The ancient words of Ecclesiastes 12:12 say, “Of making many books there is no end.”
Those words have never been more true than today; and if anything, the making of books has only accelerated at a quicker pace with the advent of new print and digital technologies to deliver books faster and cheaper than ever (I’m thinking of you Amazon.com).
I’ll admit, I am a book nerd. I love reading books and finding deals on books. Over the past couple of years, I have strategically (and frugally!) added to my library hundreds of helpful books that I have either read or am thrilled to have as a part of my personal and pastoral library.
And over the past few months, I’ve thought long and hard about the “LifeHacks” I know to save money on Christian books.
Keep in mind cheap doesn’t mean good. We have short lives and should seek to steward our reading as much as we can for the Lord.
Before we start, I’d like to admit this list is incomplete: it’s missing the hacks YOU know and use. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section.
10 LifeHacks to Save You Money on Christian Books
1. Look for deals out there.
This LifeHack comes with a “Duh.”
There are many blogs and websites that seek to share great book deals and recommendations, including this blog in my Links to Make You Think and Grow posts. This includes physical books and digital editions, mainly Kindle.
A few other places to look:
- Tim Challies’ blog
- Aaron Armstrong at BloggingTheologically.com
- This massive list of 125+ free Christian Books for Kindle on Cross-Points.org
- Westminster Seminary’s Bookstore also offers amazing discounts and bulk-buying options for churches.
Here are a couple of posts I’ve shared with evergreen freebies:
2. ChristianAudio.com‘s free Audiobook of the month.
Being on ChristianAudio.com’s email list has helped me compile, free of charge, some real gems like Knowing God by J.I. Packer, Think by John Piper, Marriage in Light of Eternity by Francis Chan, Follow Me by David Platt, and more—FOR FREE.
You’d be a fool not to take advantage of this incredible resource. Visit ChristianAudio.com/Free and download the freebie of the month, which happens to be Recovering Redemption by Matt Chandler.
3. Borrow from the library.
Yes, the library still exists. Many libraries today also allow you to check out eBooks and audiobooks online. While it may be a little tricky to figure out their software and how to get the content on your device, it’s worth a trip to the library and a troubleshooting conversation with the IT guy. Many libraries allow you to request books as well, and you know what that means…
4. Enter online contests.
Every contest has a winner, whether it has 5 entries or 5 million.
SOMEBODY has to win.
That somebody might as well be you.
5. Write reviews.
This LifeHack only works if you’re willing to read a book, write a review, and post it on a blog. If you have a blog with some readership, many publishers are happy to send you a copy for free. Check out the following links for some good blog review programs: Crossway’s Beyond the Page Program, Baker Books, Kregel Publishers, BookLook Bloggers, NetGalley, and Cross-Focused Reviews.
If you are looking to start a blog that’s more than a freebie through WordPress.com or Blogger, I recommend Quality Hosting Inc., who I use to host this blog. They are a Christian run company that go out of their way to provide great service.
(See some of my book reviews.)
6. Read old books in public domain.
Many older works that are now in the public domain are now free online in a variety of formats. Some free books for Kindle include:
You can also find hundreds of old books for Kindle or audiobook through Loyal Books (who used to be called BooksShouldBeFree.com). You will have to paw through some garbage that is included in the “Religion” category, but here you will also find:
- The Pilgrim’s Progress
- John Bunyan’s biography Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners
- Ben Hur
- All of Grace by Charles Spurgeon
- Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton
- and much, much more.
Keep in mind that some books are nearly impossible to listen to in audio form. (That’s why I didn’t link to the audio version of Calvin’s Institutes.)
Here’s something else I came across, although I can’t speak to the quality: Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis on Archive.org.
7. If you want a book by a preacher, search to see sermons are available to download for free.
Most preachers are too busy to pastor and write books and the books they do write are sermons edited into book form. That means a good amount of the content doesn’t change when it goes from sermon to book. This also goes for many conference speakers and conferences. It seems like they always turn The Gospel Coalition (audio) and Together for the Gospel Conferences (audio) into books. Why not download the audio for free?
Here are a few examples of what I mean:
- John Piper: A Sweet and Bitter Providence Book | mp3 Sermons
- Colin Smith: Jonah: Navigating a God-Centered Life | For mp3s, you’ll have to navigate the archives of full-sermons site for the series How to Avoid a God-Centered Life
- Mark Dever: 12 Challenges Churches Face | mp3 Audio
- Martyn Lloyd Jones and Preaching and Preachers | Free mp3 audio
- Martyn Lloyd Jones and Spiritual Depression | Free mp3 audio
- If you find John MacArthur commentaries helpful as I do, his sermons could help you a lot as well.
8. Check out the book sections at thrift stores.
“Hi, I’m Kevin, and I shop at thrift stores.”
Since that’s out of the way, I can explain the best kind of thrift stores to find quality Christian books: thrift stores that support Christian causes—especially local ones and not larger chains. These are more likely to have Christian readers drop off some treasures like the ones in my tweet below.
Go ahead, be jealous. 😉
— Kevin Halloran (@kp_halloran) July 8, 2015
9. Borrow books from friends.
This LifeHack shouldn’t need much of an explanation—other than it annoys some friends when they don’t get books back!
What’s your LifeHack?
Let me know in a comment how you get quality Christian books for cheap.