11 novel MoneySaving tricks to get must-read Kindle books for FREE (or just 99p)
Amazon is heaving with Kindle books that are permanently free or 99p. Yet these cheap titles may not always match your virtual to-read pile. In fact, you often have to wade through a lot of very average books to find the good ones. And if you pay full-price for Kindle books and are devouring several a month while stuck indoors, the cost can soon stack up.
So I wanted to share my top tricks for getting must-read Kindle books (ie, those you REALLY want to read) at dirt-cheap prices or for free.
Of course, to find which Kindle books are currently free or very cheap, you could simply select a genre, then sort by price on Amazon. Plenty of classic tomes – the likes of Jane Eyre and Frankenstein – are available on Kindle for free, for example.
But to sort the wheat from the chaff, you need to get clever – it's all about grabbing bestsellers and specific titles while they're on short-term offer. If you know where to look, there's a treasure trove of amazing free or 99p Kindle books to be found. And it's worth noting you don't actually need a Kindle to read these books – you can buy them to read on your phone, tablet, etc with the free Kindle Reading app*.
So without further ado, here are 11 novel ways to never run out of cheap but enthralling reading material again:
- Sign up to clever tool BookBub for alerts on bargains in your fave genres. Nifty free tool BookBub will send you daily alerts when must-read e-books in your selected genres and formats (including Kindle) are free or uber-cheap. You can choose to get updates on whatever's your bag, from crime bestsellers to literary thrillers.
Alerts often include deals on big-name authors. Bargains that popped into my inbox in the last few weeks included books by David Baldacci, Joanne Harris and SJ Watson.
Kind of a Book works in a similar way. Sign up, select genres such as action or historical fiction, and it sends daily deal alerts.
- Get price-drop emails for specific titles – and check the price history too. Kindle e-book prices move up and down like a yo-yo, which is where another free tool, eReaderIQ, comes in. It's a book-lover's dream when it comes to getting the titles you want to read at a decent price.
eReaderIQ lets you enter your desired price for a particular book, then fires you an email when Amazon hits it. Just search for a book and enter the maximum price you want to pay. It will email when the price falls to that amount or lower, so you know when to pounce.
The tool also shows Kindle e-books' price histories, so you can judge if a deal's really a deal. Simply search for a title, then scroll down to see a graph. We found Donna Tartt's The Little Friend listed at £6.55, "reduced from £9.99". But the chart showed the highest price the book has ever been since eReaderIQ started tracking it in 2012 was £7.19.
For anyone wondering, CamelCamelCamel, which tracks other Amazon products' prices in a similar way, doesn't work for Kindle books.
- Choose from a MILLION free books with a free Kindle Unlimited trial, including any book from the Harry Potter series. A bit like Spotify for readers, Kindle Unlimited* is a £7.99/month subscription service that gives you access to a library of a million books. You can borrow up to 10 titles at a time – goodies right now include all seven Harry Potter books, The Other Wife by Claire McGowan and PS, I Love You by Cecelia Ahern.
Even better, if you're new to Kindle Unlimited, you can take advantage of its 30-day free trial (sign in to view offers, as it offers some people longer). The catch is you'll need to finish any books you're reading by the end of the trial, as they disappear after that. You'll need to give payment details to sign up, so make sure you remember to cancel if you don't want to continue with your subscription – otherwise you'll be charged £7.99/mth every month until you cancel.
- Got Amazon Prime? Borrow over 1,000 books for 'free', including Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and many Lonely Planets. If you're a Prime member but not on Kindle Unlimited, you can still access over 1,000 books at no extra cost via Prime Reading* – and keep them as long as you're subscribed to Prime.
All Prime Reading books are on Kindle Unlimited, and obviously you've far fewer to choose from. But there are still some corkers in there. Right now, highlights include Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling, Ratburger by David Walliams and Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver.
Going away soon? A host of Lonely Planet books are on the list, including Budapest, Crete and Canary Islands.
- Join book-lovers' Facebook groups for word-of-mouth recommendations. While not exclusively about bargains, Facebook book groups are often where the best 99p deals are to be spotted. This is because people share when they notice one of their faves is on offer.
For example, my virtual bookshelf is stacked with 99p recommendations I heard about via The Motherload Book Club. It's a friendly, inclusive community, where mums bond over their favourite books.
There's also the UK Crime Book Club and, for teachers, the Twinkl Book Club. Just search for book clubs in the genres you like – there's sure to be a group for you. Please comment below if you know other good groups. We'd love to hear of them.
- Check out hot daily (and monthly) Kindle deals – and grab bestsellers from 99p. It's well worth signing up to the Kindle Daily Deals newsletter. Each day Amazon features selected reads at up to 70% off – and usually at least three bestsellers are listed at 99p each. You can also check what the deals are each day via its Kindle Daily Deals page.
Sometimes there will even be one-day sales featuring several books from one popular author. For example, last year I bagged seven Anne Tyler books for 99p each on the same day. Woo!
There's also the Monthly Deals page with books at up to 70% off. March gems include Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult (99p), Silver by Chris Hammer (99p) and The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell (99p).
Of course, they're not all bestsellers. But in my experience the selection tends to be decent, with strong temporary reductions on well-read books.
- Fall in love with romance novels – for free or 99p. Another clever tool, Pillow Talk, pumps out bargains in one of the most popular genres of fiction, romance. Whether you prefer your romantic novels set against a Western, historical or sci-fi backdrop, it lets you filter the deals to suit your taste.
To find steals, click 'All Book Deals', select a genre, then under 'book store', select Amazon UK. (You may see a dollar sign, but the price in pounds should be the same as the price in dollars.) Alternatively, enter your email address to get alerts on freebies and bargains in your favourite romance sub-genres.
- Grab 80 Kindle books for £1 each. Until Tuesday 14 April, Amazon has a £1 Sale* with 80 books at £1. Volumes include The Other Wife by Claire McGowan and The House by the River by Lena Manta.
- Get hot pre-release e-books for 'free' (if you've Prime) or £1.99 (everyone else). Amazon First Reads* lets Prime members download one Kindle book a month free from eight editors' picks – and you'll be getting to read the books a month before their official release. New titles are announced on the first of each month, with March's featuring Wall of Silence by Tracy Buchanan and The Other Family by Loretta Nyhan.
Not got Amazon Prime? You can still bag one 'First Read' book for 99p per month by subscribing to the First Reads newsletter. Just click 'subscribe' at the top of the First Reads* page.
- Listen instead of reading – Kindle books often let you buy a bargain audiobook too. If you've a Kindle book, Amazon normally lets you buy the audiobook for a small extra charge. To see which of your collection you can do this on, log on to Amazon's Matchmaker Tool* for a personalised list.
Big audiobook fan? Bizarrely, it's often cheaper to buy a Kindle book first and then opt for the audiobook as an addition, rather than buy the audiobook outright. See our Audible Tricks blog for more.
- Times newspaper subscribers get one free Kindle book a month. Times+ is a reward scheme for Times newspaper subscribers (online or in print). Every month, subscribers can download a free Kindle book. This month it's The Evolution of Everything by Matt Ridley.
To download the e-book, log on to Times+ then click 'download' and follow the instructions.