I know there’s been a lot of discussion lately about piracy and books and international readers having access to books, so I thought I’d compile some of my favorite resources to help you read books.
Pirating books is very harmful to authors and their careers–when people pirate books instead of buying them, it reduces the buzz around the books and can do things like prevent the author from getting contracts for sequels, etc. It’s obviously not a good thing to do, but I can definitely understand why people do it, unfortunately.
It’s true that it’s very hard for international readers to get access to books, and saying things like “Just go to the library!” is very ignorant as a lot of people don’t have access to libraries or libraries with English books they want to read in their countries. So I thought I’d compile some of the ways I read books or useful tools to reading books.
I tried my hardest to include a lot of international options, but I also included some more US based ones that I use a lot. By including US-based suggestions, I can hopefully encourage at the very least, all US-based readers to use the resources they have on hand instead of resorting to piracy and decrease its spread.
1. Libraries (US)
I know, I know. I literally just said “a lot of people don’t have access to libraries or libraries with English books.” But if you do live in a country where there is library access, please try to use the resources at your disposal rather than pirating a book.
Libraries, like my own, might be a little slow in ordering books. It might take them three months to get that book you’ve been dying to read, or they might never get a book you want to read on stock. A good thing to do is talk to a librarian about them possibly ordering a book you want to read.
By using your libraries, you’re not only showing your county how people actually use libraries, contrary to popular belief, but you’re giving specific data by checking out books and using them.
2. eBook Libraries (US)
This is still a very much US resource, but a lot of local libraries have Overdrive or Libby or some other connected eBook library which lets you check out books to read on your eReader or computer or phone. These sometimes have book options your library doesn’t physically have, and it’s a good way to get an opportunity to read books without spending money on gas to drive all the way to your library.
This is also a great way to get audiobooks if you have trouble with reading physical books. My library doesn’t have a lot of YA books in disc format, but they do have them on Overdrive, which lets me check out audiobooks without leaving the comfort of my home.
Once again, I emphasize. If you have access to these resources, please try to use them instead of pirating books. Pirating, bad. Libraries, good.
3. Bookstores (US)
This is the last of my US-only suggestions, I swear. When you’re at the end of your line, and you’ve been waiting for what feels like forever to read a book and none of your public resources have it, try this last suggestion which I use a lot.
Going to the bookstore.
I really wanted to read Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu–I had been dying to read it and my library (still) doesn’t have it. So what did I do? I went to my local Barnes and Noble, snatched the book off the shelf, found a seat, and stayed there for three hours until I finished the whole book.
The first time I did this, I thought someone was going to call me out for reading the book at a bookstore. But frankly, nobody cares. The bookstore workers (I’ve chatted with them multiple times) don’t mind at all. Not unless you meet Cranky O’ Grumpypants will you ever find a bookseller who tells you that you can’t read a book in store, and even then, just find a different seat and continue reading.
This is a great way to read those books you really want to read without paying a dime except for transport. Don’t want to pay for the book? Read it in store!
4. Buy the Book (INTL)
What’s the obvious way to get access to a book? By buying it, of course!
But frankly, books are very expensive. They’re not something I can ever really afford full price. I don’t remember the last time I’ve bought a book for more than $10. I do whatever I can to cheapen the costs of reading, especially with the high number of books I read.
I ask for them as gifts on holidays (for when a full priced book I want still hasn’t gone on sale). I buy them on sale with coupons, I buy them used, I monitor Amazon like a hawk, I do whatever I can to ensure every single book I purchase myself is less than $10.
Obviously, finding sales like these aren’t as easy when you’re an international reader. The best resource I can recommend is either Amazon if they ship to you, or Book Depository. You should be able to find new books at 15 USD or less from these resources, and sometimes you can find those days when Amazon has freak sales and puts hardcovers at 3-6 USD, or eBooks as .99-2.99 USD.
If you’re a US book buyer, Book Outlet is one of my favorite online stores to find cheap books that are publisher excess!
EBooks are obviously cheaper than their hardcover or paperback counterparts. It’s also really hard to buy eBooks internationally. I know someone in Dubai who had trouble buying an eBook on Amazon because of publisher restrictions. That’s not to mention the cost of getting a device that will let you read the book.
But if you can, try and buy the book, eBook or hardcover or paperback or audio. The authors and team behind them will greatly appreciate it, and it’ll give you a chance to feel good about supporting them.
5. Giveaways + Other Free Entries (INTL)
This is an obviously one in hundreds chance for you, but you’d be surprised at the number of times you can win a giveaway! I used to think these giveaways were held and nobody ever actually got picked, but it’s very much on the contrary. I think I’ve won 6 times in the past 4 months, so those are pretty good odds. Whether it’s for books, digital gift cards to buy books, ARCs, or more, giveaways are a great way to bring in some stuff!
