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.

eReaderIQ

eReaderIQ

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.

Tor.com 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

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.

BookBub

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?

Top Ten Tuesday: Unpopular Bookish Opinions

TTT-NEW

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic is unpopular bookish opinions, and while I’m sure my list of these is infinite, most of them apply to individual books and aren’t very generalized.  I’m also scared to write this post and offend my blogging buddies.  (Asking forgiveness and apologizing in advance.)

Historical fiction is a lot like fantasy.  On the surface, they seem like polar opposites, but I feel like historical fiction pre 1700’s has a lot in common with fantasy, and that becomes truer the farther back in time you go.  Sure, they’d be low fantasy and there will never be any outright magic, but how many fantasies are inspired by actual mythology?  Actual history?  I love historical fiction that feels like it could be fantasy and fantasy that feels like it could have happened IRL.

Witches and Wizards don’t interest me.  I realize this is tantamount to blasphemy on a blog dedicated to fantasy, but I’ve never read Harry Potter (I’m sorry okay!) have no idea which house I belong to (I probably can’t even name them all), and really have zero desire to read it beyond an academic interest in seeing what the fuss is about.  I’m not saying they are bad books- I’ve never read them.  I just prefer swords to spells.

On schools in general…. I’m not a fan of this trope either.  Protagonist attends magic/assassin/dragon rider school.  Protagonist screws up a lot and gets picked on by the rich/popular/overachieving kids, throw themselves into practice and studying and totally crush it at the final battle when they become valedictorian (or save the world).  Listen- as much fun as school is, I’d sort of rather just skip to the part where they’ve graduated and use their skills to do awesome stuff.  (Admittedly, I mostly enjoyed The Poppy War, but more so the second half than the first.)

Modern Writers Do It Better.  There I said it.  They just do.  Of course, they couldn’t have done it without all those classic writers that came before, and I’m sure I’d feel differently if I had been born 200 years ago.  Those writers were products of their times and societal context, and I’m in no way turning my nose up at them, but writers today are free to push boundaries as far as they like, and they are better for it.  Aside from that- most classics were penned by white males, and while diversity is still a huge issue in publishing, it’s a lot better than it was even fifty years ago and books will continue to improve because of it.

I don’t mind seeing the movie first.  I’ve never been that person that has to read the book first, and I’ve never really understood why this is a thing.  Whether you read it first or watch it first either way you’re going into something knowing the ending.  On top of that, the books usually are better.  So if you see the movie and like it, just think of all you have to look forward to in the book.  If you see the movie and don’t like it, you might still like the book (assuming you still want to read it).  The thing is- I love seeing a big box office film in the theaters. If I wait until I’ve read the book I might not ever get to see it on the big screen.  If I never see the movie at all I might never read the book.

Kindle

I prefer ebooks over physical copies.  I know books smell great and have fantastic covers and don’t taunt me with a percentage completed on the bottom of the page- but they take up too much space!  I can’t read physical books in the dark, and I can’t carry around 400 of them in my purse.

Ambiguous endings make me insane.  If I wanted to make up my own ending I’d write my own book.  I want to know what the author intended.  I want definitive answers and conclusions.  I don’t want to be left hanging.

Ambiguous scenery is okay.  Which is to say that if an author is waxing poetic about fields of heather and the blueness of the sky I’m probably skimming most of it.  More blasphemy I know.  The thing is- I’ve probably already formed an image in my head of what the setting looks like based on one or two sentences or general tone and vibe, and reading scenery descriptions is wasting my time.  Some authors are super wordsmiths I know, but an author has to be exceptionally talented to make me appreciate words on a page just for the love of words (I’m not that reader- I like stories not words.)

Hyper-competent protagonists don’t bother me… Is it realistic when the protagonist never makes a mistake?  No.  Is it realistic when they singlehandedly knockout 10 other guys twice their height and size and escape unscathed?  No.  Does it make for a fantastic and flawed character?  Probably not.  But as long as I’m having fun I don’t really care.  (Side note- Uhtred is incredibly flawed, just don’t expect him to lose in battle.)

Audiobooks

Audiobooks are just okay.  If I listen to a book instead of eye-reading it, I’m only going to absorb half the story.  Why bother investing the hours in a book I really wanted to read and love if I’m only going to absorb half the story?  I usually save audiobooks for non-fiction and memoirs, where if I only absorb half while I’m doing house chores, I don’t feel that bad about it.  I will say- I think audiobooks are great for short story collections where the narrative thread I have to follow is very short.  I’ve stopped listening to whole novels.  I just can’t do it.

I’m sure this is far from a comprehensive list of my unpopular opinions, but that covers a lot of it.  What unpopular opinions made your list?  Leave me a link below!