Episode 106: Budget-Friendly Ideas for Buying Books and Blessing Authors

In this episode we look at ways to conserve money while still blessing authors in their work and our children with great books.

Books Discussed in This Episode:

Transcript with Links:

Welcome to “Books That Spark” a podcast for parents and caregivers, celebrating books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion, leading to teachable moments with our kids. Today, I wanted to talk to you about how to save money on books. I don’t know how you’re doing with the financial situation right now, and the price of different things, but many times when we face financial struggles, books are often left by the wayside. We will give that up as a luxury. And the problem is this helps support a lot of people who are trying to also survive inflation and financial difficulties. And so I wanted to kind of address that today. There are many ways that we, as parents and teachers can save money on books. And often that is really wonderful, but it will also take money out of the pockets of the writers.

And so we wanted to find a great way that we can encourage writers and still support them while still supporting our budget. So, one of the best ways, of course, we can still get books to our children and read to them every day is to visit the library and to take advantage of the little neighborhood lending libraries that are available. And so we can easily get books for our kids. We can check out a whole stack of books to read to our kids each week and that’s wonderful. And checking those books out of the library does encourage the writers and lets people at the library know that those books are important. And so that does help. It just doesn’t cost us any money, but it also doesn’t give our writers any money as well. Another way we can help is through YouTube. Now, many people are reading books on YouTube, and it is technically illegal for us to be reading a full book on YouTube. So I would not recommend doing that, but I have taken advantage of those videos, especially if I’m considering buying a book and I want to know, is this the right book for me? And that’s why most of those videos are allowed to be there because they’re used for educational purposes. And the writer understands that parents today are very frugal with their book money. And so when we know what the book is like, and we know we like the book, we’re more likely to buy it. And so hearing someone read the book to us on YouTube will cause us to then decide if we’re going to buy the book, but you can do that. And I know some parents will let their kids listen to those videos because they like the way the person on the video reads the book with emotion or with character voices or all those kinds of things.

So it is a fun thing that you can do, but just be aware that most of those, not all of them, but most of those are done illegally. And then of course we can be involved in the different contests. If you go to different writer websites, including my own, we have different giveaways each month and we’re happy to give those books away. Please take part in the different giveaways for mine. If you’re in my small Facebook group, you can see that we have a giveaway every single month. Most of the time, you just have to comment to be involved in that giveaway. Writers I’ve interviewed on here are doing giveaways every month or every few months. And so that’s one way that you can get some books for free and encourage the writers and be a part of supporting them. If you go to websites such as Christianbook.com, Thriftbooks.com, Betterworldbooks, Abebooks, which is the discount book section and used book section for Amazon. You can buy used books. Now, that doesn’t always help the writer, but it does keep the books in circulation and is a way that you can own those books.

Also on Amazon, we have availability through Kindle unlimited and some of the other book clubs that they offer where you can read eBooks for free or for very little money. And so that’s something to look into. Christianbook.com often has sales. If you go on their website, you can find some great deals on books. And then of course the most obvious way we could easily read many books is to share with our friends. If you’ve got a great book that you’ve read with your kids, you could share it with a friend and it’s still your book and you can get it back when everyone’s finished sharing within your neighborhood or your homeschool group, have a book share where you can be sharing books back and forth.

Now of course, many of these ways are great for us, but they don’t really help the authors. So how can we support these authors who are trying to survive in a crazy economy? Many of them have other jobs. They teach, they do speaking engagements and they earn money in other ways, that’s just a fact for most of our lives, most writers’ lives because very few people write enough books and make enough royalties off their books to support themselves without having some supplemental income. But we can still support these many wonderful writers through reviews. If you write reviews on Good Reads or Amazon or any of the other websites and comment and question them about something about their books, why they wrote their book or whatever, and engage with them on Facebook or social media, or even on their own websites that can also help these writers help their numbers to improve, help them to get more book deals and just increase their visibility on the worldwide web.

