DISCUSSION: Where to Get Free Books, Cheap Books, and Review Books

As I sit here writing this, I’m thinking about the piles and PILES of books I have on my shelves just waiting to be read. Honestly, when I started my blog years ago, my intentions were to read what I had, write my review, and then hopefully remember the book. My memory sucked when it came to reading books that writing the review afterwards helped me go back, see my thoughts, and have that “oh, right!” moment.

But then one day I realized that I could get FREE books! The monster in me realized how wonderful this is and so I merrily went on my way getting them from various places. This led to me losing my mind about mid-April, taking a major reading break in May, and eventually sitting back to reevaluate my original goals for the blog.

When you start a blog, please be sure to NEVER start it with the sole intention of getting free books. This might make you crazy. It turns booklovers into greedy monsters who then may spontaneously combust when they realize they’ve over-loaded their plate and they just can’t get to everything in time.

Before you even THINK about trying out any of these ways to get free books, make sure you know what you’re doing and that you know how much you can actually read in a week. Trust me, you DON’T want to get bogged down with so many books that reading turns into a job.

THE LIBRARY
Well, this is just obvious. The library is an AMAZING place to get free books. Whenever I check out other bloggers’ WoW posts or posts about up and coming books that are supposed to be the next best thing, the first thing I would do is go online to the library’s website and see if they were getting the book in stock. If they were, I’d put a hold on it. But be careful! If your luck is like mine, all of your books will come in at once and you won’t know how to read them all by the time they have to go back. This is okay. Take a deep breath. The library will still be there in a month or two, so you can always put it back on hold and read it at another time! If you’re lucky, your library also does interlibrary loans and can get a book you’re dying to read from ANOTHER library if they don’t stock it. AND some libraries also have ongoing library sales with books as low as $0.25!

LOCAL BOOK BLOGGERS
I am so fortunate that I have a whole group of bloggers in my city. Some of us request ARCs once in a while (I’ll get to that in a minute) and when we have a meet up, we’ll trade with one another. This is a great thing because we all have different tastes and request different books. Sometimes one blogger will read an ARC and not like it, but another blogger will love it! For example, if I read a book and dislike it, I’ll go onto Goodreads and look at some of my blogging friends’ wishlists to see if that book is on it. If it is, then it’s going to a good home!

YOUR EBOOK RETAILER OR AN ONLINE EBOOK STORE
There are so many freebie ebooks online it’s RIDICULOUS. Kindle has some AMAZING deals, as well as a TON of freebies, as does Kobo and Smashwords. These are the three retailers that I use all the time, but I’m sure there are more places out there. At some points, I have enough freebies on my eReader that I could read for months and not run out of anything. If freebies aren’t your thing, most ebook providers have great deals on ebooks, sometimes selling the latest and greatest books for only a few dollars.

GIVEAWAYS
There are a TON of giveaways on book blogs at any time of the year, with bloggers giving away ARCs, finished copies, and swag. There are giveaway hops, blog redesign giveaways, blog birthday giveaways, and so much more! About a year ago, I was VERY MUCH into the giveaways and actually won quite a few books. It’s a great way to get some free books! Aside from blogs, Goodreads also has some great giveaways you can enter. Just be sure to read the guidelines of the giveaways you enter as some are not international.

BOOKSNEEZE, BETHANY HOUSE, OR THE TYNDALE BLOG NETWORK (FOR REVIEW BOOKS)
Booksneeze, Bethany House Publishers, and the Tyndale Blog Network are all places I first got my review books from. They are all Christian fiction and have books of all kinds from non-fiction to self-help, to YA fiction to adult fiction, to inspirational. If you like the Christian fiction genre, they’re all great companies to work with. Tyndale Blog Network hosts blog tours from time to time, which is something to watch for before you request a book – sometimes you are also signing up for a blog tour, which means you will be committed to post by a certain day.

BLOG TOURS (FOR REVIEW BOOKS)
Blog tours are a great way to get involved with hyping up a book and with providing promotional posts, guests posts from the author, and reviews – maybe even some giveaways!  Like any review book, these are books that you definitely have to read and I suggest you only sign up for tours that you are truly interested in. Also be warned that you will pick dates to post and that the tour host is counting on you posting on the day you are chosen for. If you have issues with anything, be courteous and let the tour host know as soon as you can! Blog tours are fun and a great way to hype up your favourite author!

Popular book blog tour hosts:
Bookish Brunette Book Tours
SupaGirl Tours

NETGALLEY (FOR REVIEW BOOKS)
Once you’ve become somewhat established as a blogger, you can sign up to receive ARCs through NetGalley. If you have an eReader, this is a great thing. In fact, this was one of the main reasons for me buying me eReader back in February. All publishers who list books on NetGalley have different requirements for bloggers requesting books, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with these requirements before requesting anything. And be warned! Don’t go nuts requesting the books on NetGalley. Think about how much you are able to read and how badly you want to read a certain book. If you don’t get to reading a book before it expires, that can make your stats look bad to the publishers.

