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Reading can do so much for us: books help us expand our knowledge, explore our imaginations, and pursue our passions – just to name a few. Unfortunately, cost can rack up quickly, especially for book enthusiasts. Whether you’re an avid reader looking to devour more great reads without doing the same to your wallet, or a more casual reader looking to build their library without breaking the bank, here are some great money-saving tips.

  1. Shop Secondhand
    There are two great things you can find in any secondhand bookstore: a good deal and a unique experience. There’s a distinct and different personality to each secondhand bookstore that you won’t get at a chain store. Here you will find the little known books next to the best sellers, both older and newer editions of your favorites lining the shelves, and other little unexpected gems from authors you’ve never heard of. You’ll walk out having had a nice little adventure, and your wallet will love you for it.

  2. Check Out the Library
    f you’re looking for great reads but aren’t concerned about adding the next book to your sacred book stash, check out your local library. Not only will you find – for free – just about any genre you can think of, libraries also host many free programs that can enrich your reading, such as Q&A sessions with local writers, poetry readings, literary book clubs, and more. Also, if you’re looking for inspiration for your next book selection, the library can be a great place to start. Many hidden treasures can be found in the library stacks that won’t necessarily pop up in the search results on a book store retail site.
  3. Join a Book Club
    Libraries aren’t the only places to find book clubs. You’d be surprised how many book clubs you can find locally or online. Some great places to look for both virtual and local book clubs include Meetup, Good Reads, or My Book Club. Doing a simple Google search for “Book Clubs Near Me” can yield great starting points.

    Still not sure where to start or haven’t found the group for you? Consider starting your own! Grab a group of fellow book-loving friends and start your own club. Here are five steps to get you started:

    - Decide what type of group your book club should be. Open group or invitation only? A structured book club, or a more easy-going get together? Does your book club have more of a social purpose, or should it be more academic?

    - Decide what type of books you will read. Is your book club focused on one genre or author, or will it be more eclectic? Some fun twists on deciding your club’s theme include group members taking turns to select the next book, focusing on local authors, or a random selection from best seller lists.

    - Name your group. This one is important as it sets the tone for what your book club will be. Have fun with it and give it a personality to match your group’s interests.

    - Select when and how often to meet. Location is important; decide on a place that is good for your group size and is comfortable, quiet, and welcoming. When deciding how often to meet, keep in mind that some readers need more flexibility, so consider deciding this as a group when getting started. 

    - Find good resource sites to help you find books to read, build discussion group topics, and other resources. A great place for beginners is the American Library Association’s ilovelibraries; initiative where you can find everything you need to get started. Penguin Books has some great tips to get started as well as ready-made reading guides.

  4. Start a Book Swap
    If a book club or library isn’t your thing, but you are still intrigued by the idea of free books, consider starting a book swap. Reach out to your avid reader friends and arrange to meet up and swap recent reads. Turn it into an excuse for an informal get-together by taking turns hosting the swap at each other’s homes, a local coffee shop, or at the park. Dial it up a notch by having everyone wrap their selections and toss them into a pile for a truly random swapping experience.
  5. Check Out Little Free Libraries
    Little Free Library is a non-profit organization dedicated to building and promoting a love of reading. Little Free Libraries are basically weather-resistant boxes on posts that can be found in residential or community areas, much like mailboxes, in which you can take a book to read and are encouraged to leave one for someone else to take and enjoy. The website includes an interactive map where you can find little free libraries near you.
  6. Go Electronic
    Many die-hard literary lovers cannot part with the look, feel, and smell of a real book. Even the sound of the spine cracking as they open a book is an experience all in itself. But, if you can consider parting with this experience or reserving it for certain, special books, going electronic can save you a significant amount of money over time – especially if you read multiple books in a month. Many e-readers offer a paper-like reading experience such as Barnes and Noble’s Nook GlowLight Plus or Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite. Many come with built-in deals, such as free reads and book sharing options. Amazon offers an app you can download to your smart device to read ebooks without having to invest in an e-reader.

    Also, most libraries have an e-book service as well. If you have a library card or membership, you can sign up for their service and check out electronic books to be read on your e-reader or your ebook app.

  7. Build Books into Your Budget
    If you’re reading this, chances are that book buying is still going to be an investment for you even after incorporating free or inexpensive ways to acquire books. So, consider adding a category into your budget for books each month. This can help you become more selective and less impulsive with your book purchases, which means less guilt and fewer unread books piling up in your bookshelves. Not to mention, you’ll spend less time shopping and more time reading! Really, does it get better than that?

Join us on September 14 for Budgets & Bites at the Autauga library location to learn more about how to build a budget that works for you!