The holidays have passed us by and now our thoughts turn to “whoa, that’s a lot of bills I have to pay!” Being a nerd doesn’t make it any easier because we constantly have more and more things that we don’t just want, but need. Top among that list is books and our push to read often sends our costs up. However, there are many free avenues that we can explore to get our reading fix!

Library: This should be at the top of everyone’s list, but many times it is not. I’ve heard from many fellow nerds who rush out to buy the latest book just to read it once and then cast it aside. Instead, head out to your local library where you can read both the latest best-sellers and long-forgotten classics for free. It’s the power of your library card. And with the integration of most library systems today, anything that your local library does not have can be ordered from surrounding libraries, so you’ll never miss out.

E-Books: If you simply do a search for “free e-books” on the web you’ll turn up many sites that provide books for free, from classics to modern fiction. Project Gutenberg was the first to embark on the free e-book trend and many have followed, including Google, Amazon, and Many Books. Whether you have an e-reader or not, there are free e-books out there waiting for you.

Book Swaps: This is the avenue I tend to turn to most often because of my success rate in acquiring books. If you are one of those individuals who has a pile of books taking up space, book swaps are a great way to not only get rid of them, but turn them into new reads. The two I frequent the most are BookMooch and PaperbackSwap. From these two sites I’ve managed to get the latest books, as well as many books from my wishlist that have been out of print for a while. We can all benefit from the exchange of literature. [Additionally, the PaperbackSwap site is partnered with SwapaCD and SwapaDVD, so you can apply the same principle to CDs and DVDs.]

There are definitely more areas to explore for free books and I encourage you to seek them out. Some publishers send out review copies in exchange for a review written on their site or your blog. Other avenues include free audiobooks so that you can listen on the go. And the list goes on. So, the next time you’re wondering if you have to sacrifice your reading habit for the holiday bills, remember that being a thrifty book nerd is never a bad thing.