Borrow eBooks From Your Local Library to Save Money

by Kevin on November 10, 2011

I’m a huge fan of sitting down and reading a good book. I’ll read personal finance books, business management, and various genres of non-fiction. If you’re a bookworm and find yourself reading a lot, a natural suggestion to save money is to use your local library system for free book rentals. But as consumer electronics push out into the hands of more people, it becomes much more convenient to read books not in physical, heavy book form but as eBooks on your favorite device.

eBook Purchase Options

Until recently your eBook reading options were pretty limited. You could buy a copy of an eBook from one of the major players in technology: Amazon’s Kindle, Apple’s iBook market, or Google’s Android marketplace. As you might imagine all of these options have costs associated with them. In some cases these digital copies or eBooks actually cost more than the physical hard copies of the same book. There is a perceived benefit because you can take your digital copy with you on any device that uses that eBooks, and you can carry thousands of eBooks on a single digital device.

However, there is still a cost involved, and you could get the same exact book at the library for free if you have a little patience. Plus, as nice as it is to carry around thousands of books in your iPad, how many books does one person ready concurrently? And do you read the same book more than 3 times, ever? There has to be a better way.

Libraries Have Digital Copies, Too

As it turns out, there is a better way. Obviously this is dependent upon your local library system, but my local system does offer digital book rentals. You have access to the file that holds the book for a certain period of time – 21 days in my library’s case – and then you lose access to it. You can’t keep the book forever, and you can’t keep it rented out if someone else is in line behind you.

Why You Should Use the Library

This is a fantastic alternative to the expensive habit of filling your home or electronic device with books. You lose the clutter of having books in your home that you no longer read without having the added expense of downloading everything onto an eReader. There may be some titles that you simply can’t wait to have, but how many times have you absolutely needed to read a book right that second. If you have ever benefited from being patient with your local library system, then the library’s eBooks should benefit you as well. And if you haven’t tried out the library recently, do so!

Downside to Using the Library for Digital Books

There is one major downside to consider when you think of using your library for your digital book copies. First, there are a limited number of copies available to be rented out digitally. If someone borrowed the digital book today, you might have to wait 3 weeks to get your shot at it. This goes against the mentality of instant gratification through digital downloads of books online. If you decide you want to read a book at 11pm, you can go online, pay the price, and have it on your device instantly.

Reasons to Use the Library

Haven’t used the library recently? Whether you want physical books, help with research, or digital books, the library is a great resource for you. Nothing is perfect, but if you are looking to save money on books then the library offers a free alternative to heading down to your favorite bookstore (digital or on main street). Plus, your taxes are paying for the library already – you’ve already spent the money with your local municipality. You might as well get your money’s worth.

Get Free Books with Amazon Kindle

Amazon has recently introduced a pretty impressive offer for its Kindle line of devices. If you have a Kindle, Kindle Touch, Kindle Keyboard, or Kindle Fire and also sign up for Amazon’s Prime membership (which gives you free 2 day shipping) you can borrow one book at a time from Amazon. They have over 5,000 titles available including best sellers — this isn’t a list of duds. However, Amazon Prime membership does cost $79 per year, so you need to factor that cost into your calculations. If you order from Amazon often and would benefit from the shipping perk and already have a Kindle, this offer might be a good fit for your digital book borrowing needs.

{ 3 comments }

Ndubuisi November 11, 2011 at 1:18 am

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[email protected] November 12, 2011 at 11:53 pm

I love getting Kindle books for free. Most of them are classics, but I’m fine with that. After all, a book is a classic when it has remained valued by readers year after year for many years. That’s a good recommendation!

yourlifeforless November 14, 2011 at 2:54 pm

I love the library! It’s one of my favorite places to go if I need some quiet time to myself. I enjoy reading the magazines, newspapers, and checking out the personal finance section. Plus, everything is free!!

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