So this can be very beneficial to them and doesn’t cost us anything except a little bit of time. If you go into Good Reads and Amazon say once a week, just taking 15 minutes to review the books you’ve read that week. That would be a tremendous blessing to those writers and to the publishers. You can also decide to use your budget for giving gifts, birthday gifts, to include books with your birthday gifts that you get for the neighborhood children, your friends, when someone has a baby to give books as part of those gifts as well. And that will really help. And that helps stretch our budget because we’re accomplishing two things. We’re buying the books to support the industry we believe in while we are also getting the gifts we would already be spending money on. And if you have room in your budget to plan to buy books, use that budget wisely and find out what books will really bless your children and make those dollars matter and really support writers through buying their books.

Now, one last way I wanted to mention that we can really help out writers and help our budgets with books is to join launch teams. Most writers have a launch team and a launch date, and they work around that to try to let people know their book is coming out to get requests into libraries, to buy their books once it’s launched and to let people know it’s coming. So you can help out with those launch teams. Often you will either get a free copy of the book for being on the launch team and helping out, or maybe a copy or advanced copy of the ebook. So that is a really wonderful way that you can be blessed with the books, as well as blessing the writer. You can go to writer websites, to their Facebook, Instagram, or other social media accounts and find out when writers have a book launching, they will usually advertise and ask for those who would like to help with their launch team.

And you can just volunteer to be a part of that. It’s really wonderful. I’ve been a part of several different teams. It’s been a lot of fun. So that’s a way that you can be involved and not only get an advanced copy possibly or a free copy of the book, but you also have an opportunity to get to know the writer and to really see their heart and see where they are, learn more about them. And it becomes a wonderful opportunity for them to be a part of your family’s life. So that’s really a great way to benefit both your family and the writer, and to really enjoy a lot of wonderful books as we’re looking at money and trying to save money. One of the things I would recommend as well is that we buy wisely, that we support books, support authors that really do hold to a Christian worldview and that promote family values and the values we want our children to understand.

There are so many books out there that are written from a non-biblical point of view or from a warped point of view where they’re mixing beliefs and worldviews together, or they’re just trying to tear down the Christian worldview. And so just be aware of that. We can make a big difference with our money, spending it on books that support a Christian worldview, and that promote the things that we feel are important. I personally think it’s important to avoid supporting some of the groups that profess to be Christian and are not holding to a historical Christian worldview, but are promoting false teachings from some of the different groups. So look into who’s writing the book, do a little bit of research, listen to the book on YouTube, see if it has anything in it that you find questionable before you spend your money and buy those books.

And I know that books are quite expensive now, but I have friends who have self-published as well as those who have published traditionally and the way the money works and the way it boils down is they’re making a dollar or two per book. And so we may be spending $15 to $20 on a book, but that author is not seeing all of that money. They are not getting rich overnight on their book sales, so it is a very crazy industry. And the other thing I look at when I’m buying books is where they were printed. A lot of these publishers are now using China to print their books. I would say about 50% of the children’s books are printed in China. However, there are many publishers who have their books published in the US. Some use other countries such as India or South Korea or Canada, really all over.

If you are one of those people who really is watching where you’re getting your products from, sometimes it’s worth spending an extra dollar to make sure it’s printed and created in the US. We need to support our country and our people so that our economy can survive so that our country can be strong. And so as much as possible, I try to buy books that are printed in the US. That’s not always easy. And sometimes I’m sent books that are published in other countries or that are published in China. So, you know, I can’t control that, but when I purchase a book, I have a lot of power. I have that choice in my hands to support books that are promoting the worldview I believe in, that are printed in the US, and supporting my country. And so if those are issues that are important to you, you can really be aware of that when you are purchasing.

And I will tell you that even though many of the links on my website take you to Amazon, writers do make less money through Amazon, then they do some of the other sites. So that’s another thing to be aware of a way that you can really support writers and bookstores is to buy from your locally owned bookstores, the brick and mortar bookstores that are still available. We can make a huge difference in their lives by ordering and purchasing through their stores. So there’s a lot to think about, and I don’t want to politicize anything more than it already is, but it is a fact that when dealing with the finances of the marketing and the publishing world, that if you really want to make a difference with your dollar in the publishing world, buying from a local bookstore, ordering the books through a local bookstore, letting libraries know you’d like to see this book on their shelves and you would check it out and do check it out.

