Digital Library for the Road—You’re Probably Missing Out on Free Books (& More!)
If I carried every book and magazine I read in a month in physical copies, I would exceed airline baggage fees in just paper weight. The van would be so stuffed that we’d be using magazines instead of pillows. In short, it would be madness. For those of us with highly mobile lives—or those of us who want to cull clutter and only have a bookshelf that boasts the best of the best books—the answer is obviously to use an e-reader.
But beyond that—books on Kindle are freaking expensive. And if you don’t have easy access to a neighborhood library, or don’t want to bring library books on the road with you, what are you supposed to do?
Your Local Library, Online
Thanks to a wonderful app called Overdrive, you can get ebooks and audiobooks on loan from your library! (I remember when I had exhausted one particular author’s works on my library card and Peter gave me his so I could log in to a second library, I was so touched that I actually cried. Best Valentine’s Day present ever. For real.) Anyway, you can usually take out around five books and audiobooks (five of each, that is!), and your loan period can be up to two weeks. It’s seriously the greatest thing I have ever discovered. As someone who devours books (Powers once told me watching me read is like watching a kid tear into a birthday cake, and Peter’s mom makes fun of my reading concentration face regularly), I love this steady flow of cheesy mystery novels as well as best-selling nonfiction stuff. It’s amazing and I can’t recommend enough: Go to your local library and ask what they have! (It also means NO late fees, ever.)
Did you know there are tons of free books available on Kindle? And sure, I’ll admit a lot of them are freaking terrible. But there are some gems, and sometimes, authors will have one of their older books available free to entice you to buy their latest. I’m a fan of cheesy mystery novels, and there are tons of those. Peruse the top 100 free books here!
Kindle Unlimited and Audible Trials
This one will end up costing you if you don’t cancel, but I know a ton of on-the-road athletes who swear by Kindle Unlimited (or Audible’s subscription service, for book-on-tape types). You gain access to a ton of books, but definitely do the math and see if any of them are books you would actually pay for, and that many of the books you want to be reading are available.
Project Gutenberg & Standard Ebooks
I cannot believe how many classic books that are available FOR FREE on Project Gutenberg that I’ve paid for on Amazon. I finally switched and realized that so many of the classic books I wanted to read (Pride and Prejudice, Anna Karenina, etc.) are on there! I’m experimenting with the Lexcycle Stanza app on my iPad for downloading the ebooks, and I’m so stoked to have access to all the classics on here. Standard Ebooks is a new site that’s taking Project Gutenberg books and making more ereader-friendly (for Kindle, yay!) versions, so check that out as well!
Kindle Family Sharing
I had no idea this was a thing until I realized that Peter had a book that I wanted to read already bought on his Amazon account. It seemed insane that I couldn’t borrow it the same way I would steal a print book from him. And it turns out, you can combine accounts (it’s the next level after you’ve already shared library cards from different towns). It’s called Amazon Household and it’s super easy to setup. So if you have a partner that has excellent taste in books, take advantage!
Texture by Next Issue
This is a paid app but it’s so freaking good I’m mentioning it anyway. It’s Netflix for magazines: for under $10 per month, you get access to hundreds of major magazines (I read about 20 monthly), plus a huge archive. I cannot say enough good things about it, it’s been my way of staying current and keeping up with fitness, wellness and fashion trends—plus, my dad has it on his iPad and reads all the DIY magazines, so he owes me some DIY projects when we finally have a house.
One last note: I am a HUGE fan of real books. Our house, when we have one, will be full of huge bookshelves. And as an author, I’ll add a plea to readers—if you like an author, support him or her by shelling out the $$ to buy a book! (I buy a ton as gifts if I loved the e-version that I borrowed.)
photo via Ben White on Unsplash