Buying Books Without Money

Just yesterday multiple commenters said that they’d read or understand why people read in bookstores because not everyone can afford to buy new books. