A Guiltless Guide to #Free Books

  • Date Saturday, January 23, 2016

Over the years as a book blogger, I've a lot of people wondering where I get so many "free" books. In this post, I compile some of these sources. Some I personally use and others are based on what I've learned in the book blogging community. This list is by no means comprehensive, but it is a start!


Without further ado, here's your Guiltless Guide to Free Books:

Really, absolutely free

When I say "really free" I mean it ... a free book with absolutely no strings attached. You don't need to do anything after acquiring the book ... whether you read it (or not), or post a review about it, it is totally your call.


The library, of course! 

If you're lucky enough to be in a country where there are public libraries, don't be all duh. Do yourself a favor: go to your library and get your library card, your passport to free books (and more). While the books are loaners, you can borrow practically any book, even request titles ... so go crazy!

Family, friends and other book lovers

Obvious but probably overlooked. Connect with book lovers in your personal circles and borrow, exchange, and even trade. Just ask and you'll likely be surprised at how many fellow book lovers are out there. For example, I found out during lunches or personal convos at the office that quite a number of my colleagues love to read and they're very generous with sharing their books.

Giveaways!

Giveaways abound on the internet. There are so many giveaways out there that it would be impossible to list them all here. Here are some places to look for book giveaways:
  • Publishers give out free books all the time. Look them up in your country, sign up for their newsletters, and link up on social media and watch for their announcements. Look up Publishers in your country on PublishersGlobal.com.
  • LibraryThing, a long-time book cataloging website offers its members informal author or member giveaways via its LibraryThing Members Giveaways. It's free to sign up.
  • Book Blogs (like mine!) are a regular source of free books. Publishers and authors link up with the book blogging community to promote their books. Hop around some book blogs and most probably give away free books. You can start with I am a Reader not a Writer for extensive giveaway hops.

Book Crossing

Book Crossing is such a fun book exchange website and I'm pretty sure they've been around since 2010 thereabouts. Its appeal lies in its manner of book exchange. Physical books are labeled, registered in the Book Crossing database and "released into the wild." People can look on the website (or even chance upon the book) and can take the book for free. This lucky person should log in the website that they "caught" the book. According to Book Crossing:
At the time of this writing, over 850,000 active BookCrossers have collectively registered almost seven million books which are traveling around 130 countries! Imagine the world of opportunities for your book once you've labeled and shared it.

So many sources of free e-books

I personally haven't gone the route of e-books but there are so many sources of free e-books! This category warrants an entire post of its own! Check out some of the links below:

Strings attached "free" 

Some may tout the following as free sources but my experience has taught me that you should always read the fine print. There is more to these "free" books.

Most of the "free" books I get through book blogging belong to the strings attached variety. While my own review policy states that I accept a book it is for "honest review consideration"  so at the least is that I need to read it, and likely review and post on the blog. Bloggers, be careful when accepting a free book, most likely it isn't really "free."

Bookmooch

Illustration credit Andrice Arp, courtesy of BookMooch.com
I used Bookmooch for years! It is basically a book trading website using the trading currency of "Bookmooch points." Depending on how many books you are willing to list for trade (each book is equivalent to say 0.10 of a point), you can get a few "really free" books based on the points you rack up. Then in order to get more points, you will need to be willing to spend money to ship the book to whomever makes a request for your book.

I used Bookmooch when I was in the Philippines because certain editions or even titles were not available. Shipping costs were quite affordable in comparison to buying a new book. However, when shipping costs increased, I just wasn't willing to shell out the money and so I stopped.

Goodreads

Goodreads has been around for a long time and I remember that Goodreads Giveaways used to be called Goodreads First Reads since it focused mainly on new releases. It still gives away prereleases, and more. Although no review is required, it does provide this caveat (bold print, mine), which I would conservatively interpret to mean that Goodreads prefers you review the free book:
Winners are encouraged but not required to review the books they win. In compliance with FTC guidelines, if you review the book, please disclose in your review that you received the book for free through Goodreads Giveaways.

LibraryThing

Similar to Goodreads, LibraryThing offers advance copies in their LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. Unlike Goodreads, LibraryThing explicitly states: 
Early Reviewers distributes advance readers editions of upcoming books from select publishers, in exchange for reviews.  

Book tour companies/hosts

Book tour companies or hosts offer a free book in exchange for a book review. The blogging world has plenty! There are tour companies for practically every genre out there. Again, this category probably requires an entire post. As a book blogger, I encourage you to search these up and find out what the guidelines and rules are as they vary widely. I currently only work with TLC Book Tours because I love their selection of books and they encourage honest reviews.

Publishers and publicists

Many advance review copies of new books are given away for promotion through publishers and publicists. This means that you're pretty much obligated to read, review and post about it on your blog, on Amazon, social media, or any other way to simply create buzz about the book. 

You'll need to get on their mailing lists. Depending on where you are, you can connect with publishers in a multitude of ways. Some have very clear programs where you can sign up, others require that the blogs they work with have good reach and social media numbers, and some you'll need to reach out to yourself. Look up Publishers in your country on PublishersGlobal.com


E-books (again!)

New releases always seem to have strings attached and e-books aren't exempt. Here's looking at you Netgalley and Edelweiss.

Tell me, friends, where do you get your books? If you have an secret sources of free books, I'd love to be let in on the secret!

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