Personal Finance

Save big bucks on books, as prices keep rising

Buying books is becoming an expensive hobby for many readers, but experts provide tips on how to save.

Save big bucks on books, as prices keep rising
Scripps News Cincinnati
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Falling into a good book this time of year can really take you away from the winter blahs. With the turn of a page, you can experience new adventures and visit new places.

But the cost of books — even digital ones — can really add up these days. Remember when you could get most e-books for $9 or less, sometimes just $2 or $3? Not anymore.

The digital version of Walter Isaacson's recent Elon Musk bio, at $16.99, is almost as much as the hardcover.

It's even worse for libraries. Library directors like Paula Brehm-Heeger of the Cincinnati-Hamilton County Public Library have to purchase even more expensive copies.

"We license it for 24 months," she said. "Then we have to repurchase it if we want those copies again."

As a result, she says, having unlimited e-books for members is almost impossible.

"It would be about $2 million additionally a year, just at this rate," she said.

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Books enjoy big resurgence since COVID

According to Statista, the publishing industry earned a net revenue of $28.1 billion between 2008 and 2022.

Book lovers aren’t surprised by that number. During the pandemic, Hannah Stansel built a community of readers online with "Finding Joy at Home," and now has thousands of followers on Instagram.

"I think 2020 really brought a lot of people back to books," she said.

Buying books is a passion for many people, but it can get expensive fast.

Ways to save money

So what can you do?

"For physical books, my No. 1 recommendation is always gonna be the library," Stansel said.

If you prefer audio or e-books to physical copies, she says, "there's a really exciting app called Libby.  It's totally free. It will send straight to your Kindle or your e-reader."

You can also add the Library Extension to your internet browser.

To save on digital reading, Stansel says Kindle Unlimited is an affordable subscription, especially for fast readers.

"I pay $13 a month, and I can get unlimited books right here on my Kindle," she said.

And don’t forget used options, like the Pango Books app, local thrift stores and used book stores.

"People will offload crazy popular books at Goodwill," Stansel said.