Reading on the cheap?

How I spend less money reading.

Reading can cost quite a bit if you read quickly. New books and popular titles can cost in excess of $10 each. This adds up, but there are ways to get to reading without spending so much. The last six books I've finished reading cost me a grand total of $1. That $1 was spent on a single book, the other five books were free.

E-book content

I've realized that ebook content made available to me through my existing multimedia subscription is probably going to give me the best bang for my buck.
I have started reading books available to me through the one multimedia subscription that I have kept since cutting my recurring monthly expenses, as these books are free (or rather already paid for).

I have been reading on devices that I already own, like my laptop and older model tablet. To be honest, reading on a computer has been okay but I would rather read a real book with no backlight. I have decided to purchase a dedicated e-ink e-reader. While this is a purchase, and does not comply with some minimalists' goals spending less or having fewer electronic devices, I do like the paperless medium enough to encourage some rule breaking here.

Think about the number of physical books you would end up having to store if you wanted to keep copies, books that you want to read again later add up and take up tons of space. Especially if, like me, you have little dedicated space of your own keeping physical copies is not much of an option.

Think about all the personal and societal transportation and production costs involved with getting your hands on a physical book.

Public Libraries (This seems obvious, but there is more to know)

My friend from the trail taught me to go to libraries and look for their paperback sales. Every library I went to on trail would sell paper back books for a dollar or less. Buying books from libraries did not require having a library card.

Neither did we need library cards to sit and read books inside the library while it was open. Spending free time in a nice, quiet, clean library was extremely nice while on trail. I believe a public library would be a great place to spend your free time if you don't have much space to yourself and feel cooped up in your living situation. Unlike a coffee shop or other similar establishment there's no need to spend money at the library to hang out there.

If you are able to get a library card, you will of course be able to take books home with you. What many people do not know is that you can often borrow electronic copies of books from the library. Remember those expensive new and popular titles? Well these books can sometimes be found in electronic formats at libraries too! Using a library card is probably the most effective means of getting more expensive popular books and bringing down the cost of reading. You may need to wait for the book to become available when it is first released, as there will be many others who will want to read the book as well. Just remember there is no rush! Add the book to your reading list and keep an eye out for it.

Now, about library cards. Your local library may not have much of a selection, but you may be able to get a library card that can be used for a number of libraries in your region. See what library cards are available to you where you live. With a great number of electronic copies becoming available through public libraries, you could unlock a large collection of free books!

Little Libraries (local neighborhood libraries)

You have probably seen the little lending libraries that resemble bird houses. These local book drops are always worth checking, and you can find a surprising variety in each of these for how tiny they are. The books I have physical copies of and do not need to keep will go to these if I can find them. Throwing a paperback in the trash, and even recycling it, is a terrible waste. Throw your used books in a book donation drop or a little library. Heck, you could sell them!

Why go after the most expensive books?

Don't hit on the most attractive person in the room. This is a bad joke, I know, but the analogy holds up. Everyone wants the new book that has just come out, but like most other popular books it will be easy to get a copy when people are done reading it. In the mean time there is are several lifetimes worth of books available to you. There are a great number of classics that you can read to cover your bases, many of which are in the public domain.


Do you think using a modern e-reader or using a traditional paperback book is more minimalist? Does it depend on all the facts and circumstances? Is there an objectively correct answer here at all?