Ways for bookworms to save money on summer reading

Shelves of books at a library

There are plenty of ways to read books for free, starting with visiting the library. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Everyone knows at least one committed bookworm, a person who loves to read and devours books at a frantic pace. Purchasing books new at stores can be incredibly expensive, but there are plenty of ways readers can save cash on feeding their habit.

Free books

The first leg on a quest to satisfy an appetite for reading should always be the public library. The Institute of Museum and Library Services, the government agency overseeing the public library system in the United States, says there are 123,000 public libraries in the United States, comprised by more than 9,000 public library systems. There are plenty of ways to find a library online. Publiclibraries.com has a list of libraries by state people can browse to find the closest one to them. Many libraries have a “books by mail” program for people in rural areas. If borrowing books is not sufficient, many libraries have a “for sale” section of books, and there are plenty of used book stores one can purchase books from for a steep discount.

For the tech savvy

Since the rise of e-books and e-readers, people have been discarding the page in lieu of the screen. However, downloading books can be an expensive habit. A recent article on Today’s website has a list of free or very cheap sites to download e-books from. Amazon.com has a selection of free e-books for Kindle, and Barnes and Noble has a selection of free e-books for Nook users. Both sites have promotional sections where certain books can be purchased and downloaded at deep discounts. The service OverDrive has a list of e-books that public libraries have available for checkout. Users can download e-books for a couple weeks. Check overdrive.com for a list of participating libraries. There is also Ebook Fling, which lets people lend and borrow e-books for free.

The classics

Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s free book selection, as well as other sites for e-books like the Google eBookstore and Project Gutenberg, includes books considered “public domain.” A work by an author is copyrighted, or owned, by authors or their heirs for a certain period of time, which varies by country. When a book’s copyright expires, it enters public domain and can be obtained by anyone for free. There is no reason to pay for Plato or Plutarch. Project Gutenberg is one of the best known online depositories for classic works in the public domain, and it has a selection ranging from Jane Austen to Aristotle.


Institute of Museum and Library Services

Public Libraries



Ebook Fling

Project Gutenberg

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