Read for Free

By Lynn Truong on 18 December 2006 (Updated 31 July 2007) 13 comments

libraryFor avid readers (as well as moderate readers), the money spent on books can put a dent in your bank account. And to what end? To make your bookshelf look impressive? There are very few books you actually need on your shelf for easy access. Even with the books you really loved, there’s always something else to read before going back to it again. Nobody can argue the value of borrowing a book. Why then, are people still reluctant to visit the local library?

For years I never considered visiting the library because the idea brought back memories of elementary school days when I was still looking up books on little index cards. The library never had any books I wanted and the books they did have were sadly outdated. And frankly, I was a new book snob. Used books just looked dirty. Ew.

So I bought any book that slightly interested me. The result is a bookshelf of mostly unread books rather than a collection of great books to be proud of. My boyfriend chastised me for purchasing so many books. He went often to the library and started borrowing books for me. I quickly got over the “ew” and realized the “wow” of the modern library system.

There are three Los Angeles County public libraries within a few miles from me. I can look up the availability of any book online. If the book isn’t available in a library near me, I can request it, and have it sent to the library of my choice. When they get it, they send me a letter and I go pick it up. All the libraries that are a part of the LACPL network takes a single library card and you can return your books to any library no matter where you borrowed it from. It has never taken more than two weeks for a requested book to arrive. Renewing is easy and can be done online as well.

The library has been an invaluable resource these past few years. Not only have I been able to read all the books I want without spending a dime (ok, there were a few late fees), but I’ve also read a lot of books I wouldn’t have picked up and purchased at a store. With no money involved, I’ve been able to grab and test all sorts of books I’ll never feel bad about not finishing.

So the next time you hear of a book you want to read, drive to your local library instead of the closest Barnes and Noble. It's not only a great way to save money, but it supports your community as well.

2.333335
Average: 2.3 (3 votes)
Your rating: None
ShareThis

comments

13 discussions

Add New Comment

CAPTCHA
This test helps prevent automated spam submissions.
Guest's picture
Wanda

I am an unashamed bookworm and love the library so, so much. If you live in a college town, you can frequently borrow books from the college libraries as well.

Guest's picture
Gigglew/atwist

Yeah! Personally, I don't think getting an E-book is good! It can hurt your eyes if you look at a computer screen too long!

Guest's picture
Alicia

Definitely agreed. I tend to avoid buying books unless they are on deep discount, for instance Barnes and Noble always seems to have plenty of books that interest me for less than 3 dollars a piece, and they are NEW and undamaged hardcovers and softcovers. Last time I went I got about 750 dollars worth of books for 35 dollars, a total steal, and I have not been disappointed with one of them. The library in my town burned down a few years ago, so the collection is still building, but the county network makes things so easy and cheap.

Guest's picture

Here are a few more ideas for cheap reading. I live in a smallish town in California, and our library budget is truly sad, so we've pretty much read everything of interest in our local library. I'm also really good at racking up library fines, unfortunately.

Luckily, we have a lot of library book sales in our area, where paperbacks usually range between 25cents - 50 cents, and hardbacks a dollar and up. You can check here for calendars of sales:

http://www.booksalefinder.com/
http://www.booksalescout.com/

Also, if there's a genre of books you enjoy, check out ebay and search for "mystery book lot" for instance, which will bring back items with multiple books. I've scored boxes of books for under $15.

If you look for unusual books on ebay and want to price check, go to http://www.bookfinder.com to compare prices for out of print books.

If you choose the same seller on half.com, the shipping is much less expensive.

And I belong to http://www.bookmooch.com, where you swap books for points, so you don't need a 1:1 match with whoever your trading with. Our family has done over 100 trades. You pay shipping, but that's all, and media mail is (relatively)inexpensive.

Since I work in SF, so our family also joined a private library (the Mechanic's Institute) near where I work. They have 4 floors of books (vs. a single floor for our local library), comfy leather chairs, and a very Maltese-Falcoln-ish aura. They're open on Sat and Sun, since I have a high school age son, and we all know how the last minute-report hits, the extended hours are great.

Guest's picture
Ro

Surf the library web site and you can put your books on reserve online and then just go pick them up. My library has consumer report articles online. They have Rosetta Stone online. It's great. Browse at Borders or Barnes/Noble, make your list and then go online to find your stuff. If your library doesn't have it, you can request it from a regional library. Or my library will buy it and put it on reserve for me!!

