Valentine’s Day seems like a good time to talk about love. I’d assume most (if not all) of you reading this love books, and love the authors who write your favorite books.
I tweeted earlier today about getting books in legitimate ways vs. illegally. I’d imagine you all recognize that buying a book supports the author in a way getting it for free doesn’t: some of that money goes directly to the author, so they can afford to write rather than doing other work, and every purchase shows the publisher that readers are enjoying these books, which means they’re more likely to publish more books from that author. But I also know that the vast majority of us can’t afford to buy every book that catches our interest. I certainly can’t!
I’m not going to lecture you on what you should or shouldn’t do. You have probably heard all the arguments against reading illegal copies already, and you’ll make up your own mind. But for those who’d like to support authors and show their love of books even when they don’t have much money on hand, I’d like to offer some suggestions.
Getting books for less
-Watch for sales. Many bookstores, online and off, offer remaindered books for a fraction of their original cost. Ebooks are constantly going on sale — I’ve picked up several in the last month simply because the price had dropped on titles I’d been curious about.
-Buy used. Check websites like AbeBooks or local used book shops in town.
-If you can’t wait for a book to turn up on sale or used, share. Have reader friends? Get together with them and pool your resources. A $10 book only costs $2 each if five of you buy it and then pass it around.
-Trade online. I’ve seen bloggers offering to trade books they’ve reviewed. Or you can go the more organized route and join a service like BookMooch (which I myself have used a lot). All you have to pay is the postage for your end of the trade.
Getting books for free — legally
-Libraries. Checking a book out from the library shows them that readers are interested, which makes them more likely to pick up later books from the same author. If your local library doesn’t already have the book you want, you can usually submit a request that they add it to their collection in person or on the library’s website.
-Contests and giveaways. Follow authors you like on their blogs, Twitter, and/or Facebook. Most authors hold giveaways of their books fairly frequently. You’re not guaranteed to win, but the more you enter, the better your chances! Also keep an eye on book reviewer blogs and publisher websites for additional giveaways and contests.
-In-person swaps. Get together with all your reader friends in the area, and have everyone bring all the books they’re willing to part with. Everyone takes a turn picking one they want out of the pile.
(Do all of these methods mean the author is getting “paid” directly? No. But they do mean a copy of the book had to be bought at some point, and that still supports the author.)
Other free ways to show your support (regardless of how you got the books)
-Talk about books you’ve read and enjoyed. Tell your friends and family about them. Tweet or post on Facebook about them. Write reviews and share them online — on your personal blog, on book community sites like GoodReads, and/or on store sites. Maybe you can even publish a review in the local or school newspaper. It’s all good!
-Follow authors you enjoy and share their news — by telling people in person, retweeting, FB sharing, reblogging — again, it’s all good!
-If you’re in the bookstore and see someone browsing, point out one or two of your faves on the shelves as a friendly suggestion. And it never hurts to let store employees know which books you’ve really loved.
-If you see a book you like on the library shelf, check it out and then drop it in the returns bin on your way out. Every check-out shows the book’s popularity, and means the library is more likely to keep that book around.
-Write to the author and tell them how much you enjoyed their book. I suspect even bestselling authors have moments of doubt and worries about how their writing is being received. And nothing makes an authors’ day like hearing from someone who read and loved one of our books!
Have other ideas for spreading the book love? Share them in the comments!