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Books and Bookish Apps

For the last blog post in our “Where Do You Find Books When Schools and Libraries Are Closed?” blog series, we wanted to share a few more sites where you can find free or cheap books. We will still be explaining how to access apps for the websites and platforms that we have already mentioned in our blog series. That information can be found below the “More Websites for Books” list. For some of the websites listed, it does cost money to access the books. We have provided the price of any associated costs that are needed to access the content. As always, this is not an exhaustive list. Let us know about any other websites or platforms (not mentioned previously) where you can find free or cheap books. We’ll be happy to add the website or platform to our list!

More Platforms for Books:
1. Tor (content is more appropriate for adult readers)
– Tor offers a free eBook of the Month Club to their newsletter subscribers. This month’s selection is Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton. You have until 11:59 pm EST on May 22, 2020 to download the free ebook (available in ePub or mobi format). Click here to learn more about this month’s pick. To redeem this offer, all you need to do is either subscribe to their newsletter (if it’s your first time) or input your email to confirm your subscription to their newsletter (if you are an existing newsletter subscriber). Please be mindful that some of the books that are offered are not appropriate for middle grade or teen readers.
– Occasionally, Tor will offer additional ebooks for free to promote upcoming releases. For May 4th, Tor recently allowed its newsletter subscribers to redeem the first book in Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archives series, The Way of Kings, for free. This was to promote the November release of Rhythm of War, the fourth book in the Stormlight Archives series.
– Tor also allows you to read original fiction (i.e. comics, poetry, book excerpts, short stories, and reprints of already published content) on their website. Some of the authors whose work is published on Tor’s website include: Charlie Jane Anders, Neil Gaiman, Ken Liu, Marissa Marr, Seanan McGuire, and Garth Nix. Click here to subscribe to Tor’s Short Fiction newsletter. Currently, you can download a story bundle of the short fiction that was published in March/April. Click here (available in ePub, mobi, and PDF format) to download the story bundle. Like the free selection for eBook of the Month Club, not all the content on Tor’s website will be appropriate for middle grade or teen readers.
2. Serial Box (content is more appropriate for adult readers)
– Serial Box offers “episodes” of novels in the form of seasons. You have the option to either read or listen to each episode.
– In order to allow you to preview a novel, the first episode is always free. After that, you can either pay per episode (between $0.99 and $1.99) or buy a season pass (between $5.99 and $19.99). You can always read a free sample of any future episode. Click here to learn more about Serial Box.
– Besides the first episode, some of their content is free as well. Currently, you can read all of the Arthur C. Clarke Shorts and Serial’s Original Shorts for free. All episodes of Embodied, Exquisite Corpse, and The Woman in White are also free. As with Tor’s content, please be mindful that Serial Box does include content that is not appropriate for middle grade or teen readers.
– Each Thursday, between 9pm and 12am EST, Serial Box does offer a free season of episodes to 500 of their newsletter subscribers. Danielle has been able to redeem the free season of episodes for each of the weeks so far.
3. NetGalley/Edelweiss (includes content for all ages)
– Both sites allow users to request advance reader copies, also known as ARCs. For any ARCs that you receive, you are ask to read the book and provide an honest review.
– NetGalley lets you request ARCS by telling them whether you like the cover, the author, the description, or keep hearing about the novel (you can click as many options as applicable).
– Edelweiss’s request process is a little bit different. For Edelweiss, you have to write an explanation about why you would like an ARC of the novel.
4. BookishFirst (includes content more appropriate for young adult and adult readers)
– BookishFirst allows you to read an excerpt (usually the first chapter) of an upcoming novel and give a first impression. The first impression enters you into a raffle to receive a free copy of that particular book.
– You also earn points for every time that you complete a first impression or a review for one of the other books on the site. There are only a limited number of books on the site, so you’ll have to browse to see which ones interest you. These points, once enough are collected, can be redeemed for a novel off their site.

Cheap Books:
1. Book Outlet
– Book Outlet has thousands of bargain books for under $10. If you spend $35 or more, you’ll get free shipping in the US (other countries will want to investigate if it’s the same for them; we live in the US). Be careful when buying books as they do have scratch and dent copies listed as well. The bargain books may have remainder marks; the scratch and dent copies might be more beat up.
– All purchases made with Book Outlet earn points, which can be redeemed for rewards ($5 off, $10 off, etc). This is a good way to stock up on physical books.
2. Green Valley Book Fair
– Green Valley Book Fair, located in Harrisonburg, VA, sells overstock books. These books will have remainder marks, but can otherwise be considered new copies. A fair amount of their books are $5.99 or less. Their books range from board books and early chapter books to young adult books and cooking books. You name it, they probably have it.
– Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are only accepting online or phone orders at this time. You can check out their website (linked above), Facebook page, or Instagram for what they currently have in stock. They are offering curbside pickup (for locals) or media mail shipping (for those who are not local).

Bookish Apps:
You might have read all of our posts about where to find books and wondered, “Which of these platforms have apps that can be utilized on my devices?” The simple answer is that most of the platforms that we have shared on this blog also have a corresponding app that can be downloaded. Any website that is not mentioned below will most likely have to be streamed through a web browser. Some of the websites can also be streamed through a web browser on your phone or tablet.

  1. Kindle
    – Kindle has access to: Overdrive, Nook, Hoopla, and Scribd
    – In order to download these apps, you have will to change your settings to “allow third-party apps.”
    – None of the apps mentioned above can be access on the original Kindle, Kindle Paperwhite, or Kindle Oasis. You’ll have to use an Android or Apple device to access them.
  2. Apple
    – Apple has apps for Kindle, Audible, Nook, Overdrive, Libby, Sora, RBDigital,, Scribd, Glose, Epic!, Vooks, Skybrary, and Serial Box
  3. Android (this includes Nook devices and any other devices that use Google Play as their App Store)
    – Android has apps for Kindle, Audible, Nook, Overdrive, Libby, Sora, RBDigital,, Scribd, Glose, and Serial Box

*The following platforms can be accessed through a web browser on any device: Project Gutenberg, Open Library, International Children’s Public Library, Brightly, Storyline Online, Story Time from Space, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, Funbrain/Funbrain Jr., Animal Infobooks from SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, Epic Reads, Riveted, and Swoon Reads

Throughout the next month, we will be sharing some reading resources to keep students learning from home. In the meantime, you can check out our Google Doc of “Online Reading Resources.” The list is not exhaustive, but it does contain several links to where authors, illustrators, and/or publishing companies are providing online reading resources for children and young adults. Let us know if there is anything specific you’d like us to focus on!

Bookish Lovers
(Danielle and Rachael)

Published by Always, Bookish Lovers

We’re a sister duo and a best friend from Virginia, USA who absolutely love books! We all met while Danielle and Skyler were in college. Danielle and Skyler are teachers and Rachael is aspiring to be a librarian. As well as having a bookstagram, we co-run a blog together where we review books, post unboxings of other subscription boxes, and offer reading resources for parents and educators.

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