From the library to online, you can always read for free
When it comes to books, magazines, here’s how to stretch your budget.

By LESLEY MITCHELL

The Salt Lake Tribune

Published: January 7, 2012 04:05PM
Updated: January 25, 2012 11:24AM
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Tribune file photo The judge at a New York civil anti-trust trial has found that Apple Inc. conspired with publishers to raise electronic book prices.

If you love to read, you already know that the cost of buying books and magazines can add up fast.

But in print and online there are a host of ways to enjoy publications of all kinds, including best-sellers, at no cost.

One of the best resources may surprise you, because it’s your local library. Many people don’t realize that most libraries have newer releases, and that if your branch doesn’t have the book you want, it often can get it within a day or two from another branch in the same library system. The same goes for movies.

And for those with e-reader devices, most Utah libraries have you covered there, too. If you prefer to read books electronically, ask a librarian which e-books are available and how to check them out. Most can be downloaded and “borrowed” for two weeks.

The number of e-books available from libraries has grown rapidly because of demand from patrons. The Salt Lake Public Library System, for example, has more than 6,000 e-books and e-audiobooks for Kindle users alone.

Here are some other ways to enjoy free books:

Free books from Amazon.com • Go to bit.ly/Amhnh8 for a list of the most popular free Kindle books offered on Amazon.com that can be downloaded to your device in minutes. Check the link frequently because the selection of free books changes regularly.

You don’t need a Kindle to download and read free e-books in Kindle format. Go to amzn.to/4nck80 for information about how to get them on your computer or other electronic device.

This is the best time of the year to get books about personal finance, health and diet information, and how-to-get-organized advice that are being offered free only for a limited period of time. If you’re interested in retirement planning, for example, Amazon.com is offering for a limited time a free e-book, “Saving for Retirement Without Living Like a Pauper or Winning the Lottery.” Go to bit.ly/Amhnh8 to get this title. I’ve read this one — it’s an informative book that covers all the basics.

Read for free at Ebookfling.com • This site allows you to borrow or swap e-books for 14 days. Many are current and best-selling titles. You can also pay to borrow an e-book from the site if you don’t have one to swap, or you can pay with credits earned by allowing others to borrow your e-books.

Get the classics at no cost • Go to Project Gutenberg, at Gutenberg.org, for books in which the copyright has expired. You can download these books and keep them on your reading device or computer as long as you wish. You also can find many other classic books on this site. This is a great resource for schoolchildren and teens who have been assigned to read a classic but have discovered their classmates beat them to the library.

Free audiobooks • Go to Booksshouldbefree.com for a host of audiobooks. Books are read by volunteers, not professionals, but most of the titles I’ve sampled are quite good.

If you have children, you may be interested in the family-oriented audio books, which are great for fostering a love of books.

Free books from publishers • Programs such as Read it Forward distribute thousands of paperback books to readers in hopes that they will like them and spread the word. Go to Read-it-forward.crownpublishing.com.

More free reading materials • If you enjoy reading magazines, check out RewardsGold.com and Mercurymagazines.com. If you are willing to fill out questionnaires and surveys from time to time, you may be able to get a host of free magazine subscriptions. Once you sign up with these sites, you’ll get periodic emails with offers of varying lengths. I tried them over the past year, and they deliver with deals such as The Wall Street Journal for 26 weeks and Family Fun and Woman’s Day magazines for one year.

As a bonus, many of these publications contain coupons and other money-savings offers.

Lesley Mitchell writes One Cheap Chick in daily blog form at blogs.sltrib.com/cheap.

lesley@sltrib.com Twitter: @cheapchick Facebook: Facebook.com/OneCheapChick