And those kinds of choices that we make do have an effect on the publishing world and do make a difference for writers. But again, if you can’t afford to buy a whole lot of books, reading books that you’ve checked out from the library and then reviewing them on the different websites is just a tremendous blessing to that writer and really does make a difference for them. So we can help save our budgets and still support writers and support an industry that we love and believe in. And so I wanted to share that with you today and to think about ways that we can save money and still enjoy these wonderful books. Do you have any pointers that you use to help save money with your family when it comes to buying books? What are some of the things that you’ve done if you know of a good website that I haven’t mentioned that you’d like to share, please put that in the show notes comments, and we would greatly appreciate that.

And I mentioned giveaways, please be watching. We have a giveaway every month in my private Facebook group. And you can be a part of that. I love giving books away to people who will appreciate them and enjoy them with their kids. So watch for those and take part in those giveaways. And you’ll bless the person who’s giving the contest, who’s sponsoring it and is giving away the book. You’ll bless the writer because you’re enjoying their book and it will bless you because you’re getting it for free. So I would like to share a few books with you that I really appreciate, that I think are well worth the money to get them. And some of them, I may have mentioned before, but I want to recommend some books that just will bless your family. And there’s a whole set of books that is called Tales that Tell the Truth.

And I love this whole set, this whole series. Every single one I have read has just been amazing and they tell the different Bible stories. One of my favorites, and I’ve mentioned this before, is The Garden, the Curtain, and the Cross, which shares the story of the Gospel very clearly for kids and helps connect some of the dots of the Gospel. And that one is by Carl Laferton. It is just a great book. Another one is Wherever You Go, I Want You to Know by Melissa B Kruger, it’s a wonderful book and those both are well worth the money to get them. One of my very favorites for sharing the Gospel and for clarifying the Gospel with children, and this one will appeal to middle grade as well is called The Promise: The Amazing Story of Our Long Awaited Savior by Jason Helopoulos and illustrated by Rommel Ruiz.

And I really, really love this book. I think it’s a great book. So that’s another one I would recommend. As far as board books, I highly recommend the Baby Believer series. It’s a six book set that uses basic skills. We want our children to learn such as counting colors, emotions, movements, all of those different things that we like to learn in board books. And it also talks about Biblical truth. And so as far as just getting some great books that teach the Gospel, that teach biblical truth, these are some of the ones I would recommend for our kids. I’ve read most of the books in each of these series and they all are so well written and so beautifully illustrated. And so those I think are great for any library. And I think they are well worth spending your money on, or at least getting them in the library, reading them together and learning together. For middle schoolers, I would recommend any of Sara Barratt’s books for nonfiction for fiction. I interviewed C.S. Fritz recently, and he has several books that are good for middle schoolers. And then for parents, I recommend the books I’ve recommended recently on an episode when I interviewed Kathleen Bostrom, her books for parents are just fabulous. And I think they’re well worth the money to gift those to other people or to buy them for yourself. And so when you spend your money on books that are wonderful additions to your library, that you’re going to cherish and enjoy, read and reread, then the money is not wasted. Money is well spent, wisely spent and can be used to bless our families.

Thank you for joining us for “Books That Spark” a podcast, celebrating books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussions as we disciple our children and help them follow Christ with their whole hearts, if you would like to join my mailing list, you can find me at TerrieHellardbrown.com.

Link to Blog Post about How to Write Great Book Reviews:

7 Steps to Writing Great Book Reviews

Your Host: Terrie Hellard-Brown

Terrie Hellard-Brown writes and speaks to help children and adults find God’s purpose and plan for their lives. She teaches workshops and writes devotional books, children’s stories, and Christian education materials.

Her podcast, Books that Spark, reviews children’s books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion leading to teachable moments with our kids. Her podcast posts each Tuesday morning.

Her blog posts discuss living as a disciple of Christ while parenting our children. She challenges us to step out of our comfort zones to walk by faith in obedience to Christ and to use the nooks and crannies of our lives to disciple our children.

Terrie uses her experiences as a mother of four (three on “the spectrum”), 37 years in ministry (15 in Taiwan), and 32 years teaching to speak to the hearts of readers.

Her motto is “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be WONDERFUL” and keeps her childlike joy by writing children’s stories, delighting over pink dolphins, and frequently laughing till it hurts.

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