Enjoying books on a budget

QUEEN OF FREE: CHERIE LOWE

By Cherie Lowe

For as long as I can remember, I have had a love for books. On my desk sit five books right now. One I finished yesterday, three in a series of five that I’m getting ready to tackle, and a journal where I collect quotes and thoughts from — you guessed it, books I’ve read.

Reading is a passion we’ve managed to pass along to our kids, too. Our oldest daughter spent most of her middle school years zeroed in on a goal of breaking the record for points scored from a book program named AR. You read that correctly. Our kids read competitively. It’s not a contact sport, but it is serious business.

I love collecting beautiful books. Nothing brings me greater joy than passing along a book to someone I love that will resound with their soul. I’m even in the middle of writing a second book right now. Please send chocolates and prayers.

Buying books can be an expensive hobby, though. What’s a book nerd who’s also frugal to do? Luckily, during the years, I’ve developed strategies to help me maintain and curate a large personal library without going broke. Maybe a few of these ideas will help my fellow book geeks to keep their noses buried in a great read minus the high sticker price.

Library love

Probably the most obvious way to read as many books as possible while spending the least amount of money possible is by hitting your local library. I’ve been known to browse the shelves of a large bookstore with my phone in hand. With each new title I find, I search the library’s online card catalog and reserve the books I want to read.

If you’re not searching the shelves from home or on the go, you’re really missing out. Become well-acquainted with your physical library and librarians. But also familiarize yourself with its online presence to get the most from your experience.

The library’s traditional lending system isn’t the only way to experience great works of literature and informative non-fiction, though. I’m a weekly (sometimes daily) user of the library’s OverDrive App which allows you to check out both eBooks and audiobooks with your smartphone or digital device.

Services such as Audible cost a pretty penny but through partnerships with your local library, apps such as OverDrive, Hoopla, and Libby are free to both download and use.

Kindle reads for days

Even if you don’t own a Kindle eReader, you can take advantage of the vast number of free reads on Amazon’s platform. Amazon Prime members have access to a program named Prime Reading featuring more than 1,000 free books, magazines, audiobooks and more.

Anyone can access a 30-day free trial of Kindle Unlimited which grants access to an even broader library. But even if you’re not a member of any program, you can download a free Kindle app to your smartphone, or computer.

Selling to buy

I have a simple litmus test for every book I own. I hold the volume in my hands and turn it over once or twice. And then I ask myself two simple questions. 1.) Will I read this book again? 2.) Would I want to loan this book to someone I know? If I answer no to both questions, I know exactly what’s going to happen next. I’m going to attempt to sell that book, so someday I can buy more books.

I’ve been successful at selling books in two different retail spaces. To get the best value from the book, I’ve had the greatest success using the online retailer Half.com. The website is a subsidiary of eBay, but functions slightly differently. There are no upfront costs to list books and the amount of money the company gains from your sale is slim.

Whenever I receive boxes and padded envelopes in the mail, I put them back to use for shipping books I sell. Simply remove the mailing address labels and/or create a new label of your own to cover any previous markings. If I can save the planet a little excess waste while saving myself some money at the same time, why not?

Half Price Books also allows you to sell your unwanted reads, DVDs, games and more. If you’re looking to be able to get rid of your items immediately and obtain cash quickly, it might be a better option for you.

Book review programs

You might be able to actually score brand-new books for absolutely FREE (my favorite!). A number of publishers offer free print and eBooks in exchange for reviews. Head to your favorite publisher’s website and see if they have such a program.

Some programs may require a review on Amazon or Goodreads, while others may require a blog post in exchange for a free book. Don’t know where to begin? Check out programs such as Tyndale Blog Network, Booksneeze, Blogging for Books and NetGalley online.

Did you know the average millionaire reads at least one non-fiction work per month? Reading opens your mind and heart up to new possibilities while remaining one of the most affordable hobbies you could have.

You can read great books without spending a lot of cash if you’re smart about the tools and strategies you engage.

Greenwood resident Cherie Lowe and her husband paid off $127,000 in debt in four years and now live debt-free every day with their two kids. She is the author of “Slaying the Debt Dragon: How One Family Conquered Their Money Monster and Found an Inspired Happily Ever After.” Send questions, column ideas and comments to newstips@dailyjournal.net