World Book Day: cheapest ways to read a book

Get into the spirit of World Book Day for less, as we look at the cheapest ways to read a book.

Today is World Book Day.

It's the 16th annual celebration of reading books and is being marked in over 100 countries across the globe.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
In the UK those under 18 will be encouraged to explore the joys of reading with a £1 book token which is distributed through every school in the country.

This year there are eight exclusive £1 books specially written for World Book Day that you can swap the token for, but you can also exchange the voucher in participating bookstores for any other title or audio book over £2.99.

World Book Day is a cheap way for young people to get into reading, but how else can we drive down the cost of such an enjoyable past time?

Buy second-hand
There are loads of places you can get second-hand books online like Alibris, Oxfam or Abe Books but Amazon Marketplace is probably the most well-known. Some paperbacks go for as little as a penny with only the delivery to pay.

Trawling car boot and jumble sales require a bit more dedication, but you can often find children's books and other gems for as little as 10p.

Charity shops are also a good source and some like Oxfam have stores just for second-hand books. People donate anything from the book here and there to full collections, so you get a good turnaround of titles and a wide range to choose from.

Swap at book exchanges
If you've exhausted your collection and are looking for something new to read, a community book exchange is a great way to do it for free and help the environment at the same time.

All you need to do is swap an old title for something else that takes your fancy.

You can do this informally with friends, co-workers, family and neighbours. But some old BT payphone boxes have been turned into official community book exchanges, while some pubs and other spaces allow you to do this as well.

Swapping can even be done on the internet, albeit with a delivery charge to fork out. Read it Swap it is an online book sharing community where you can swap books you don't want any more for some you do. It has over 340,000 books available from users and swaps are rated using feedback.

Borrow from a library
Your local library is the best place to enjoy books for free.

Libraries are free to join and as well as borrowing books you can borrow DVDs and music. Most also have newspapers and access to the internet.

You can now even adopt this principle online. Kindle users can get access to Amazon's lending library with Amazon Prime which cost £49 a year. This gives you access to one free e-Book a month from a range of 200,000 titles. Considering it usually costs around £7 to purchase an e-Book you could save £35 over the year.

Find free e-Books
If you're prepared to get over the initial cost of an e-Reader you can save money on reading by accessing free e-Books.

These usually come in the form of popular classics and older reads rather than new titles.

Kobo has over one million free e-Books, while the Kindle store and Google Books also have a range for you to choose from.

Elsewhere Project Gutenberg is also worth a look. It's a website that offers over 40,000 e-Books for free - made possible because the copyright has run out on them. You can download the copies onto your e-Reader or just use your laptop or PC to view them.

Other sites to search through include Open Library, Audible (you pay a small subscription for audio books) and Adobe Digital Editions.

Hunt cheaper editions and deals
You can save a lot of money by going for the paperback version of a book or choosing different editions. Wordsworth editions tend to be cheaper for example.

Also new books - especially paperbacks - often go straight into 'three for two' offers at bookshops like WHSmiths and Waterstones so make sure you take advantage if you have more than one book in mind.

Save money on shopping
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World Book Day: cheapest ways to read a book

This takes time, but once you know the cost of a phone call, putting the dryer on, or a bag of potatoes, it enables you to judge far better how much you can afford to consume.

Once you know the base price, you are in a position to keep your eyes open for a better offer. If you see a discount you can judge for yourself whether it actually constitutes a bargain. For bigger things like utilities it enables you to do a proper price comparison and see if you can cut your bills.

Don't just assume that the premium range is better, try the every-day brand, or even the basic version and see if you spot the difference. Likewise, consider trading down your supermarket from one of the big players to local markets or discounters like Aldi.

If you plan what you buy to match what you actually cook and eat then not only will you be able to budget far more effectively, but you'll also waste much less and find your money goes further without you having to try.

If you can't think of a way to get your meat for less, consider a vegetarian day once a week. If you can't find petrol any cheaper, then work on making your driving as efficient as possible. The more you can think of clever alternatives the less you will have to make painful cuts to make ends meet.

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