Saturday, January 17, 2015

How to Read Books for Free Without Going to the Library

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Let me start by saying I love going to the library and this post is in no way designed to discourage you from going :)  But if your schedule is anything like mine, regular trips to my local branch are almost impossible since they are open the same hours as my full-time job.  If you find yourself in a similar position here are a couple of ways to find free books!

Amazon
I regularly check out the Top 100 Free Kindle books on Amazon.  This list is updated on an hourly basis and can be sorted by fiction/non-fiction, genre, sub-genre and even reader age.  I don't own a Kindle but I do have their app on my phone and my computer.  

A couple warnings: while the Top 100 Free Books list is updated hourly authors can change the price of their books at any time so books that are on the list may not be free.  Also, many of the books as you sort further by sub-genres aren't always the best quality in terms of editing -- they are often self published and may or may not follow grammar, spelling and punctuation rules :)  Books that are well-written on the Top 100 Free List tend to be the first of a series to encourage you to purchase the rest of the series.

iTunes, Google Play and Nook all have similar lists associated with their apps.

Digital Media Zone
Did you start a book on Amazon and fall in love only to discover it's the first of a series?  Never fear...I have another option for you :)  

The Huntsville/Madison County Library is a participant in Digital Media Zone.  If you have a HMCPL card, you can check out any ebook (or audiobook!) they have in the DMZ library and download it to your Kindle (or app), view it as a pdf file or read it in your browser.  You must have your PIN number for your library card :)

You can hold up to three books at a time and check out five at a time for 7-14 days (you set your preference).  One warning -- if you check out a book and read it via the Kindle option you cannot return the book once you're done before your 14 days ends.  So if you have another book you want to read you have to wait :)

HMCPL also offers ebooks through freading and axis360...I have no experience with these other two formats but assume they are similar.

Paperback Swap 
Do you prefer a book in your hand instead of an ereader?  Paperback Swap may be for you.  This one is not completely free -- but let me explain first.  

To start you list 10 books you have in your library you are willing to part with.  Once you have your 10 books listed you receive two credits.  With those credits you can request any book another member has and they will pay to ship that book to you.  In return, if someone requests a book from you, you pay to ship it to them and receive a credit to "buy" another book.  Media mail shipping is around $3.00 per book (less if it's a small, under 13 oz. book).  

If there isn't a book you want "in stock," you can create a wish list...once that book becomes available they will either send you a notification or you can place the book on auto-send and if you have credits available it will ship to you automatically.

I use this option for those books I want to keep -- I've requested the Harry Potter series, Lord of the Rings series, Inheritance series and a few others all in hardback through Paperback Swap.

Bonus:
Tyndale Rewards
If you enjoy Tyndale Publishing books you can join their rewards program -- by completing activities such as surveys or product reviews you earn points.  You can then redeem your points for any number of books in their catalog.

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