I love to write. But even before I loved to write, I loved to read. Over the years, my love for both reading other writers’ words and writing my own has mostly worked out in my favor. What hasn’t proved quite so advantageous is the cost. Buying books—especially new bestsellers—is PRICEY. While I have a lot of less desirable habits I wouldn’t mind breaking, my “book habit” isn’t one of them. These days, I read all the bestsellers I want but rarely plunk down any cash to do so. Amongst my best pals are digital lending libraries, discount clubs and “book swapping” (this is when someone else has just finished the bestseller you want to read and you bat your eyelashes at them and smile like a crazy person until they hand that hardback right on over). I cash in on these four tips on a weekly basis to access the books I need. I hope they will help you get your regular “literary fix” too!

1. Trade away

The first rule of wordies worldwide is this: whatever book you want to read next, chances are someone else has just finished it. In true “six degrees of separation” style, the Internet is your constant ally here. Here are some great sites where you can swap that book you just finished (whether digital or physical) for the book you want to start and vice versa.

  • Title Trader: Not only can you swap hardback or paperback books, but the site also welcomes traders of music CDs, movies (DVDs and VHS tapes—remember those?) and more.
  • PaperBack Swap: This awesome online community is free to join, and you can swap so much more than just paperback books. Audio books, textbooks, hardcopy books, CDs, DVDs and more are also part of the exchange.

2. Subscribe to online reading clubs

Another tool I’ve found super helpful are online reading clubs. Often clubs will give you a free book (or two) just for signing up, and then you can download books to the ereader device of your choice in seconds. Here are some great ones:

  • Audible: Not the cheapest of the lot, but definitely a boon for those whose primary reading time is while they are on the go (think iPod, not iPad). The first 30 days are free then it costs $14.95/month to join, allowing you one download per month.
  • Project Gutenberg: Project Gutenberg’s insanely useful online site has 42,000 classic ebooks—all totally free! This nonprofit project is free for users, but donations are gratefully accepted.
  • Daily Lit: Daily Lit is formatted for folks who only have bits and pieces of reading time daily and enjoy great fiction. You can sign up to get just small portions of whatever fiction book you’re reading sent to you via email each day. And if you do have more time on a given day, you can click a link in the email to get the next installment sent early. Some books (those whose copyrights are now public domain) are free to read, and others come with a small fee.

3. Shop with discounts in mind

When it comes to getting discounts on bestsellers, there is a time to shop and a time to wait (i.e., impulse purchasing is not your friend here). For instance, if you absolutely, positively, simply MUST have that new hardback for your very own, buy it as soon as it hits bestseller status—often that’s when the publisher re-releases the title with a new cover notice advertising that it’s now a bestseller. There’s usually a temporary discount in price to drive further increases in sales. Shopping used bookstores—online and offline—is also a fab way to find gently-used books that are still good as new inside. Here are some sites to get you started.

  • Hamilton Book: Hamilton Book offers discounts of up to 80% on books, CDs and DVDs. You do have to pay shipping, a flat fee of $3.50 for the first item plus $.40 for each additional item in your order.
  • Amazon: Of course, no discussion of discount book sales is complete without mentioning Amazon, that behemoth of online browsing and buying. You can also peruse a worldwide list of secondhand book vendors for additional deep discounts.
  • Book Bub: Book Bub gives you access to mainstream and bestselling books that have been discounted up to 90% or are free to read. The site offers ebooks only, and most deals are only available for a limited time. You can sign up to get email notices when new deals are available. Check out this great Krazy Coupon Lady post about Book Bub!

This is a guest post by Shannon from Houston, TX