I have a major reading problem. My daily reading typically includes two different newspapers front to back, multiple finance blogs that I follow, and a few pages of a book or two as well. Reading can be an expensive hobby, but I plan to outline why I don’t buy books anymore and how you, too, can read for free.
I didn’t always love reading. Growing up, I was never a bookworm. The only time I almost enjoyed reading as a kid was in the summers when my local library would hold summer reading programs with rewards.
Now that I’m older, I try to find time to read a couple of pages of a book everyday. In previous years, I would usually buy a book or two each month from Amazon or Barnes and Noble. That ended up costing a few hundred dollars pretty quickly, and many times, I would never reread the book. So over the years, I accumulated too many books that now sit on my bookshelf collecting dust.
When the Kindle first came out, I never thought I’d own one. I liked being able to physically hold and flip the pages of a book. I also didn’t think I could adjust to reading on a screen for long before my eyes started to hurt. I had no desire to purchase a Kindle, but, a friend of mine loved his and decided to gift one as a present to me. I didn’t use it much initially. It wasn’t until I needed to pack lightly for a cruise vacation when my Kindle served as the perfect solution.
I downloaded a couple of books from Amazon that were on sale and thought, what the heck, it’s only a couple of dollars. That trip changed the way I viewed reading. I loved the clarity of the screen and the font on the “pages.” I became hooked, and I loved that I didn’t have to worry about the a bookmark or keeping track on my reading progress. On top of that, I no longer had to wait for shipping or to browse through a store for a book. Instantly, obtaining a book through Whispercast changed the way I consumed books.
Many of my friends, who were still hooked on physical books, would give me a weird look when I told them how amazing the Amazon Kindle was, until finally, I started to let them borrow it. Almost all of them bought themselves a Kindle afterwards, and I feel like I should receive a commission for all the Kindles that I helped sell. Amazon, if you’re reading this, I’m happy to send you my Paypal account information to send over my commission checks.
Shortly before I got married, I started to tighten up my belt and be a little more frugal when it came to purchasing books. My now wife use to comment that I had accumulated so many ebooks and would read them only once. She was right. At least when I had a physical book, I could lend it to a friend, but it was a bit more difficult to lend out my Kindle when I was using it so often. I also may have also been slightly embarrassed for people to see some of the books that I had been reading on my Kindle… I’m referring to you, Hunger Games.
A year or so into my marriage, my wife asked me why I didn’t borrow books from the library. I indicated that most of the time new books were unavailable and that I didn’t want to wait. Plus, I loved the portability and convenience of my Kindle. She then told me that our local library had tons of ebooks on an online catalogue. I thought the Kindle was a game-changer, but when I found out that I could rent ebooks for free from the library, that was the cherry on top.
Before when I would purchase a book, even if it was bad, I would finish it because I paid for it. Now that I don’t spend as much money on books, I can borrow a diverse array of books and not feel regret if I don’t finish one that doesn’t suit me. I am able to be more adventurous with the books that I read, and that has resulted in my horizons being expanded.
The county library that I live in allows me the opportunity to check out up to ten books at a time. Here’s the other crazy part– I can put up to ten books on hold at any time. What is even more interesting is in the DC Metro area, the library system has a reciprocity jurisdiction that allows individuals to get library cards from other counties. Now you may wonder why I would need multiple library cards. From what I have seen, a specific ebook in one county may be super popular, while in another county, the ebook is not popular at all. Therefore, if there is a specific book that you want, you have a greater chance of obtaining it, instead of waiting on the hold queue.
Finally, one day I was looking to see if there were any interesting extensions for the Google Chrome browser, when I stumbled across this Library Extension. This extension is amazing. Previously, I would have to search my library’s website to see if an ebook or library was available to borrow. This was usually cumbersome as I would read the reviews on Amazon and then open a new tab to see if the book was available. With this extension, I can instantly find out if the library had a physical copy of the book, an eBook available for download, and even audio books. In addition, the extension can tell me whether or not the book is available and how many copies of the book the library has in total.
Looking back, I feel like I spent way too much money on books that currently collect dust or have been given away. Now that I utilize the library and its resources, I can read even more and not pay a penny. I hope this article enlightens some of you bookworms to explore available options through your public library.