Her Bookish Things

Reading When Broke

How To Read When You’re Broke

Reading When You’re Broke (Yes! It’s possible!)

Finding that extra cash for books can be quite a struggle. If you keep up with most of the book community, it can be a bit depressing to see everyone reading all the books you wish you could afford. That was me at the beginning of last year. All my funds go toward my medical bills, and reading can be an expensive hobby. But thankfully, due to some amazing friends and research, I’ve learned some ways to do what I love without having to spend. And as I know many of you face the same financial strain, I wanted to share my personal experience with reading when broke!

The library is your best friend.

Seriously, if you don’t have a membership, go get one now. That being said, yes, they don’t always have what you want in stock, and sometimes you’ll have to wait for someone to return the book you’re after. However, on most library websites, you can request a book and they will ship it to your library (most libraries have networks!). Don’t have a car or a means to get to the actual library? Most libraries ALSO have an online e-book / audiobook service like Hoopla and Overdrive! Don’t have an e-reader? No problem! Even if you have a smartphone, you can download the kindle app and send a rental book to your device. In short, libraries are the best tool I’ve found for reading when broke!

Amazon is cooler than you think.

Loaning Books

Yep, if you have an amazon account, you can actually borrow or loan your kindle books to and from your friends! So, if your friend has that sequel you are dying to get your hands on, ask for a loan! It lasts up to 14 days. Here’s an article on how to do it


Additionally, if you’re into audiobooks at all, check out Audible.com! There is a little cost involved, however. Right now, accounts start at $15 a month (although there are trials available). Audiobooks are available by purchasing credits ($15 a piece) or by buying the book directly. Sometimes credits are more effective if the book is more than the cost of the credit. If you do sign up, your first credit is free. Each month comes with a free credit as well, which means that even though you are spending the 15/mo, it comes with a book each time. The best part is you will be able to return an audiobook you don’t like, and get your credit back. Amazon has a ‘no questions asked’ policy for returns!

Not sure if audiobooks are for you? Check out my article – ‘Audiobooks – Yea or Nah’!

Kindle Unlimited

Lastly, Amazon also offers a program called Kindle Unlimited ($9.99/mo) which is unlimited reading rentals. Now, not all books are on there, but I’ve seen some great series pop up.  Check it out here.

ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies)

Do you love reading and reviewing books before they come out? Do you have a book blog or Goodreads account that you share your reviews on? Consider trying for Advanced Reader Copies! ARCs are free copies given by publishers to reviewers in order to generate interest and feedback before the release date.

There are two main websites that I know of personally: Netgalley and Edelweiss. Hop on over and make a profile! Be sure to include links on where you will end up sharing the reviews, and any stats that prove your review will be seen (blog traffic, followers,etc.) Publishers like to see that you are excited about a book and plan to share it around. Be sure to actually read and review each book you are approved for, as publishers will take note (and on Netgalley, it will show your feedback ratio.)

Of course there are other ways of getting ARCs, and several other bloggers have written about establishing relationships with book publishers / best practices, and if you’re that serious about blogging and reviewing, I recommend doing more research!


Yes, believe it or not, you can find great books at stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army. I’ve seen full series dropped off at Goodwill personally. All that being said, please leave these donated books for people who really can’t afford them another way (unless that is you!)




This is by far one of my favorite avenue for getting physical copies of books. Books are SO expensive, even on affordable websites like Amazon. But BookOutlet.com has the best deals I’ve seen anywhere. The books are all new, unless they are specifically labeled ‘scratch and dent’, and the normal price range is around $2-$5 per book. Rarely are they more than this. The best part is they update regularly! Don’t see what you are looking for? Keep checking back! I’ve found almost everything I’ve ever wanted by keeping an eye out!

If you have seen my Bookstagram account (@herbookishthings) on Instagram, most of the books you see are either library rentals taken at creative angles, ARCs, or books that I’ve purchased for less than $4 at Bookoutlet!


