost to me. BUT, I have purchased a PLAC (Public Library Access Card) in the past. For my state, it's only $65 for the entire year, and allows me to drop in and get a library card for any library in the state of Indiana. This was amazing for me in regards to program access the other libraries had as well. But solely on a book level, if you're struggling to find what you want in your library, check out what other libraries are around you. You might be able to pay a small fee and gain access to a vast amount of other options. Or gain library ebook access when you might not have it available otherwise. And libraries buy the copies of their books, so by requesting books you'd like to see from your favorite authors, or supporting your local library by buying a card, you're supporting those authors too.
3. Subscription services aren't all bad.
I'm going to pre-empt this with the fact that I'm not a subscriber for anything other than Audible at this moment. I personally didn't find the value for other subscription services because I didn't use them. But check out the catalogs for online services like Kindle Unlimited, Scribd, Playster, or KOBO Plus. You might find something that works for you, and most of them have free trials. I personally liked Audible the most. Aside from the fact that the books I purchase with my credits continue to be mine even if I pause or leave the subscription, (I'm not sure if this is true of the others or not), I have access to Audible exclusive titles, and even things like guided mediations and Yoga routines. However, some subscriptions require the author to be exclusive with the platform, and for that reason, some of the bigger names I'd like to use the subscription for, won't be available. I'd say to pick your top 10 favorite authors and see what kind of titles you can consume through a platform for each author. If you can't find that many, move along to the next.
4. Newsletters and Mailing Lists are more than junk mail.
Sometimes. I have been thinning out my newsletter and mailing list influx lately, because it got to be too much, and I'm pretty sure at least one or two of the authors I subscribed to sold or swapped my list, because I got some junk mail from people I'd never heard of before. (Authors if you're reading this...don't give your email list to another author. It's a bad look.) But there are plenty of services you can sign up for, like BookBub, that will compile lists of sales. And I mention BookBub because I know authors pay to get on that list, and have an investment involved to make the book they promote be a great one.
Newsletters by your favorite authors are also a great way to learn about new releases, special promo pricing, and maybe even enter a giveaway. So while I'd caution to keep the subscriptions to ones you'll actually want to read, if you're on a budget, they can be an excellent source of information to save you big bucks.
5. Work your present-getting occasions to your benefit.
If your Aunt Cindy gives you another candle, you'd probably have enough to open your own shop. The vast majority of items you get from fairly distant relatives, or well-meaning family aren't things you'd prefer. Let them know you want book gift cards. Talk about it at family functions, tell your significant other to spread the word, tattoo the sentiment on your forehead, just get the word out that you want gift cards to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, etc. Let people know you'd love to get that book bling much more than a blanket this year under the tree. You don't have to tell grandma that you wouldn't wear the jean vest she made, just let her know that you already have one and would love to get a book to cozy up with instead. If they want something to wrap, tell them to grab you a great hard cover new release you don't have the cash to splurge on yourself. If you hate the book selection the uncle you've blocked on Facebook gives you, just return it for in-store credit and grab the erotic romance you've had your eye on instead.
I purposefully left off half price book stores on this list. The reason is, I like to find ways to support the authors who are writing the books, and unless you're buying from the "New" section, resale stores don't send checks to the authors. And don't get me started on the pirates out there sharing books on torrent sites and Google Drives. I hope you all get a virus.
Those are my tips for reading when the cash is tight. What are some of your favorite ways to feed your reading addiction? I'd love to hear about them! I'm diving into my next read as soon as I get this blog done. Happy Reading!