Easy Reader

by K. M. Eldredge

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Like many people, I love to read. In addition to fiction, I enjoy cookbooks, histories, travel books, and reference books. When I was younger, I liked nothing better than to take a fistful of dollars over to the bookstore each week. However, times have changed and my money isn't unlimited, though my appetite for reading material seems to grow bigger and bigger.

In the past few years, I've learned some strategies to find some cheap and easy reads.

If you know people are looking for the perfect gift for you for your birthday or a holiday, put the word out that you're interested in a particular book, author, subject or series. You might want to mention that your favorite bookseller has gift cards or gift certificates.

A friend and I exchange books, magazines and even newspapers every once in awhile. I've been able to read a lot of romance books that way, and she was happy to take home a bag of cookbooks. Maybe you have a friend or acquaintance with whom you can swap books. This is really convenient for the times when I just can't make it out of town to go to a bookstore and I'm too preoccupied to shop anywhere else.

Sometimes, it's convenient to hit the mall bookstore.

  • If there's a discount card program, I'll use it because the card usually yields a rebate coupon in addition to markdowns.
  • For fiction, I wait for a hardcover book to come out in paperback format, which saves around $15 to $20.
  • I check out the bargain racks. Last year's bestsellers often end up here, along with great cookbooks and reference material.
  • I look for markdowns, especially before the holidays.

Used books are also popular, and there are a number of venues to find them, such as:

  • Used bookstores. Even the smaller ones can yield interesting finds. Some will give you credit for the books you'd like to trade in for new-to-you books.
  • Thrift stores. The books might not be in the best condition, but I've never paid more than a dollar for a book in a thrift store. I'm more likely to find fiction than non-fiction here, but I've been surprised by the occasional reference book.
  • Library book sales. I've been able to get bags of books on a wide variety of topics at library book sales. The ones I've been to have been annual events. Some libraries let volunteers who help with the sale have first choice.
  • Yard, garage and estate sales. You can pick up books at rock bottom prices at these sales.

You can acquire new and used books online as well. When I can't put my hands on something in town, I'll fire up the computer and do a search for my book. In addition to the big retailers, I check out auctions as well. This is a good strategy for out of print and hard to find books.

I also like to read e-books, available through the online retailers. There are thousands of titles out there, and they give me the added bonus of being easy to move since the e-books are simply stored on my hard drive or the retailer's server.

The websites of various magazines offer articles and short stories online. Some of the services require a subscription, but many online versions of magazines have loads of free content.

Also, there are thousands of amateur and pro writers who post short stories, articles, blogs (which are online journals) and even novellas and novels all over the Web for free. If you're interested in a specific genre, do a search and see what you can discover.

Of course, the obvious solution for free reading material is the library. I've been following a fantasy series that is up to ten books now. If I'd bought them in a store when they were first released, I would have spent well over $300. Books are a wonderful gift with which to pamper yourself and your loved ones. However, your books don't have to eat up your entertainment budget. Make a spending plan, go hunting, and have fun.

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