Reading: Not an Expensive Hobby

You might read this title and think to yourself Duh! Libraries, you silly goose! But until about a week ago, I didn’t know there were plenty of other options aside from one’s local library, too. (Because who wants to wait two weeks for Fran down the street to read and return your much anticipated NYTimes bestseller before you can get your fiction-thirsty paws on it, amiright?)

If you are interested in getting books for free, advanced reader copies especially, then read on, dear friend. Read on. (Irony! ..because this blog is free, and you’re reading it, and reading on, and… oh, OK. I’ll stop.)

My good friend over at That Book Lady Blog has been reading up a storm for the past few months, and, as a dutiful book reviewer, she is attentive to updating her reviews on Goodreads. After seeing what is presumably her 345th Goodreads review update with the ending disclaimer “I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review,” I had to know how she was acquiring all of these advanced reader copies. It was madness!

Was she spending hours upon hours of her life entering Goodreads giveaways? Surely she wasn’t spending time entering giveaways in the bathroom (OK, maybe), while working (again, maybe), or missing sleep (unlikely but possible!) to enter THAT many giveaways. So I did what any true literary sleuth does in such a circumstance…

I asked her. Duh.

She said she did enter lots of giveaways via Goodreads, but that she also used a site called NetGalley. And I’m here to tell you that less than a week later, I have at least six ARCs from NetGalley and one hard copy on its way in the mail via Blogging for Books.

Here’s what to do:

1. // First, it’s best if you have an electronic reader of some type. I say that hesitantly, as I myself much prefer the feel, smell, and hoarderism that accompany actual physical texts. However, an eReader will help you download Kindle/PDF files of advanced books, which kindle-photowill help you consume them quicker and easier. If you have a Kindle app on your phone and you don’t mind reading tiny print and swiping pages 10,857 times per book, rock on! I myself own a Kindle Fire, and it works fantastically. (I believe many of these can be downloaded as PDF files as well, if you’re into reading on your computer or tablet, too.)

2. // Check out sites like BookBub for daily deals if you want newer, already published books. Each day there are several books listed for $1.99-$3.99, and some are even free. These are all electronic copies, though.

3. // Sign up for a NetGalley account. You will need to include your name and a brief bio so that publishers can determine your help to them with ARCs. I am a teacher of both secondary and post secondary students, host a monthly book swap meeting, and have this blog where I occasionally rant about books, so my bio is book heavy. However, if you are a reviewer of any level, talk it up! If you’re part of a book club, put that down! If you regularly review books via Goodreads, put that down, too!

  • If you go this route, make sure that you follow the steps on NetGalley’s site for syncing your eReader with your NetGalley account. It isn’t difficult and only takes about 5-10 minutes, but you’ll need to add your NetGalley email to your Kindle account and vice versa.
  • Also, when you get an account, review which 2017 books you like here, then request as many of them as you can! I found at least four! 🙂

4. // Sign up for an account at Blogging for Books. Again, you’ll need to include your name and brief information about yourself. This time, however, you will also need your address so they can mail you hard copies of ARCs if you request them. (Often you’ll have a choice of hard copy or electronic format, but not always.) If you’re not comfy with having your address on the account, this might not be the path for you. Unlike NetGalley, BFB will give you one ARC and wait for your review before you can request more. This is a pretty good strategy, seeing as how I have seven or eight now on my shelf at NetGalley and I now need to devise a plan of action not unlike a war strategist getting reading to Battle All The Books.

little-free5. // Not to insult your literary intelligence, but I am going to assume you’re already super savvy when it comes to digging through your local Little Free Libraries, but I do want to add that here as an option for you frugal lit lovers. I have found many great steals in little libraries, and I highly encourage you to stop and swap out some of your reads for theirs.*

Overall, know that you have options. New books are expensive, yes, but reading itself as a hobby needn’t be. Use your libraries, your internet access, wifi accessibility, and blogging machismo to read to your little heart’s content…

I know I intend to! 🙂

*Know of more ways to get free books? Please comment below with your strategies and ideas.

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