Not enough money to buy a bunch of books? No problem! Below are some free and affordable options for obtaining books legally.
Getting Your Hands on a New Release
Place a hold Before the Release Date.
A short time before the book’s release date, check to see if it is in the library catalog. It may not be listed as “available” but as something like “in processing” instead. You can still place a hold. Then you will (hopefully) be among the first to receive the book once it actually hits the shelves.
Put in a purchase request.
If you want a particular title, you can ask your library to purchase it–even if it has not been released yet. They will then typically put you on hold automatically, so you should be the first to receive the book if and when it arrives. (Note that libraries typically only purchase materials released in the past few years.)
Getting the Book When Your Home Library Doesn’t Own It
Use interlibrary loan.
If your library does not have the book you want, place an ILL. The library will find a library that owns the book and they will mail it to you. (Keep in mind that many libraries don’t ship off new releases.)
Request it from a Library in Your Local Library System.
If you don’t see the book you want at your library, modify your search so you are capturing results from all libraries with which yours is affiliated. You can then request the title and have it delivered for pick-up at your home library. You can then return it to your home library, as well–no need for travel.
Check it out from a different local library.
If you go to a local library with your photo ID, proof of residency, and a card from your home library, you can check out books at a different library. This should enable you to check out their new releases, since many libraries won’t give new titles to people who aren’t their patrons. It will also allow you to check out their ebooks, so you don’t have to keep going back if you live far away.
Check it out from a different library in the state.
Some libraries offer a card to anyone who lives in the same state. You typically apply online and receive the card in the mail. Then you can access their e-books and other online resources. The library may charge a fee or offer the card free free. We have a partial list of libraries who offer cards to out-of-town residents here, but you should go to the library website for all updated information.
Place a purchase request.
If your library does not own a book and it was published in the last few years, ask the to consider it for purchase. They will typically put you on hold so you will receive the book first, should they choose to buy it for their collection.
Getting the Book When You Can’t Leave Home
See if YOu Can Apply for a Card Online.
Some libraries will allow you to apply for a card online. You may have to show up in person, however, to receive full privileges and check out physical titles. You can also see if another library in the state will mail you a card. We have a partial list of libraries who offer cards to out-of-town residents here, but you should go to the library website for all updated information.
Ask about Homebound Services.
Many libraries will deliver books to your door. Simply tell them what you want and the titles comes to you!
Getting More Accessible Books
Books for Those with Vision Impairment
The Library of Congress will mail books in Braille and talking books to individuals with vision impairment.
Project Gutenberg has thousands of titles including ones not in English. If you live outside the U.S., you will have to check your country’s copyright laws before downloading, however.
Open Library has thousands of books available in the public domain. However, some libraries have also digitized their books and made them available to borrow.
You don’t need a Kindle to download free or cheap Kindle books. The Kindle app is available for various devices including tablets, smartphones, and laptops.
Simon and Schuster puts some of their YA titles online to be read free and legally.
The Library of Congress offers free access to thousands of primary materials in various languages. You may not find the latest YA release here, but it is a cool collection.
Library Book Sales
These also support your local library!
Used Book Stores
If you can’t find a book online, you can check to see if your local used bookshop has any hidden gems.
People tend to sell children’s books once their children are grown up so you might find some MG and YA if you check out community sales.
Little Free Libraries
See if anyone in your community has a Little Free Library and then check out the selection. You can give back by the community, too, by leaving a book of your own. Or, if your community has no libraries or no Little Free Library, start your own Little Free Library! Be the change you want to see!
These are like Little Free Libraries, except workplaces tend to have shelves or baskets where you can leave a book and take a book. You can also propose starting one in your workplace.