Ten Cheap Or Free Ways To Get Reading This Summer

Ten Cheap or Free Ways to get Reading This Summer

When I was a young ‘un, I’d spend most of my spare time at the library. I’d spend hours looking at all the books before selecting a few to take home with me, get them stamped and away I’d go with my free books. My Mum would take us each week, it was a nice walk out, didn’t cost her a penny and my Brother and I were entertained and our minds stimulated long after we’d left the library.

If you have a local library, it’s still a great way to read for free but if you’re like us, and your little local library is now boarded up, you need other options. I love to read but I don’t have a very big book budget, so here are my top ten tips for getting books for free or for very little money.

Charity Shops

Most charity shops have second hand books for sale. Our local Hospice has a shop dedicated to books alone and I often have a browse and end up buying quite a few titles. You can expect to pay £1 for an old/worn Paperback, £2 for a almost new/great condition Paperback and around £3-£5 for a Hardback. They often work out a lot cheaper than it would cost for a brand new copy, most of the books have been read just once before they’re donated and if you’re lucky you can find some (almost) new releases and hidden gems.

I picked up a copy of Paige Toon’s The Longest Holiday about a month after it was released for £1.25 and a Hardback edition of J K Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy in perfect condition for £3 and you get to help a charity at the same time!

Car Boot Sales/Local Selling Sites

I’ve picked up Paperbacks from as little as 10p from a car boot sale. Granted, it wasn’t a great copy but all the words were there and that’s all that matters. Also look on Facebook for local Buy/Sell pages and in your regional newspapers as you may find people selling job lots of books for £5/£10. As long as you’re likely to read most of the books in the bundle, you can save quite a lot of money.

Buy Second Hand Books Online

Both Ebay and Amazon have thousands of used books available to buy. You can pick up a book from as little as 1p, but remember to check out the postage costs first to see if you’ll actually save any money buying a second hand copy compared to popping to your local shop for a brand new one.

Kindle Bargains

If you have a Kindle, you can often find cheap books on Amazon. I picked up my Kindle second hand for £30 including the leather case and these days you can buy a new one for as little as £59 . If you read a lot, it could end up saving you money in the long run. Alternatively, the Kindle reading app is available for free on most devices (PCs, laptops, tablets, phones etc).

Amazon run a daily Kindle deal with anything from 3 to 24 books per day for as little as 99p. Each deal lasts 24 hours, so you have to be quick to buy them at the reduced price. You can sign up to a daily email (mine arrives before 8am each morning) which tells you which books are cheap that day. They also have monthly Kindle book deals, which run from the first Tuesday of one month until the first Monday of the next.

Even without the daily deal, there are literally thousands of Kindle books on Amazon that are either free or less than £1 to buy. The prices are often temporary, especially for bestselling books/Authors but I browse regularly and I’ve stocked my Kindle up with loads of bestsellers at very low prices as well as discovering lots of new Authors. Each Friday I list “Kindle Bargains” (Kindle books priced 99p or less) on my Facebook page if you’d like to join in.

Kindle Owners’ Lending Library

If you’re an Amazon Prime customer (you can sign up for a 1 month free trial), you can access the Kindle Lending Library. You can lend up to one book a month at no extra charge, there are over 350,000 books to choose from and there’s no due date so you can take as long as you like to read it.


Netgalley is like an online library where Publishers offer books (generally ebooks) for people to review. There is no better advertisement for a book than a good review and by giving away a few free copies, the publishers hope that many sales will follow. You have to post your reviews online, so a blog will help you along (you can start a free blog on WordPress or Blogger) but some publishers may accept requests from those who just post their reviews on Goodreads or Amazon.

Once you’ve provided a particular publisher with several well written reviews, you may find yourself auto approved, which means you no longer need to request their books and you can just download them instantly to your reading device.

Swap Shop

Do you find yourself discussing a book you’ve read with your friends or colleagues? Chances are you own books that they’d like to read and vice versa so you could ask about swapping some of your books for some of theirs. That way, you both get new books to read without having to spend any extra money. This is also a great idea if you have kids and know someone else who has children of a similar age.


Publishers, authors and book related companies often host giveaways to promote new releases, events etc. This means there’s normally a few shiny new books to be given away as prizes. Granted, you’re not guaranteed to win a copy but you’ve got to be in it to win it! Many of the books on my many bookshelves are prizes I’ve won over the years.

Some great sites to keep an eye on are Novelicious, Mumsnet Book Club and The Book People.

Book blogs also host regular giveaways and the entry numbers are often quite low, which means you’ve a better chance of winning.


Goodreads is an online reading community where you can list, review, share and discover books. They also offer hundreds of free books every week via the authors and publishers who have signed up. Once you’ve signed up yourself, the giveaways are easy to enter and then you just have to keep an eye on your inbox to see if you’ve won a brand new book. They ask that you create a special shelf for any “first reads” you receive and review them, but it’s not compulsory.


Waterstones offer review copies of both old and new releases via their Read and Review scheme. You need a Waterstones card to apply (you can sign up for free) and there are limited copies of each title available, so reviewers are chosen at random (as far as I know). They ask that you read the book and publish your review on their site within one month.

 Written by Melanie Clarke – A Bit Of Mel Time | Twitter


One Comment

  1. Don’t forget the library!! I get most my books there. Though if you find a good well stocked charity shop, you will find newer titles. Maybe not straight away but in a month or so they can start cropping up

Leave a Reply