Books on a Budget

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I don’t have a lot of disposable income.  It can be an issue when you’re reading 100+ books a year.  I know a lot of us, as bloggers receive free copies for review, but if you’re just starting out as a book blogger and still trying to establish your presence as a reviewer, reading can quickly become an expensive pastime.

Over the years I’ve become pretty adept at finding deals on books!  It can take a lot of effort and patience, if like me, your TBR hangs out in the 700 range, but it’s usually easy to maintain once you’ve put it together.



A lot of fellow readers I know utilize eReaderIQ.  It’s pretty easy to use, and there are two ways to use it.  The simplest way is to check it daily for price drops.  You can put limits on minimum or maximum prices,  search by percentage off, and sort by genre.  The second way to use it, is to make an account, add books to a watch list, and get an email notification when a book you want has reached a certain price.  You can also add authors to a watch list, and get a notification any time one of their books drops in price.

Advantages:  It’s nice to receive email notifications, and once your watch list is all set, you don’t have to do anything else unless you add or remove books from that list.  Another thing I love is looking at the price watch history.  You can see the lowest price point the book has ever been offered at, and their algorithms will make recommendations to purchase or wait based on the frequency and current price point of the sale.

Disadvantages: It only pings books about once a day (and some Kindle deals are known to drop for only a few hours.  If you have an author you love who also has a common sounding name (Stephen King, Mark Lawrence) eReaderIQ doesn’t seem to differentiate between THE Stephen King and that other guy who also happens to be named Stephen King. Free eBook of the Month

Tor.Com Free eBook

This is one of my favorite offerings from one of my favorite publishers.  Simply sign up here, and receive an email notification whenever a new book becomes available for download. (Their new one is available for download right now!)

Advantages:  It’s totally free, no review required, you get an email notification, and don’t even have to set a password.  It is available as a Kindle download and a PDF file I believe.

Disadvantages: You don’t get a choice.  Often times the book is being offered for free because there is a sequel coming up Tor would like to encourage you to purchase.  Additionally, for a few months I made the mistake of trying to send the books to myself via my phone.  Now those books are only on my phone (and I really am not keen on reading them there).  And since Kindle has no record of a purchase, I can’t even utilize the Content and Devices feature to transfer them to another device.  Hardwiring my phone to computer doesn’t make a difference either.

GoodReads Giveaways

GoodReads Giveaways

I have pretty good luck with GoodReads Giveaways.  I won six last year.  Which is admittedly, a very small fraction of my reading, but it still always brightens my day when I wake up to get one of those emails.  I do think the fact that I have been reviewing regularly on GoodReads for three years factors into this.  I know that reviewing your giveaway wins on GoodReads factors in.  The good news is, I don’t think that anyone really polices what you write in terms of your review, so simply putting a little blurb in there like: I won this and I am so excited to read it!  Sort of tricks the system into believing you’ve reviewed it.

Disadvantages: Winning is random and not guaranteed.  The offerings are not always what you are looking for.  Reviews are expected and I haven’t found GoodReads to be incredibly forgiving in terms of timeline.  I’m a mood reader, so I’ve sometimes made the mistake of entering giveaways with no real intention of reading the book soon after receiving it.  Not reviewing the book has definitely led to not winning for long periods of time.


BookishFirst Giveaways

This is another giveaways type site.  You can sign up here and check out all the rules.  The way it works is, you read a sample, and give it a first impression review.  When you complete your first impression, you can check a box saying whether you’d like to be entered into the raffle to win a physical ARC of the book, and I believe they have since added an option to receive a kindle version.

Advantages: There’s no real barrier to entry.  You don’t have to meet certain stat requirements for your blog or follower count.  Anyone who is willing to review the book can give it a try.  Out of the 4 raffles I entered, I won 3, so success rate is pretty high, as I think this site is less widely known than some of the others. (Disclaimer: I have not entered one of these raffles since 2018.)

Disadvantages: It’s still randomized and there’s no guarantee of winning.  You’re still expected to get your review up in a timely manner.  There aren’t always a lot of options.  (This week they appear to only have two books on raffle.)  Sometimes the samples are large and reading the first impression can be time consuming, and annoying because it’s done on a computer.

