The TBR Pile: How I Actually Get Books

I have a massive TBR shelf.  In fact, it is technically a bookcase and a pile and 2 ebook readers.  I actually spend very little money on books.  For me, buying a copy means I love it so much I want to keep it incase I need to read it again.  Either that or I have a very strong memory about it and the printed book is the trigger for that memory.  For example, my first copy of Pride & Prejudice is both.

So, how do I get books for free?  Even though I have talked about conferences as a source for new books, most have not come from conferences.  My methods for getting most of my books are things you can do too.  There are three main ways.

1: My local library’s Overdrive service.  Overdrive provides libraries with large collections of ebooks and audiobooks.  Depending on your library system, you have access to these books for free.  I am lucky (because Massachusetts is awesome) to have access to 2 different Overdrive collections.  The smaller is through my local library system and the larger is from the Boston Public Library.  I keep both because sometimes it is easier to get a book through the smaller system than through the BPL.  Overdrive does let you sync with Kindles, but I use their app for both ebooks and audiobooks.

2: is my favorite way to get books.  The idea is simple: you send people your books and you request books from other people.  It use to be completely free, but now there is a small fee for each swap.  Basically, you pay for shipping and a bonus handling fee for the webpage.  I have been using them for 10 years and 90% of my books have been swapped through Paperback Swap.  I also get rid of many books this way.  The only problem (for me) is that I can’t swap my Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) because it is illegal to sell them in general.

3: GoodReads Give Aways is a new tool for me.  I know a number of people have GoodReads accounts, but never really play with them.  I keep track of my reading through GoodReads.  All the links out to books go through GoodReads.  I think GoodReads is one of 2 primary social networks for me.  No, Facebook is not the other; Ravelry is (for knitting).  One of their hidden features is their Give Aways program.  You can use it 2 ways.  First, if you build a wish list of books on your account, they will notify you when one of those books becomes available.  Second, you can look through all the give aways and see if something peaks your interest.  You aren’t guaranteed a copy, but you do have a chance.

These three are my best ways to get books.  Other than just buying them at Amazon or at a book store, how do you get the books you want?

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