Book Depository

Another favorite of mine is Book Depository! It is a little more cost involved BUT it has almost every book you can think of, including new releases, international editions, and more! Plus, FREE SHIPPING worldwide! I’m telling you, sometimes it is SO difficult to find a reasonable price on newer books, and even if you do, chances are, shipping will be outrageous.

This is actually my preferred way to make a wishlist for things like Christmas/birthdays/etc. So even if you can’t afford what you want now, create an account and make a wishlist!


All this being said, there are plenty of other avenues to read for free or cheap, including book swapping, other loan websites, and more. These are just my preferred methods, and I hope they help! Reading is such a wonderful hobby and shouldn’t be limited to those who can afford hard copies. Have you found other methods or websites that help? Any other suggestions for reading when broke? Please share them below!


  1. Reply April 20, 2017 at 1:45 pm

    This is such a wonderful post, Brittney! One of the things that honestly kind of bugs me about book blogging is that a lot of bloggers seem to have an aversion to the library! I mean, I LOVE buying books and wish I could more, but the fact is, I just can’t. I wish more people would recognize that it is okay to use the library! It’s honestly where about 75% of my books come from, and it’s so nice. I also like Overdrive. I keep meaning to try Book Outlet – maybe someday!!

  2. Reply April 20, 2017 at 3:32 pm

    As a librarian I FULLY support you promoting libraries. 🙂 Like you mentioned, most libraries are part of an inter-library loan system which is great. I live in Michigan and we have a system called MeLCat where you can essentially get a book from any library in Michigan (that participates) and it only takes about a week to get to your home library. I know it’s hard waiting sometimes but the possibilities are endless with that service. Some libraries even participate in WorldCat which has a HUGE amount of libraries participating from all over!

  3. Reply April 20, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    This is so wonderful!! I didn’t know I could return audiobooks I don’t like. And I get around 40 new hardcover books a year for free through that Blogging for Books site! They just added a lot of new YA books today 🙂

    1. Reply
      April 21, 2017 at 4:27 pm

      Omg I totally forgot about that website!! I’m SO trying it out!! Thanks!

      1. Reply June 6, 2017 at 9:27 pm

        What’s the site name?

  4. Reply April 20, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    Cool info Britney!

    1. Reply
      April 21, 2017 at 4:28 pm

      I hope it helped!

  5. Reply April 21, 2017 at 12:55 am

    Goodwill is my favorite way. I have gotten over 35 books (both hard and paperback) for around $20USD or so. I was able to find the entire Da Vinci Code series through two different thrift stores. My mom and I are so addicted to thrift store shopping.
    Thanks for sharing this! I will def be checking out some of the options. I espeically appericate the audiobooks info. My bf has severe depression so it makes it hard for him to read but he loves to read. He likes listening to books so I was looking at options for him so he could get into reading. 😀

    1. Reply
      April 21, 2017 at 4:29 pm

      Yes! Goodwill is so underrated!! Lots of people will bring entire series there if they didnt like it/etc! And I hope you guys enjoy audiobooks! I’m sorry to hear about your boyfriend with depression but I honestly think reading has helped me stay positive in my own circumstances and just having something fun to look forward to is a big plus!

  6. Reply April 21, 2017 at 9:43 am

    This is a great post!! I’ve grabbed a few books from my local library and it’s so nice to be able to have a few weeks with a book if I’m not entirely sure I’ll love it. I’ve never thought about going to Goodwill for books — I might have to check that out soon!

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Reply
      April 21, 2017 at 4:31 pm

      Yes thats how I feel! If I’m going to spend money on a book- I want to make sure I’ll love it!!

  7. Reply April 29, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    I needed this advice!!! I didn’t know I could borrow a book from a friend. Definitely will try it! AND BOOKS ARE SO EXPENSIVE SOMETIMES!!!!

    1. Reply
      April 29, 2017 at 6:13 pm

      Aww yay! I’m so glad it helped! And YES I didn’t know you could lend on kindle either until last year! Books really are expensive so I just wanted to help!

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