A How-to Guide for Finding Cheap eBooks

Do you want to know how to build a large digital eBook library? If so, then this is the guide for you.

My Grandpa had tens of thousands of physical books. As a kid, I was in awe every time I got to visit his libraries. He had two homes and each was filled with thousands of books. The best part of visiting my Grandpa was that he would always send me home with books.

It’s a different world now. There was no such thing as an eBook in my Grandpa’s era. His only option of building his library was purchasing physical copies of books.

I’ve inherited my Grandpa’s love for books. But I’ve struggled deciding what type of library to build. Digital or physical? Each has its pros and cons. With a digital book I have easy access to any book from my phone or iPad. I can search through my notes effortlessly. But a physical book has substance. I can feel the pages. It is a thing that I own and can show off.

Once I purchased an iPad I decided to focus on building a digital library.

There are no used eBooks. This is an entirely new world for me. Most of the physical books I have purchased in my life have been used. I loved going to a used book store or thrift shop and paying a few dollars for a great find. But with eBooks you are left to the mercy of the publisher’s price. 

Luckily, there are tools and resources available to help us find cheap eBooks. In this article, I will give the three methods I have used to build a large digital library without spending much money. Most of the eBooks I’ve purchased were under $2.

First, let me say, I am talking about building a digital library with books you actually own. There are many online libraries that allow you to check out eBooks for certain time periods. These are great options but I won’t be discussing them in this article.


This is my favorite resource. eReaderIQ (https://www.ereaderiq.com/) is a website that tracks eBook prices on Amazon.

eBooks go on sale more often than you would think. The problem is knowing when this happens. For example, this is a screenshot of the Kindle price for Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. Most of the last year the price was $7.99, but for a few days, it went on sale for $2.99. The trick is to know the handful of days a book goes on sale. eReaderIQ helps keep track of these price drops. 

I used CamelCamelCamel to show the eBook price over time.

The website’s interface allows you to filter for numerous parameters such as price, author, and genre. One of the best features of the website is you can set up price drop notifications for specific books or authors. You will then receive an email whenever a price drop happens.

While I was working on this article I got an email that one of the authors I monitor had a book on sale. I was able to pick up Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End for only $1.99.

You can also browse current books that are on sale. This is a link to the deals section of eReaderIQ which has the current books that are on sale for only $1 (https://www.ereaderiq.com/deals/). 

I also listen to a lot of audiobooks with Audible. You can upgrade eBook purchases to include audible narration for a few dollars more. I’m not exactly sure how much each upgrade will cost (it depends on the book), but I sometimes find some really great deals. For example, I purchased the book The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur C. Clarke for $1.99. As part of the purchase, I was able to add an Audible version for only $2.16! If you purchase audiobooks from Audible then you know how great of a deal that is.

Free eBooks

There are hundreds of thousands of books in the public domain. Most of these books were published more than a hundred years ago. Many of these books have been digitized and are available for free.

Project Gutenberg (https://www.gutenberg.org/) is a wonderful resource to find free books. It’s an online repository of over 60,000 free eBooks. This is completely legal. All of the books on Project Gutenberg are in the public domain. You can find almost every “classic” of literature on this website. You can read the books on the website or even send them to your Kindle. It’s a little tricky to send to your Kindle, and I haven’t always had much luck with the formatting, but at least it’s free.

Amazon also offers many of the classics for free in a Kindle format. If a book you are interested in is older than a hundred years old, then check to see if Amazon has a free classic edition. You sometimes have to do a little digging to find the free version, because Amazon pushes the paid versions. Here is a link to search results for many of the free Kindle books: Amazon Kindle Classics.

One last thing to be aware of is that these free eBooks are sometimes prone to errors and formatting issues. Many of the people digitizing these books are doing so for free and by themselves. So just keep that in mind!

Daily/Weekly Emails

A final option to find cheap eBooks is to find a daily or weekly email subscription. This option is the one I use the least. But if you don’t know exactly what books you want this might be for you. 

Bookbub (https://www.bookbub.com/) is one of the most popular subscription services. The website allows you to customize what type of eBook deals you’d like to see. You can set up the service to send you a daily email with all the eBook deals that match your desired genres or interests.

If you know good ways to find eBook deals that I didn’t include, let me know in the comments or send me an email.

Write to me: sam@samuelpedro.com

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