Amazon Wishlists

Amazon Wishlist

This is my current preferred method for tracking ebook deals.  Most of my GoodReads TBR is on an Amazon Wishlist.  I check it every morning, sort the prices low to high, and see what prices dropped that day.

Advantages: There are a good many price drops that are not always advertised on the Kindle Daily or Monthly Deals page.  Hunting through eReaderIQ can sometimes be laborious, and there is no guarantee they’ve caught the price drop yet.  The wishlist is in real time. Furthermore, you’re only looking at the prices of books you actually want to read. I sign up for all the deals emails, BookBub, BookPerk, The Portalist… but I don’t often look at them because I don’t need to be tempted by something simply because the price is low.  I’d rather pay full price for a good book than a dollar or two for a bad one.  The Amazon Wishlist cuts out the temptation.  If a book made it there, it’s because I know I want to read it.

Disadvantages: Maintaining and adding to this list (or taking the item away if you’ve changed your mind) can be time consuming.  Mine is in need of updating and I’m loathing the idea.  It’s very easy for this wishlist to grow out of control.

Other sources: These are mostly email newsletters I receive letting me know about various sales happening on eBooks.  I tend to have the best luck with BookRiot, it sends a daily digest and info about giveaways (though I’ve never won one of those) and BookBub is okay.  The Portliest focuses on a lot of the classics.  Book Perk is sponsored by Harper Collins, but Simon & Schuster, and Penguin Random House both publish similar newsletters for their own books.


Book Perk

The Portalist

BookRiot Deals

I couldn’t not give a shout out to my local library who has or can acquire just about anything my SFF loving heart could desire.  And a special, special thank you to all you local used bookshop owners, for feeding my reading addiction.

How about you?  What’s your method for saving money on books?

25 thoughts on “Books on a Budget

  1. I’m lucky to be able to buy just about any book I want, but I’m established in my career and I have a hubby who makes good money. But these are great resources, some of them I’ve never heard of!

    I find that suddenly there are a lot more Goodreads giveaways. I know for a while they were charging authors/publishers to host a giveaway and the amount dropped substantially. Maybe they’ve done away with those charges?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Maybe? I didn’t look too deeply into that part of it when I wrote this, but I have noticed the indie authors and smaller publishers creeping back in. I remember seeing those announcements and thinking they would be the end of GR giveaways. Glad I was wrong!

      And I wish I could afford to pay the full price! I’d rather not have to bother with all this stuff and I’d love to be able to better support the authors- but I’m hailing from single Mom land. I have to save wherever I can and books are kind of the only thing I really buy for myself.


    • I love the Amazon wishlist- and I really love it when I find a good steal! I just need to update it more frequently. There’s stuff on there I bought from other sources, and stuff I need to add… but I agree its the best way!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great list! I also used to participate in the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program, which is similar to the Goodreads Giveaways. I had pretty good luck with getting books that way — but again, it is random, and I often signed up for any books that looked halfway interesting instead of books I actually wanted to read previously.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve definitely signed up for a few I decided I didn’t actually want to read later. I feel like the purpose of a giveaway is kind of void if you also have to review it. The real value in the giveaway (although reviews are important too) is the visibility they provide. If 2,000 people add a book to their TBR, that’s pretty good. If it gets even 10% of people to read it- that’s 200! Granted, that’s small potatoes for some books, but if even some of them tell others about the book you’re getting traction.

      Now I know there are books I skip because I don’t know when I’ll ever be in the mood to read them. And then I pretty much forget about them. If they had been added to my TBR I might revisit them in the future.

      Sorry. Fell down the rabbit hole for a moment. Lol


  3. I hadn’t heard of most of these; your are the thrifty queen! I’m impressed you’ve won so many Goodreads giveaways. Maybe I don’t sign up for enough of them, but in 12 years I’ve never won. I should check out the Amazon wish list. There are a few S.M. Reine books I want that are more expensive, and although I’m signed up for her newsletter, I know a lot of authors only announce a drop in price for their Kindle books via Twitter, for example.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Month in Review: January 2020 | Hamlets & Hyperspace

    • I LOVE used books!! I don’t know why. I prefer them to new books. I think because it feels like a Secret shared with a fellow reader. Like hey I loved this- now I’m passing it on to someone else who will hopefully love it. I just think books are meant to be shared I guess.


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