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Borrow Kindle e-books from the public library for free

by Karen on October 13, 2011

First things first, thank you so much for all the kind wishes for my birthday! I meant to post a thank you yesterday, but our power was out most of the day. I wasn’t about to type a blog post letter by letter on my phone’s screen. Anyway, those of you who left well wishes and kind words really helped make a wonderful day even better. Life as a stay-at-home mom can get a little lonely during the day, and I can’t tell you how much it means to me to have a support network in you, so I won’t even try. Just know I appreciate it so much.

Now before I write this post, I have to get something out of the way. I received no compensation whatsoever for this post. I’m just a Kindle enthusiast, and I want to share with you how much I’ve enjoyed it.

When we purchased our Kindle earlier this year, it was for my husband. He had a fancy new job, and we had some room in our budget for something like that for the first time in a while, so we splurged a little. He wasn’t planning to spend money on e-books. He’s an English professor, and he teaches and reads a lot of classics, which are often available for free once the copyright expires on them. He uses the Kindle mostly to read free books, and he occasionally buys a book if it goes on super sale.

I wasn’t really sold on the e-book thing at first. I really enjoy the feel of a book in my hands and the smell of the paper and blah blah blah I’m a nerd. Besides, I couldn’t stand the thought of paying $5-$10 for an e-book if I could easily borrow it from the library for free.

But about a month ago, there was a series of books that I really wanted to read, and the waiting list at the library was a mile long. All three e-books were available on Amazon for under $5, and I had some SwagBucks gift cards, so I figured I’d give the Kindle a try. I loved it. It was easier to read in bed without contorting myself into strange configurations or flipping back and forth from side to side so I could see the book without holding it up too high (bed readers, you know what I’m talking about).

I was officially converted,  but I still couldn’t bear to pay the high prices for Kindle books when my public library will let me borrow them for free. Less than a week after I finished that series of books, though, I found out that Kindle books are now available through public libraries throughout the country. We have an awesome library system in our area that gives us access to libraries in three different counties through a reciprocal borrowing agreement. They all have different collections of e-books, and while the selection is nowhere near as good as the paper book collection, I’ve already found quite a few books I’m interested in reading, and they’re adding new titles all the time.

With the drop in prices for the new Kindles (which my husband predicted, and now he’s mad that we bought ours months ago for $40 more. Pfft.), now really is a great time to invest in the device if your library offers e-book borrowing. The introductory-level model is only $79*.

So why Kindle? You can read Kindle books on your computer or smartphone without paying for the device. There are also several other e-readers on the market that have been participating in this library-loan program for a while now (the Nook and the Sony e-reader are two popular alternatives). For me, the e-ink screen really makes all the difference. I struggle with insomnia, and research shows that looking at a backlit screen before bed can interfere with sleeping patterns. I definitely notice a difference in the quality of my sleep when I put away my computer and phone and read a book at bedtime instead. The Kindle mimics a real book and has no backlighting on the screen, which means it won’t interfere with sleep.

Aside from the public library, there are a few places I go to look for cheap or free e-books.

Project Gutenberg offers free downloads of classic books for a variety of e-reader formats.

Open Library offers free classic books, too.

The Amazon store has a separate section for free books. They also offer a daily deal on one title every day at a significant discount.

Pixel of Ink publishes a daily newsletter with free or discount e-books.

You can loan Kindle books to friends simply by sending a book to their email address, and it’s automatically returned to you after 14 days — which is nice if you have deadbeat friends who don’t return borrowed books in a timely manner. (Let me know if you wanna swap! I don’t have many e-books to share, but I have a few I’ve bought with SwagBucks gift cards.)

You can also sign up for ebookfling to share books with strangers, but I’ll be honest and tell you I’m not really sure how that works. I don’t think it’s free, but it’s certainly cheaper than buying new books.

As I’ve mentioned, it’s relatively easy to rack up $5 Amazon gift cards with SwagBucks, and that can be a great way to keep yourself stocked with e-books without affecting your budget.

And, of course, don’t forget to check your public library to see if you can borrow Kindle or other e-books from them.

Do you have an e-reader? Where do you find cheap or free e-books?

Asterisks (*) denote referral links. While no one asked me to write this post or compensated me in any way, I earn a small amount of money for Amazon purchases made through my referral link, and I earn extra SwagBucks when people sign up using my referral link. The more you know!

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