Guest's picture
levyzoo

As my 3 kids were being homeschooled, our reading consisted of Little House on the Prairie, the Boxcar Children, & the Bob Books!
With a learning disabled child who would sit for hours if I was reading to him, I wasn't getting much else done. We discovered the Library of Congress Books on Tape program, which is free throughout the US, thanks to our tax dollars ;) With medical proof of deafness or other disability, a special long playing tape machine is shipped to the child at no charge. We then emailed our choice of books to the local library & the tapes would arrive in the mail within a couple of days. After we had listened to the tape, we simply put it in our mailbox with it's free postage label! You can also go online to choose books, as the national listing is very extensive. We have listened to the Narnia series, the Boxcar Children, Hardy Boys, Left Behind, Anne of Green Gables, Lilian Jackson Braun, & tons more.
Now the kids are done with homeschool, but I still can't seem to find time to read! Since I do find plenty of time to be in the car, however, regular library books on tape made sense. I experiment with different authors, and listen to all their books when I discover a good one. When you hear the same storyteller reading each adventure or mystery of a series, the characters take on a life of their own. I have my own private social circle now... Quill, Koko, YumYum, Mrs Pollifax, Goldy Schultz, Hamish McBeth, & Annie Darling, to name a few.
A tip: listening to the tapes or cds at night isn't a great idea... I've had to rewind many an ending because I fell asleep the night before!

Guest's picture
Cindy M

You all are so right, the libraries are just invaluable. I purchase very few books without first having read them to pieces first. Books I do end up buying are generally self-help (haircutting or cookbooks, for instance), and I bought a great haircutting book very cheap on amazon after studying the daylights out of a library copy. Also, I never pay to rent a movie anymore, let alone buy one, when it can be reserved at the library. Amazon, by the way, is just great for finding out if something is worth buying in the first place; check out others' reviews first. Always pays to do a little homework first before you spend your hard-earned money.

Guest's picture
Cindy M

PS - Don't forget the garage sales and thrift stores for books. I've come across recent best sellers and reference books for as little as a dime apiece in these places.

Guest's picture
Terrie

I love visiting my local library, but instead of driving, have you considered taking the bus? With the cost of gasoline these days, you aren't really saving much money by driving to the library instead of buying a book.

Guest's picture
jdp

Walk! We do. Carefully chosen "home" to be within walking distance of 90% of everything we use most.

Guest's picture
FrugalZen

I'm an insatiable reader and have an eclectic mix of interests.

I rarely buy anything new anymore and have refined my Internet searching to get the best price in the following manner.

First is a click to Amazon to see what it ACTUALLY sells for retail and get a feel for the used price (if available there).

Second we're off to Ebay to see if its available there and the range of prices.

Third I go to the beforementioned www.bookfinder.com which searches a very large number of antiquarian websites that sell used books and look for it using seperate searches by Author, Title, and Keywords (REALLY IMPORTANT as even a single letter out of place or missing will cause bookfinder to have a seperate listing for the book in question.)

Lastly I check www.hamiltonbooks.com the worlds largest purveyor or remaindered books in the world.

Hamilton has two ways or ordering...Until recently (just a few years) he did not have a website or take Credit Cards...you paid by Check or Money Order.

Now the website....which is updated daily and has EVERYTHING he has for sale...allows you to pay by Credit Card but to keep expenses down here is the Catch!!

Pay by Credit Card and shipping is $3.95 for the First book and $1.00 for each additional one ordered.

Print the Order out...Send Check or Money Order (they don't hold them either..your order is sent right out!!!)...and shipping is a FLAT $3.50..no matter how many books you order.

I usually take my time going through the monthly newsletter (VERY Large) and start with the Clearence, Bargain, Limited Quantities section where books are under $5.00..even for the VERY high dollar University Press Books.

A lot of months I will spend $50.00 and get 12 to 15 usually new books that might still be in the major book chains that I would have to spend $400-$500 to buy from them....and all they have is a little black line on the bottom of the book showing it was Remaindered.

I get lots of unusually books from them...a lot of Foriegn books are remaindered here and I've read some very interesting novels by Indian authors set in India or other countries..all in English.

I also get the Pleasure of taking them to the Private School attended by my Neice and donating them to the Library after I've read them.

~ Roland

Guest's picture
asrai

Bookcloseouts has really cheap books.