As you know, if you've read my blog at all, our homeschool approach is extremely eclectic. We don't follow any specific approach. One thing that we do a lot of, is use "real" books (as opposed to textbooks). Charlotte Mason would call them Living Books.
So far, since this school year started (July), we have used approximately 200 different "resources" (books, ebooks, videos, audios). Some of those are review products, and I often don't bother to record the books I read in circle time since the older girls aren't there, and I don't have to report on the little kids yet (our state requires reporting starting at age 8, and one requirement is a list of all resources used). Still, that's a LOT of books, and such if I had to actually buy them all!
So, I thought today I'd share how I go about finding the books we need without spending a fortune:
MY OWN BOOKSHELVES
The first thing I do is make sure I don't already own the book. Someday I hope to have a searchable list of all books that I own, and their location, on my computer, for now, I *do* have (most of) my books sorted into categories on our shelves, so I just check the shelf.
When I need a book, the first place I check is the library. I can go to our county library's website and search all books in the county, and have it sent to our local branch for me to pick up. I'm only allowed to reserve 10 books at one time, so, while otherwise, I wouldn't mess with separate library cards for the kids, since I'm always with them, Lexie and Ashlyn both have their own cards. That lets me reserve up to 30 books at a time (there's no limit on how many I can have checked out, but I can only have 10 per card on reserve at any one time). I hole punched all 3 cards and have them all on a key chain clipped to the handle of our library bag.
I have over 300 books saved to my Amazon Kindle account, most of them, I've been able to get free by keeping an eye on blogs that list current amazon freebies. So I check my Kindle account, and also check on Amazon, in case the book is currently free on Kindle. Older, public domain books are usually available free. While I'm checking, if it's not free, I'll also make note of what the price for the Kindle version, as well as the physical book, both new and used.
If it's not free on Kindle, and it might be public domain (old enough to no longer paying royalties to the author), I check Project Gutenberg, free e-books. I download the .mobi (Kindle) version or the .pdf (Adobe) version, depending on how I plan to use it.
If it's a book I'm going to use as a read aloud, and might be old enough to be public domain, I also check LibriVox. This is an awesome resource that saves my voice! Volunteers read and record public domain books to be downloaded free! I download them to my phone and we can listen to them in the car!
Once I've exhausted my free resources, I start looking at where I can purchase it inexpensively. I already have an idea of price from Kindle/Amazon, but, I also check Half.Com. This is ebay's used book site. If the price for the used book is the same on amazon and half.com I'll usually choose half.com because they let you combine shipping if you purchase multiple books from the same seller. I check the sellers that have TONS of books in inventory, usually sellers of ex-library books. I keep a running "wish list" in half.com that are books I want, but don't need immediately. So when I DO need a book immediately, I also check that seller for the books on my wishlist. Combining shipping can drop the price of a book, shipped from around $5 to around $3.
Even if a book is available from the library, if I'm going to use it regularly all year, I'll at least check to see if I can get it inexpensively. Sometimes buying the book new from amazon, and getting free shipping by combining items to get Super Saver shipping can be cheaper than buying used. Sometimes used is cheaper than Kindle . . . it's important to check amazon, kindle, and half.com for any book before buying. If the price is essentially the same, consider other things . . . If I'm going to be travelling while we read the book, having it on Kindle means I don't have to pack another book, if I'm buying the book new, from Amazon, I might be able to get the Kindle version free, best of both worlds! My girls prefer to read "real books" rather than ebooks, so if they'll be reading it independently, if the price is the same, I'll go with the physical book. I can re-sell physical books, but they take up space on my, already overflowing, bookshelves unless/until I do. I can also loan them to friends . . . lots of things to consider, it's different for each book.
But I don't have a Kindle!
I don't! Kindle has free apps for PC, iPad, iPhone, iTouch, and Android. I have the Kindle app on my laptop, phone (Android) and iPad. I also have it on both of my daughters' iTouches. This has worked WONDERFULLY for us!
And that's I keep book costs down for our homeschool!
This post is part of Blogging through the Alphabet at Ben and Me.