In step 1 you solicited recommendations and picked out a book.  Now it’s time to get your hands on it (ideally for free).

 

First, answer the following question: 

 

Do you have a library card?  

 

I Have a Library Card

Congrats! You just saved yourself a bunch of money on books.  I know that it might be tempting to buy a book every time you want to read something, but let's be honest, you're probably not going to read that many books more than once.  And you don't have to worry about forgetting what you read just because you have to return each book to the library.  In Step 3 I will give you a bunch of techniques and resources to make sure you can always go back and see the important parts of the books you read.

 

With your library card in hand, your local library is going to be your go-to place to get books during this THING.  That doesn't necessarily mean you have to make the trip to the library to enjoy the benefits of your library card.  If you’re interested in saving time and checking out books without leaving your home, here are some of the best ways you can download library ebooks and audiobooks for free with your library card (sorted in order of recommendation).

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Libby Libby allows you to use your library card to check out books on their app, which is well-designed and satisfying to use. They also offer a desktop version. I read every single one of my books on Libby last year.

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Hoopla, - Hoopla promises to give you your local library at your fingertips.  I have not tried this app because I'm very happy with Libby, but it seems to offer a similar service.

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Cloud Library

Search the app store for “[Your City] Public Library” to see if your local library has an app for checking out ebooks with your library card.

I Don’t Have a Library Card

If you don’t have a library card, it’s worth looking into.  It’s either FREE or very cheap to get one!  Here's my librarian friend Michelle again, explaining why library cards are a great deal.

 

In library advocacy, we like to share the money that is saved on books and resources with a library card.  If you think about the cost of a book, roughly $20, and you read 5 books a year, that's $100 saved. If you factor in magazine, newspaper, and database subscriptions, you're saving thousands of dollars a year.​

Even if you don’t think there’s any chance you will visit your local library in person, you can use your library card exclusively to check-out ebooks.  I read 30 books in 6 months without visiting my local library.  That had a lot to do with the fact that I was living in South Korea at that time, but if I could use my library card 6,500 miles from my local branch, you can too!  

 

How to get a library card:

Every city’s process is different, so you have to visit your local library’s website to learn about how to sign up for a library card.  Generally, you have to apply in person and bring a photo ID and something to verify your current address (such as a drivers license or a piece of mail).

Once you get your hands on a library card, read through the "I have a library card" section above for 

 

I Can’t Get a Library Card or I’m Not Interested in Getting a Library Card:

If you can’t get a library card or don’t want one, you’re most likely going to have to pay money to read pretty much anything other than public domain books (think classics, nothing written after you were born). Don’t let that discourage you, though.  

These are some of the best ways to find a great selection and deals on ebooks, print books, and audiobooks and save money (sorted in order of recommendation):

  • Borrow books from friends and family.  

    • Seriously.  If you used my #1 suggestion for book recommendations (talk to a close friend or family member who is a reader), there’s a chance they own the book they recommended and are willing to loan it to you for free. Of course, borrowing a book won’t always be an option.

 

  • Scribd - Unlimited ebooks for $9 a month.

  • Amazon First Reads - If you have an Amazon Prime subscription, you are entitled to one free ebook per month from a selection of 9 books hand-picked by Amazon's editors.  These books are available to Amazon Prime members before their official release date.  Apparently, some months they even give you two free ebooks.

  • Powell’s Books - A legendary independent bookstore in Portland with fast shipping. 

  • BookBub - Personalized book recommendations and deals on ebooks (as low as $1).

Once you have your hands on your book, you can move onto Step 3.