Resources: Free Books

One of my major addictions is to books. I’m a writer, after all, and a voracious reader. One of the things it will be hardest for me to give up is buying books because I do like to own them. Getting them from the library isn’t as satisfying.

I can’t fault my local library system for much. NYC has one of the best collections in the world between all of the boroughs. They sometimes don’t have the newest genre books and restrict some of the books I need for research to the non-circulating collections, which vexes me. And there’s still that thing about wanting to keep the books I like.

There are a few solutions for getting books for free or almost free. Mostly in the form of book/media-swapping groups. Here are a few I’ve found:

Zunafish – Sign up here to trade DVD’s, CD’s, paperbacks, video games and more. The only money that changes hands is the $1 fee you pay the site for each successful trade. It’s easy to post an item: you simply plug in identifying information–the site walks you through that–and the Web elves produce a full listing. The sole limitation–apart from those of your collection–is that you can only swap like items (CDs for CDs, books for books etc.). So choose a screen name, and start swapping.


PaperbackSwap – We are a group of real people who have formed a Club to swap paperback books with each other. No gimmicks. No spam. No advertising. No kidding. When another member requests one of your books, you mail it to them. Yes, you pay for the postage. But then another member returns the favor when you request a book from them and they mail it to you. And that way the books are always free because we are all trading books with club members!
(they also have a sister site, Swap-a-CD)


Bookcrossing – A website that tracks books you register and release “into the wild” or to other bookcrossing friends. You can search for books and request them from other users or join a Bookcrossing Meetup group to get books face-to-face.


If you’re not like me and don’t need to own the books you read, then the library is definitely the best resource. If your local system isn’t all that great or if you have a tendency to keep books far past their due date and rack up the fines, there is another solution.

Booksfree works just like Netflix. You add books and audiobooks you want to read to your list, they send you a certain number at a time and send the next when you’ve returned them. Also like Netflix, the shipping both ways is free. The service is not (unlike the library). Plans range from $8.49 to $39.99/month.

Another similar service: Bookswim

For me, PaperbackSwap may end up on my allowed list later. For now I will try and stick to the library.

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Filed under Cheap, Free, Resources

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