I love to read. Books are better than TiVo, even. I know, it's hard for me to believe I just wrote that too.
Although I love buying new books, I try not to. They can be expensive and end up accumulating throughout the house in tall piles while waiting to be read. I don't get the opportunity to read as much as I'd like, so it's actually a lot more convenient and cost-effective for me to use the county library system. Also, because I often return the books late, I feel good that I'm contributing $$ to my library's ongoing success.
(That's how I justify my delinquency, anyway. Whenever I've said, "I need to run by the library to pay my dues," Vic always corrects me: "They're fines, Jen. They mean you're bad. They're not the cost of membership.")
Whatever, smart guy.
My mom and sister are also frequent library users. Well, my mom used to be a library user until she moved to Jackson County, where they closed all their libraries last spring. Can you believe that? What kind of illiterate boneheads don't want libraries? Mom has found this very disappointing, of course, and has given up reading entirely.
OK, maybe she hasn't totally given up; my bookshelves keep getting emptier somehow, and I think her last visit might have something to do with that. There's good news, though; while browsing the 'net this morning I ran into a few library alternatives I think could be pretty convenient. Convenient-er than stealing from one's daughter, anyway...
I think we can all agree that the Netflix concept is pretty cool. Book Swim is similar. You pay a monthly fee ($19.99-$35.99) and can borrow 3-11 books at a time. Shipping is free both directions. This is undoubtedly more expensive than borrowing books from the library, but if it's impossible for you to leave Barnes & Noble without spending $150, it's probably a pretty good option.
Booksfree is another service similar to Netflix. Monthly fees (no, "booksfree" is not actually free...) are $9.99-$37.99 for paperbacks, and you can have 2-12 at a time. They also carry audio books, which are on a different membership plan. Shipping both ways is free.
Bookmooch is sorta like Freecycle. You enter a list of books you want to give away, and if someone requests one, you send it off to them and earn points. You then use those points to purchase books from others. The service is free; you only pay for shipping when you send out books. Novel Action, TitleTrader, WhatsOnMyBookshelf, Zunafish, FrugalReader, Readers United, Bookins and PaperBackSwap work in pretty much the same way, and some include CDs and DVDs in their libraries.
If you buy books but pass them on to other readers when you're done, check out BookCrossing. Assign a BookCrossing ID to your book and then leave it somewhere--anywhere!--for someone else to pick up. The idea is that that person eventually does the same thing. You can trace its travels on the web site. Curious, eh?
Now, if I were a penny-wise blogger I'd check each of these sites out for referral bonuses, register, and try to get y'all to sign up under me so I could get free crap. But I'm lazy. And I am neither a penny-wise blogger, nor biased in any way whatsoever, at least where these recommended sites are concerned. Happy reading!