5 Free or Frugal Ways to Make the Most of Your eReader!

5 Free or Frugal Ways to Make the Most of Your E-Reader
Image adapted from Flickr/ Ant McNeill

According to the Pew Research Center, in January 2014, 50% of Americans over the age of 16 have either a tablet or an eReader, which literally puts the world of books right at their fingertips. One of the best parts of having access to an eBook is the instant gratification factor: you hear about a good book, and, PRESTO! you can be downloading and reading that book less than a minute later! And while eBooks are quite often less expensive than their paper-printed counterparts, a person with a serious reading habit can easily spend hundreds of dollars a year on eBooks.

As a mom who loves reading on her iPad and shares a Kindle account with her kids, I have learned a few tricks on how to indulge my family's reading habit without breaking the bank!

Image via Flickr/ goXunuReviews

Tip #1: Borrow eBooks from Your Local Library for Free

You can borrow books from your local library without setting foot in the door and download them to your tablet or e-reader for a specific borrowing time period (just as if you were borrowing a regular library book). My local public library has partnered with OverDrive to deliver access to more than 2 million book titles! It is easy to search for a book; you can search by title, author, or genre. You can also browse lists of books based on interests. When you find the one you want, you can then borrow that book from the online library. Of course, just as with a paper book, sometimes the book you want to read is already checked out, in which case you can place a hold on that book and wait for your turn to borrow it. 

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To get started, look up the website of your local library to see if they participate in OverDrive or another eBook program. Then you simply enter the information from your library card to create an online account, and you can start browsing and borrowing. Depending on the publisher, books can be downloaded in multiple formats for the Kindle, Adobe E-Pub (used by Nooks and other eReaders), and Audiobook. You are able to set the borrowing time period in your preference settings (7 days or 14), and at the end of the time period, the book simply disappears from your eReader. You don't even have to remember to return it! (Bonus!)


Image via Flickr/ TheCreativePenn

Tip #2: Share One Kindle or Nook Account Within Your Family

If you are willing to use just one Amazon or Barnes & Noble account for your whole family, you can share all of your purchased and borrowed eBooks with multiple devices that have shared that account. All eight of us in my family share one Amazon account, and so any book we have purchased can be read on any family member's eReader, tablet, or phone, as long as they have downloaded the Kindle reading app.

This makes it perfect for our mother-son book club assignments. I purchase or borrow one copy of the book and then several of us can read it at the same time! Quick Tip: Don't sync to the “furthest page read” when opening the book on your e-reader–just allow the reader to open the book as usual, and it will open to the last page you read.

Keep in mind that sharing one Amazon account has other drawbacks, such as granting your kids that same 1-Click Access to purchasing and not being able to place any “grown-up” books you have purchased in a separate reading area that they can't access. (Um, kids … 50 Shades of Grey is not a book about colors!)

Image via Flickr/ jblyberg

Tip #3: Subscribe to a Monthly Book Club

Just as Netflix revolutionized the video-rental business with its monthly subscription service, several book lenders are now offering the same sort of service–read an unlimited number of eBooks each month for one monthly fee. Amazon recently announced its new service Kindle Unlimited, which offers 600,000 titles for $9.99 a month. Other providers include Oyster Books, which offers about 500,000 for $9.95 per month, and Scribd, which offers about 400,000 books for $8.99 per month.

Naysayers point out that many of the largest book publishers have not agreed to allow their titles to be part of this all-you-can-read format yet. I say that, in time, this service will evolve to include more books, and that the monthly price will come down to drive out the competition. In the meantime, I plan to stick with the free library eBooks!


Image via Flickr/ goXunuReviews

Tip #4: Borrow Kindle or Nook Books

Both Amazon and Barnes & Noble allow you to “lend” a book that you've purchased to a friend's eReader for a specific period of time. It is based on the concept that if you were to have purchased the book in paper form, you would be able to pass it along to a friend to read.

However, lending eBooks is a bit more restrictive, and many publishers don't allow their downloadable books to be shared in this manner. Also, know that if you “borrow” a book from a friend, you have 14 days to read it (during which time the book is removed from your friend's reading library). If you do not finish the book in the 14-day time period, she cannot lend it to you again.

If you are a member of Amazon Prime, you can borrow books from the Kindle Lending Library, again for a one-time 14-day time period. However, you are limited to borrowing just one book per month in this manner.

Image via BookBub

Tip #5: Use BookBub for Discounted eBooks

Publishers will promote specific book titles from time to time as a way to drive sales or perhaps to introduce more readers to an author who is getting ready to publish another book. BookBub is a service that gathers together these eBook promotions and sends you a daily email with eBook deals based on your personal interests. Signing up for BookBub is free, and the books promoted are offered at a significant discount, and, sometimes, they are even free!

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5 Free or Frugal Ways to Make the Most of Your eReader!

My name is Sharon and I am the busy Mom of six children ages 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, and 8. People often ask me "How do you do it?" I tell them that my key to success lies in planning ahead, with a whole lot of creativity and organization thrown in! ... More

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