New Ways to Find and Buy Books

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[Above: One section of my library. There are two others.]

If you are an avid reader like I am (100+ books a year), you know how irritating it is to spend money on a book that you never finish, for one reason or another.  The main problem is that you are not qualifying the books enough–you are literally buying a pig in a poke.  Sure, you may have read a review, but what pleases one reader may not please you. I have discovered a method for solving this problem and now I rarely buy a book that I don’t finish.

Step One: Finding Likely Books

I still use my tried and true old-fashioned ways: I read Publishers Weekly and the New York Times Book Review, plus check Amazon for new titles. But recently I’ve subscribed to free online sites that will alert you to new titles and discounted titles. My favorite is with 10 million users. It allows you to set the genre parameters so you don’t waste your time reading about new titles that you would never read, like for me romances, spirituality, religion, and science fiction. So I’m only alerted about new titles or discounted titles in the genres of science, history, general nonfiction, mystery, crime, and thrillers. And Bookbub focuses on discounted ebooks ranging from free to $2.99. A competing site is I also subscribe to free email newsletters like Murder & Mayhem ( and Daedalus Books ( You can also visit your local bookstores and browse to assemble a list of likely titles.

Step Two: Qualifying Likely Books

Suppose you have used step one to assemble a list of likely books to read, but you’re still leery about spending any money until you learn more about those titles, or rank them according to your reading preferences. This is where Amazon is invaluable. Nearly every title these days is available in a Kindle ebook edition. So call up the title on Amazon and select the Kindle option. You will see that Amazon allows you to download a free sample of the title–usually the first few chapters–to your Kindle reader or a tablet with an Amazon Kindle reading app. So read the sample and decide if you want to buy it.

Step Three: Choosing the Format of the Books To Buy and the Seller

I know, decisions, decisions–you have a lot of options here. I collect non-fiction books for my library but not fiction, so I’m more inclined to buy nonfiction in hardcover or paperback print editions. With fiction, I’ll choose the least expensive option, generally an ebook–except if my wife wants to read the tile too, and she doesn’t like reading on tablets. In that case, Amazon will show me a list of used book sellers with discounted prices. I also check local new and used bookstores for special prices on popular titles.

Often it takes a bit of effort to save money, but you’ll end most of your book-buying frustrations if you implement my method. Good reading!