According to the CES, the average household spends $115 per year on reading materials. Why bother with a checklist for such a smalltime expense? Because reading remains one of the cheapest forms of entertainment ever. If you borrow a great book from the library, read it, and talk it over with friends, you’ve spent dozens of hours and enriched your life for a total cost of zero. Repeat this process 30 times per year and you’re left with precious few hours for malls and restaurants. No wonder so many fringers are avid readers.
12.1 Read Books for FREE
□ 12.1.1 Borrow Hard Copies
Visit friends or the library.
□ 12.1.2 Borrow E-Books
Visit your library’s website to see whether it lends over the internet. Borrow e-books at BookLending.com, which takes advantage of Kindle and Nook’s FREE two-week loan policies. Since titles are delivered by email, you avoid postage costs.
□ 12.1.3 Download E-Books
Books published before 1923 reside in the public domain and can be downloaded for FREE. Visit Gutenberg.org. A great site for Kindle formatted books is ManyBooks.net, which offers FREE titles that otherwise might cost $0.99 or more on Amazon. Search online for “best sites to download free [enter your e-book format here] books.”
□ 12.1.4 Consult Reliable Websites
Locate information for FREE online.
□ 12.1.5 Read Books That Travel
My library supports BookCrossing.com, in which you take home one of the program’s clearly-labeled paperbacks, read it, and then leave it in a coffee shop or other public space for someone else to enjoy. You can even enter the book’s i.d. number at the website and track its journey around the world.
□ 12.1.6 Swap and Trade
Trade with friends and try PaperBackSwap.com, which offers about five million paperbacks, hardbacks, and audio books. The site is easy to use: register and list at least ten books. In exchange, you receive two credits good for ordering books from other members. When someone orders a book from you, mail it via media mail—this costs as little as $2.41—and receive another credit. Nominal fees may apply. Similar sites: BookMooch.com and TitleTrader.com.
□ 12.1.8 Browse FREE Book Bins
Find them at thrift shops and used book shops.
□ 12.1.9 Seek Books as Gifts
Request bookstore gift cards as presents for holidays and birthdays.
12.2 Buy Used Books
□ 12.2.1 Buy Online
Popular online stores for used books include Amazon Marketplace, eBay.com, Alibris.com, AbeBooks.com, and Biblio.com. To find more stores, search the “best sites for used books” or for the author and title of any book you seek.
□ 12.2.2 Shop at Used Book Stores
Browse secondhand shops for cheap and fun entertainment.
□ 12.2.4 Flip
Resell, swap, or donate your books for a tax deduction.
12.3 Read Magazines for FREE
There are many ways to peruse magazines without committing the deplorable act of actually paying for them.
□ 12.3.1 Read at the Library
The periodicals department offers a wide variety of current issues.
□ 12.3.2 Read Online
More than 8,000 magazines host websites. Look online for your favorites and see how much content they post. If liberality prevails, cancel your subscription and read for FREE. (Don’t worry that you might sink magazines with this tactic. Most of their revenue comes from advertising, and you see plenty of that on the websites.)
□ 12.3.3 Visit Google Books
Books.Google.com offers a large database of magazines, including the full run of Life. Search for your favorite places, movie stars, or sports teams. Browse old advertisements. Other archived titles include New York Magazine, Men’s Health, and Kiplinger’s.
□ 12.3.4 Borrow
Libraries often lend older issues for at-home reading. So do friends.
□ 12.3.5 Browse Recycle Bins
Find recent issues at your neighborhood recycling center.
□ 12.3.6 Sign Up for FREE Copies
Some publishers offer trial subscriptions at no cost.
□ 12.3.7 Convert Miles to Magazines
If you’re down to a precious few frequent flyer miles, redeem them for subscriptions before they expire. Visit MagsForMiles.com.
□ 12.3.8 Seek Subscriptions as Gifts
If hints are palatable among your gift givers, suggest your favorite magazines.
12.4 Read Magazines for Less
□ 12.4.1 Cancel Unread Subscriptions
If you don’t read them, cancel now and pocket the partial refund.
□ 12.4.2 Buy Used
Acquire recent copies at thrift shops and garage sales.
□ 12.4.3 Share Subscriptions
You agree to get The Economist. She agrees to get The New Yorker. Every other week, you meet to discuss issues and trade them.
□ 12.4.5 Look for Coupons and Discount Codes
A sample internet search: “coupons or discount codes People.”
□ 12.4.6 Subscribe to the Internet or E-Book Version
Digital content sells for less because there’s no paper or postage.
□ 12.4.7 Buy Multi-Year Subscriptions
For established publications only; start-ups can become belly-ups.
□ 12.4.8 Stay a New Subscriber Forever
Instead of renewing, let subscriptions lapse and re-subscribe later at low introductory rates. If you miss any issues, catch up at the library.
□ 12.4.9 Never Buy Single Copies
Always carry reading material. If you’re at the airport, look for abandoned copies on seats and in recycle bins.
□ 12.4.10 Seek Group Rates
Take advantage of lower rates for students, seniors, and other groups.
□ 12.4.11 Buy the DVDs
Many publishers sell their entire stock of back issues on searchable DVDs, including National Geographic, Mad Magazine, The New Yorker, and Rolling Stone. Buy the DVDs used on eBay and get a lifetime of content for pennies an issue.