Art by Andreas Rocha.
Below is a list of nine methods that have saved me money reading.
The regions for each suggestion, are listed next to the titles.
The passages beginning with ‘MV’, are my thoughts, preferences and workflows.
Amazon Kindle Daily & Monthly Deals (Worldwide)
Amazon’s monthly and daily deal offerings are the most popular means of acquiring Kindle books on sale.
Amazon offers over 100 books for 99p each month. The books circulate every 30 days and are only available for the given monthly window.
Many of the monthly deals filter into the daily section for the month, but many do not. Most of the daily offers are not included in the monthly categories, making it crucial to check both on a routine schedule.
MV: I recommend saving the daily and monthly deal pages into your bookmarks for quick access. Receiving email notifications is possible, but I have found them to be temperamental.
eReader IQ (United States, United Kingdom and Canada)
I have saved ample amounts across the years by using eReader IQ. My only regret is that I didn’t discover it sooner.
I did not realise for a long time that the books Amazon displays as part of their monthly and daily deals are only a small percentage of the actual quantity. Amazon has contracts with individual publishers and showcases this small selection rather than the full story. eReader IQ allows you to view the entire landscape of reductions.
The website is free to use and has two fundamental features.
The first is tracking authors and individual books to receive a notification upon a price change. There are thousands of price drops on Kindle books daily, despite the 4–6 Amazon exhibits.
To start, you’ll need to enter your email address to create an account. Yes, only your email, not a password. It’s a strange system I admit, but I’ve had no issues. You can then search for an author by typing their name in the search bar at the top of the page. Upon the page loading, select the author’s name under any of their titles. You’ll then see an option to follow them. You can browse their work and track individual books if you’re after a specific title. When tracking a book, you can customise the type of notification you’d like to receive. Would you like one when the book reaches 99p, or for any price reduction? Spend some time customising these to your preferences. By default, you’ll receive an email for each notification and one in the website’s updates tab. I have both set up, in case I forget to check online.
The second element of the website is a price history graph. eReader IQ tracks the prices of books since their publication or the service’s launch date. This is useful to determine how frequently a book is on sale. Often I have many of my ‘want to reads’ on sale, but my ‘to-read’ inventory is immense. I’ll check to see how regularly a title is on sale to determine whether I should buy immediately. My rule of thumb is to buy any book I desire at 99p, as it’s the lowest price possible. But, if something is more, I’ll check how often it’s at that price or less before deciding. For example, I noticed when Sapiens was on sale for £3, the price was at its lowest, so I clicked the butter-coloured buy now button.
You can also browse different genres if you wish, to see what’s on sale. While you will find some books for 99p, on sale means a reduction in the price, so prepare yourself for varying rates.
MV: If you come away with a single tip from this article, please ensure it’s setting up eReader IQ. I use the service daily as part of my morning routine and am yet to find a single issue.
BookBub, Book Rune, Kind of Book, Pillow Talk of Books (Worldwide)
These websites, in theory, work across all regions but base their information on Amazon US. At times this aligns with other areas but often does not. Each service allows you to select your favourite genre to receive the related offers in a daily email. You can find many free fiction books, making it a perfect choice for those penny pinchers.
MV: I have stopped using these websites but found BookBub to be the best of the bunch. Whether you should sign up will depend on how you select your titles. There would be no harm trialling the services in deciding if they’re for you.
Following Authors on Twitter, Signing up to Their Newsletter and Following Them on Goodreads (Worldwide)
If you use Twitter and Facebook, follow your favourite authors. If you don’t, search their name on Google to find their website. Almost all will have an email newsletter. These newsletters will provide periodic updates about the author’s titles, plus any upcoming sales.
Goodreads is the social media for books and can track what you and your friends are reading. Most authors use the service, and many will post reviews for other publications. I see Patrick Rothfuss leaving many reviews, as well as John Gwynne and even Bill Gates. Authors such as Brandon Sanderson, Sabaa Tahir and Mark Lawerance are incredible across social media. John Gwynne is the most active author I’ve ever seen. If you don’t know any of those names, don’t be alarmed, they’re all Fantasy authors. I can only speak of the authors I follow and want to receive updates from. Stephen King, J.K. Rowling and Neil Gaiman all have accounts too (I, of course, follow these too).