DIRECT FROM THE PUBLISHER (FOR REVIEW BOOKS)
This isn’t something that I do a lot of, but I know a few book bloggers who request directly from the publisher all the time. I’m not going to post a tutorial on it because there are a lot out there, but I do recommend that you have been blogging for at least 6 months and have some decent stats to include in your email. As with any email, be professional and don’t fire off requests all the time. Also, be sure you really, really, really want to read the book – don’t just request anything and everything.

There are so many places to get free books that I’m sure I’ve missed one or two places. Again, though, just because there are all of these great places to get free books, that doesn’t mean you should only ever get freebies. Review books are still review books, even if you didn’t have to pay for them. You should still understand that you are committing yourself to review them when you request them. It’s always a good idea to remain selective and (something I can’t say enough) only take on review books that you really want to read. It’s way too easy to let the review books pile up and overwhelm yourself.

But, while there are lots of places to obtain review books, there are also lots of places to get free books that you don’t HAVE to review –not unless you want to. These books are great and they make reading fun. Getting freebies from Kindle or Smashwords, for example, is a great way to discover up and coming indie authors – as are blog tours.

In the end, always be aware of how much you can feasibly take on as a blogger and proceed with caution. And ALWAYS remember that you came into blogging for the love of books, not to get free books!

Is there anything I missed? What other advice can you provide for people who want to get free or cheap reading material?

© 2012, Reading In Winter. All rights reserved.

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21 thoughts on “DISCUSSION: Where to Get Free Books, Cheap Books, and Review Books

  1. Fore very reasonably priced books – a dollar store, thrift store & book stores have sales all the time. They won’t be the latest, but you will find many popular books this way – a review of which can still inspire conversation/ comments on blogs.

  2. Great post Kristilyn. And I totally agree about not taking on too many books! I did that when I first found netgalley! I gave up on some and am trying to work my way through the rest. There’s just so many awesome books out there!

    • There are WAY too many good books on NetGalley … I still have to remind myself that I don’t NEED to read all the books they have to offer. I find I do way better when I can actually SEE the book in front of me.

  3. I HOPE bloggers aren’t still starting blogs just for free books. Yeah, it’s great. But I’ve got to imagine the authors would like somebody to buy their books!! Especially indies – their books are SOOOO cheap, I buy them even if I’m offered them for review. I couldn’t always do that but I do it now. I’ve offset it with getting books from the library.

    With the advent of e-books available at the library, there is just so much more available and you don’t even need to leave your house. One sneaky thing I do: My small library has a very limited amount of ebooks. So I asked my folks, who live in Cleveland, OH, if I could use their library card online to get ebooks. If I can’t find a book at my library, I go to their library and look. Granted, not everyone can do that, but it’s an idea.

    Don’t even get me started on all those first rate, best sellers that are now between $1-$5 on Kindle!!! What a great way to start an older series!!

    Great post – thanks for all the other ideas!!! I’m going to check out Smashwords, too. I always forget about them.

    • You’re sneaky! I know libraries only get so many licenses for their ebooks, so that’s why you don’t have access to ALL THE EBOOKS. And Kindle does have some great deals — it’s a great way to start a series, especially when you don’t NEED the book on your shelf.

      I hope there aren’t bloggers only starting for free books, either! I mean, there’s the LIBRARY. How much freer can you get?

  4. When I first started my blog, and I got my first few review copies from NetGalley, I was SO EXCITED and I did not understand people who wrote posts complaining about too many review copies. Then I reached the point where I had too many review copies. Now I understand! So now I pretty much don’t request books (except occasionally from NetGalley), and just take the ones that authors contact me about. And I’m learning to say no if I’m not that interested. It really sucks when my favourite thing to do becomes a chore! When I finish a book, I think to pick what I WANT to read next, not look at a list and figure out what I NEED to read next!

    • You’re so right, Lianne — it does become a chore! I definitely try to only pick books I really, really want to read. That way I’m still crazy excited about reading them.

  5. This might make you crazy. It turns booklovers into greedy monsters who then may spontaneously combust when they realize they’ve over-loaded their plate and they just can’t get to everything in time.” That was the best line ever, LOL. I actually didn’t know you could request ARCs or anything, I only knew about giveaways. That was actually how I found out book blogging actually existed! This was a great post, Kristilyn! Thanks for all the suggestions 🙂

    • You can definitely request ARCs! I think they like to see good numbers on your blog, but it’s always worth a try. Of course, like I said, it makes it way too easy to accumulate a LOT of books — when you have to review them all, they might seem less appealing!

  6. Very informative post! It’s hard not to go overboard with free books, but think that’s something every blogger learns for themselves. It’s hard to say no, but I’m learning! 🙂

  7. Pingback: Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge (17) | Reading In Winter

  8. Oh, great post and great advice! Very sensible. This post would have been sooo helpful to have if I were a newbie blogger. Actually, I learned a few things just now even as a 2 year old blogger! Lately, my favourite way to get cheap books is from used book stores and Goodwill.

  9. I certainly made the rookie mistake of accepting too many review requests! While I’ve closed down (for now) and been very selective about recent review requests, I kind of want to kick myself in the behind for getting so overwhelmed in the first place. Review books are great, but they also (to me) represent a responsbility to the author and to the publisher.

My home is where my books are. - Ellen Thompson

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