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.
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.
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!
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?
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