The Kindle Paperwhite is one of the best purchases I’ve made recently because it makes reading so much more convenient and accessible. I wind down at night with a good book instead of scrolling mindlessly through social media, and I see long commutes as an opportunity rather than an annoyance.
When I first got my Kindle, I was under the impression that all ebooks were cheap, and while they’re certainly more affordable than a paperback or hardcover book, some still go for up to $15.
If you’re an avid reader with an ever-expanding library, these costs can add up quickly. And if you’re like me and hesitate to spend that much on a book that you’re not sure you’ll enjoy or want to keep forever, then you might also feel stuck. I set out to figure out how to access more books without the financial burden and discovered options that ensure I’ll never have to pay full-price for an ebook again.
Whether you’re looking to cut down on costs or are more of a book borrower than a book owner, these five sites and subscriptions will help you maximize your book consumption for less money and commitment.
How it works: If you have a public library card (which you should because it’s free and easy to sign up for!), OverDrive is invaluable. Find your local library, sign in with your library card number, then browse all the ebook and audiobooks your library has to offer by subject, language, and keywords.
You can also place holds on titles and add books to a wish list. After you click “Borrow,” you’ll be directed to your Amazon account to download the title to your Kindle device. Once the loan period expires, the book will automatically be deleted from your account. I was very excited to discover OverDrive because it offers all the options and affordability of a library, without the inconvenience of visiting a physical location.
Cost: Free with a library card
How it works: Scribd is Insider Picks reporter Mara Leighton’s all-time favorite reading app and it’s not difficult to see why: for only $8.99 a month, you get truly unlimited access to hundreds of thousands of ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, and documents.
Since it lives on your phone and you don’t need to buy another device, Scribd makes consuming books easier than ever. You can also download books for offline reading, so not having service won’t be a problem.
Cost: Free 30-day trial, then $8.99/month
How it works: With Kindle Unlimited, you get access to over one million titles, including audiobooks and the latest issues of popular magazines. You can have up to 10 Kindle Unlimited titles in your library at one time, so you can keep a rotating selection of old favorites and new discoveries.
I’ve used Kindle Unlimited to finally read the books I’ve been meaning to for years, like “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Interpreter of Maladies,” and I’ve been able to revisit childhood classics like the “Harry Potter” series.
Cost: Free 30-day trial, then $9.99/month
How it works: Amazon’s latest perk for Prime members is Prime Reading, which gives free access to more than a thousand of the most popular books and magazines. You can download up to 10 titles at a time to your Kindle, Fire tablet, or Kindle app. These titles are updated every month.
It also includes Amazon First Reads, which gives you early access to one free Kindle book a month, chosen from a collection of editors’ picks. After diving into this month’s choice, I’m a big fan of this exclusive feature.
Cost: Free for Amazon Prime members