The only thing I like more than reading is reading for free. I read a number of books every year and I save a fortune by finding multiple ways to read for free. I’ll let you in on all of my secrets for reading for free.
Head to Your Local Library
Libraries are cool, man! No seriously, I love a library and odds are yours will surprise you. Plus walking into the library and walking out with a stack of books FOR FREE scratches a shopping itch!
Ask if your library has a Lucky Day shelf where new releases and popular books are available for people who happen to be in the right place at the right time.
Update: while overdrive still works online, the app is no longer functional. If you haven’t done so, connect your library cards to Libby!
Overdrive and Libby are essentially two versions of the same app. Libby was created by Overdrive and has a different format without all of the features of Overdrive itself.
I prefer Overdrive personally because I can recommend books to my library from inside the app. Currently, that’s a feature that Libby doesn’t have. Many people prefer Libby and I’ll admit that it’s certainly a pretty layout, but my heart belongs to Overdrive.
Overdrive is a free service offered by many libraries that gives you access to ebooks and audiobooks. While this is not the only service that libraries use, it is the most prevalent.
Within Overdrive you can download ebooks to your Kindle or read them within the app. You can also download MP3 audiobooks. Overdrive is free to use and can be accessed with your library card.
Many libraries have a limit on the number of holds that you can have at once. I like to keep books above and beyond my hold limit on my wishlist within Overdrive. Once a hold turns into a loan, I add a new book to my holds list from my wishlist.
If you find a book that your library doesn’t own, you can easily recommend that book to your library. If your library purchases the book, it will automatically be added to your holds.
An additional service that many libraries subscribe to that is also free with your library card is Hoopla. Hoopla gives you access to ebooks, audiobooks, music, movies and television.
Unlike Overdrive, you can’t transfer Hoopla ebooks to a Kindle device. Rather they have to be read within the Hoopla app. This for me is a dealbreaker. I am loyal to my Kindle and hate reading on a backlit screen. I do often use Hoopla for audiobooks, however.
Another thing that sets Hoopla apart from Overdrive is that all items in their library are immediately available. There are no hold times. However, you might find late in the day that your library has reached it’s maximum number of borrows for the day. You’ll have to check back the next morning.
Finally, Hoopla has a limit on the number of items you can borrow in a month. My library has this limit set to six. Since I only use Hoopla for audiobooks, this isn’t a problem for me.
Prime Reading is a service available for free to Amazon Prime Members. You can have up to ten books on loan at any one time. There’s no time limit, so you can hold onto books for as long as you need to finish them.
Many books within Prime Reading include the audible narration for free also, and this is my favorite perk.
The titles available on Prime Reading cycle with time. While you won’t be able to find everything on your TBR list, there is likely something you’re interested in. I wouldn’t subscribe to Prime simply for this service, but it is a nice perk.
One thing I love about Prime Reading is Amazon Original Stories. I loved both Forward and the This Can’t Be Happening Collection, especially with the Audible Narration option. Since these are all short stories, it was nice to have these on hand as an alternative to podcasts, all free with your Prime subscription.
If you’re already reviewing books somewhere online (Instagram, Goodreads, a blog) then you should join NetGalley. NetGalley provides free advance reader copies (in the form of ebooks) to reviewers.
The best advice I can offer to someone using NetGalley is only accept books that you genuinely plan to read. Publishers will see your history of reviews. They’re unlikely to be willing to send a book to someone who won’t follow through.
I used NetGalley badly for years and have worked hard to rebuilt my reputation on the platform. I definitely don’t get every book I request. However, I am able to get a number of books from the authors that I love ahead of their release date.
Serial Reader App
If you’ve been meaning to catch up on the classics, try Serial Reader. It’s designed for today’s attention span. Each day the app will release a selection of the book that can be read in approximately 20 minutes. This is designed to mimic the days of serial radio broadcasts.
Yes, you’ll have to read the book on a device like a phone or tablet. However, the books and the app are all free.
We’re Your New Best Friends
Hi, we’re Megan and Wendy! Join us every Wednesday for “Approved with Megan and Wendy” – the podcast where we ask each other every week what we’re currently using and loving. Don’t waste any more time or money on products that don’t live up to their promises.
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