MV: Amazon owns Goodreads; thus, the service integrates seamlessly with Kindle devices and apps. I use Goodreads for keeping track of all the books I’d like to read, as well as my current titles in progress. You can set yourself reading goals for the year, which, of course, is nothing more than a vanity challenge. Although it is one I partake in.
Hot UK Deals (United Kingdom)
Hot UK Deals aggregates offers on everything in the UK. Members of the public can submit and vote on the deals. I have keywords such as ‘ebook’ and ‘kindle’ set up that gives me a custom feed with offers containing those words. With the word ‘Kindle’, I receive notifications for Kindle devices and Kindle Unlimited Membership. I don’t mind, but it’s something to note. Other countries will have websites akin to Hot Deals, deploy Google to find your local service.
MV: I check my feed daily, as part of my morning routine. I’ve opted out of email alerts as they send them as singular messages and I often have 40+ items in my feed a day. There’s much on here for free too, but I’ve found that Book IQ notifies me before Hot Deals.
Libraries now have eBook programs that allow you to rent books. Apps like Borrow-box and Libby are among the best. You’ll need to read on a tablet or phone, not the Kindle device, for this method. Not every library offers this service, so check your local bookhouse before enrolling.
MV: The apps look great and are easy to set up. I read on both iPad and Kindle but don’t use them as I collect all of my highlights and so wish to remain in the Kindle ecosystem. If highlights aren’t an issue for you, the apps could be invaluable tools for furthering your reading reach.
There are SubReddits, which you could think of as internet forums, that share book deals.
MV: While I do use Reddit, I haven’t found them that useful. Depending on the location of the user, the sales are exclusive to their region. I’ve never got a deal from Reddit, but have included the tip here as you may find a locally based sub that works for you. Try searching book deals or Kindle sales on Reddit and see what appears.
First Reads / Prime Reading (Worldwide for Prime Members)
Members of Amazon Prime can choose a single free fiction book from six on the First Reads program. The fiction books are a satisfying selection, and yours to enjoy forever.
Prime Reading comes bundled with the Amazon Prime membership. In essence, it’s a cut down version of Kindle Unlimited. The books included do change, but not on any schedule, so don’t hang around if you see an interesting title.
MV: I don’t use First Reads as they’re not my preferred genre, but you can’t argue with free. Prime Reading yields the odd title but don’t expect much.
Kindle Unlimited Hacks (Worldwide)
Kindle Unlimited costs £7.99 a month and allows access to thousands of Kindle books. You’re permitted ten titles at a time on a device; you’ll then need to trade them back in for more, much like a library.
MV: I’ve had the membership in the past but often receive access for free. If you sign up to UK Hot Deals (or your countries equivalent), you’ll receive a notification when Amazon runs any Kindle Unlimited offers. I recently got three months free in June 2020. The proposals are for those who are not a current member and are frequently for new users only. Try out a free trial for 30 days and see how you go.
Workflow Example with Prices
How does combining these systems work in practice? Here’s a recent example of The Last Kingdom 12 book series that I acquired for £18 (RRP £52.38). The below list is in chronological order.
- Notified of a price drop on eReader IQ of a Bernard Cornwell 6 book bundle, now £10 — May 8th
- Kindle Unlimited free for three months, via Hot UK Deals — June 22nd
- Books 9 and 10 available on Kindle Unlimited
- Books 1 and 11 available on Prime Reading
- Books 7 and 8 bought for £2.99 each (regular price) — June 30th
- Book 12 bought on Kindle Monthly Deals for £1.99 — June 30th
- Series Price if bought separately = £52.38
Patience is an asset. After purchasing the six-book bundle, I didn’t try to buy the entire series. A saving of £34 is not, of course, life-changing. But, with the amount I read, it becomes a less meagre sum when totalled over a lifetime. Why pay more when you can have an identical outcome for 70% less, with a few rudimentary systems in place?