But where do you find them?
There’s the usual Twitter & Instagram giveaways (RT/F ones on Twitter & others on Instagram i.e. Storygram Tours) that are hosted either by users, publishers, or publishers through users. These obviously have more US/CA giveaways available, but it’s a good idea to check out when the INTL one comes your way (Book Depository is a lifesaver) because these are good opportunities to possibly win a book!
There’s also reading challenges, so like Beat the Backlist @ NovelKnight, 2018 Debut Author Challenge @ ThatArtsyReaderGirl, Tackle TBR @WishfulEndings, House Cup Reading Challenge @ BooksyDaisy (and others), #TheReadingQuest (and other challenges) @ ReadatMidnight, and so many others! These a lot of the times are international and some of them you can win for sure by reading a ton of books, while others it’s by chance.
There’s author and publisher newsletters, which a lot of the times includes a great giveaway along with it. I know recently the HMH Teen newletter had a new release giveaway, a ton of authors did newsletter giveaways, and Fierce Reads had a Kami Garcia giveaway on their newsletter. It’s like a secret world of giveaways if you’re a newsletter receiver, and I’d totally recommend subscribing to them!
And lastly, Twitter chats a lot of the times have a giveaway at the end! For example, the Class of 2k18 Books, #18DebutChat, and #MTMC18 chats all had giveaways at the end. Some were US, some were INTL, and it’s always good to keep an eye out to enter.
There are a lot of giveaways out there and although you might be discouraged by the sheer number of US ones compared to INTL, I think it’s still great to keep an eye out and enter the INTL ones because you could be the one with a book on your doorstep next week.
6. Being a Blogger (INTL)
It’s good to firstly point out how it’s probably not a good idea to be a blogger because you want to get access to books. Just sayin’. Austine @ NovelKnight in her post Knowing Why You Blog Is Important talked a little on this, and she said it a lot more eloquently than I could. But being a blogger just to get books is not a great idea because you’ll probably end up drained and sad by the end and it’s not worth it.
Having passion is really important, but I know if you are so desperate to read, you probably have a great passion anyways to blog about stuff you love.
Just keep in mind that becoming a blogger solely for the books is probably not a great idea. But if you are a blogger, you have some perks as most bloggers, even the freshest ones, can usually find someone to approve their DRC request.
I know there’s been controversy recently about Netgalley not being as accessible to international bloggers, which is very sucky. But I don’t believe Edelweiss has these restrictions (please correct me if I’m wrong) and they have a pretty sizeable catalogue. This lets you have access to books for the mere price of a review! Promote the things you love and give feedback to publishers about the novels they’ll publish.
Requesting books can also be done through First to Read and other resources. Check out my post on digital review copies for more resources on requesting besides Netgalley and Edelweiss.
7. Lending Kindle Books (INTL)
Something a lot of people don’t know about is that you can lend certain Kindle books you own once to anyone who has access to the Kindle App (even available on the Windows phone store–gasp!) for 14 days. (More information on this program here.)
This is also applicable to Nook books too, although I haven’t used the Nook lending function in at least 6 years.
I think this is a great resource and can really help not only INTL or less privileged readers have more access to books, but it can also bring readers together if a mutual agreement is established.
It is wise to be aware that only certain books can be lended, but you can check if they can be lended by going to the “Product Details” portion of the book on Amazon and seeing if it says “Lending: Enabled.” (Example below from The Hunger Games.)
8. Reading Books from Publishers (INTL)
Publishers are pretty awesome sometimes. Besides the usual giveaways, they usually have a promotion branch that does most of its social media-ing.
For HarperCollins, it’s Epic Reads. For Simon & Schuster, it’s Riveted Lit. For Hachette/Little, Brown & Co., it’s The Novl. For Random House, it’s Get Underlined. For Macmillan, it’s Fierce Reads.
These all have awesome opportunities, my favorite of which is Riveted Lit because they always have the opportunity to read a published book for free (legally!). It’s pretty awesome, and they even had this 25 days during December in which there was a different book to read for free each day–all new releases! I had a blast reading those titles I was so excited for but didn’t have a chance to, and this is an INTL opportunity so long as you can open a web browser on any device.
(You also get a free eBook when you join their newsletter–I got Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls, hehe!)
I hope these suggestions prove helpful in your search for books to read and will discourage any potential pirates from sailing the Internet’s vices! Do you have any other suggestions on other ways to read books for free, specifically pertaining to international readers?