Readers' Favorite

April 30, 2017

Zilch! Ways to Read for Free

by Donna Huber

Here we are at the end of April and the end of the A to Z Challenge. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have. For our regular readers, we tried out a few new ways of presenting reviews and discussing books in general and for those who just discovered us this month, you will see the same kind of content throughout the year as we celebrate books, authors, writing, and the reading experience.

If you've read us frequently, your wish list of books has grown a bit, while your book budget probably has not. So what are you to do? While reading is probably one of most inexpensive means of entertainment, for the avid reader it can add up quickly. Just this month alone I've read 8 books (4 were audiobooks) and if they averaged $10 each, that's $80.

So what is an avid reader on a budget suppose to do? Find ways to read for zilch! And there are a number of ways to do so legally (no pirate sites for us!)

Amazon affiliate links are used in this post.

The Library

I was so excited the day I walked into the library, filled out an application and got my very own library card. Weekly trips to the library were the norm for my family growing up. Now you don't even have to show up at the library to just to renew the book you couldn't finish in 2 weeks or wonder if the book you want is available. I think every library has an online catalog and with an account you can renew and put holds on books. With my library card, I'm able to request books from any library in the state and have them sent to my local branch.

Don't have time to get by the library or maybe you prefer audio or ebooks? A lot of library systems now have digital libraries through Overdrive or other such service that allows cardholders to check out digital material. All the audiobooks I listened to this month were checked out of the digitial library.

Review Books

It used to be that you had to be a librarian, a bookstore owner, or a media professional in order to get free advance reader copies or books to review. But then the doors opened a little wider and if you had a book blog, publishers would come knocking (well emailing!) I started Girl Who Reads in part to get free books to read. Now you don't even need a blog, just write reviews at Amazon. I think just about anyone can get a Netgalley account these days as long as you agree to write a review.

Haven't heard of Netgalley? Publishers, big and small, offer digital review copies to professionals and general readers through this site. You can read a book 6 monts before it hits shelves. Talk about being the envy of your friends. Just because you request the egalley, it doesn't mean the publisher will approve you for a copy. You will need to build a proven track record of writing reviews to get the really blockbuster books.

Another way to get free review copies is to join your favorite author's newsletter or street team. The author will usually send out a notice when review copies of their next book are ready.

Sign Up for Newsletters

Many authors give a free ebook to new subscribers as a Thank You for signing up for their newsletter. You can also visit Instafreebie as many authors use the service to gain subscribers by providing free ebooks.

If you sign up for Girl Who Reads's newsletter, you will get a free ebook as a Thank You, plus throughout the year I pick out free ebooks for your birthday and holidays.

Free Kindle and Nook Books

Did you know that you can see the 100 most popular free ebooks in a number of genres at Amazon? And if you are a Prime member, as part of your membership you get access to a bunch of ebooks for free (and its not just books, but magazines too). And if audio books are more your thing, your membership gives you access to Audible titles at no additional charge.

It isn't as easy for Nook users to find free ebooks, but they are out there. I usually browse the the Amazon free list and then search B&N for the ones I'm interested in.

Just a note: These free ebooks are often for a limited time or may be for the first book in a series. But if you are in need of reading material and you have reached your book buying budget limit, these ebooks can fill the need. As bonus you might discover a new favorite author.


Giveaways are a great way to get you hands on free print books. One of the books I read this month and another one I just started were won from Goodreads. LibraryThing also offers giveaways for advance reader copies.

Bloggers also have giveaways.

And that concludes the A to Z Challenge 2017 for Girl Who Reads. I'm going to spend a few more days reading blogs and leaving comments, so be sure to leave a link to your site in the comments. If you find yourself in need of a reading recommendation, I hope you will turn to us.

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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  1. Thanks Donna for this great post. I am going to check out Netgalley. Many of the books I read are free Amazon books. It is a great way to find new authors.

    And congratulations on completing the challenge!

    Emily | My Life In Ecuador | Zoo - I live in one!

  2. Congratulations on finishing the A to Z Challenge and thanks for visiting/commenting on my blog! I'm a big fan of the library and check out e-books all the time. With budget cuts always looming, we need to use our public libraries so they stay open! Hope to stop back here during the year, and look forward to your A to Z Reflections post.

  3. Good post. As an author, I give review digital copies of my books to people who would like to review them. I know my publisher has them available too. Find me here.LINK

  4. Love my free books, and I use everything you've mentioned. I used to get a ton of free books from Amazon (as a Vine reviewer), but now they give mostly products. NetGalley and the library are my options-of-choice.

  5. I'll go for free books on Kobo and Netgalley, though my issue is when I find a really great author, I go and buy the rest of their books.

    I sometimes offer my books for free. (Her Endearing Young Charms is currently free on Smashwords with a coupon, until 6 May.)

    Her Grace, Heidi from Romance Spinners

  6. Love this list! I do blog reviews on books and have amazon. The others are new to me. Now I just need to find more time to read more!!

  7. they're all great ways to get free books but I don't read on a screen or own a e-reader & I rarely win any contest I entered but it's okay. our chances of getting free books is always high even if we don't try.

    congrats on finishing the challenge. have a lovely day.

  8. Great post! I'm going to pass it along to a couple friends.

    DB McNicol, author & traveler

  9. Thanks for stopping by - now have to read your A-Z posts. I use a lot of these ways to get books - and still I buy some. Sometimes I just have to have a new book (like Robson's) or I love the author (again Robson or Louise Penny)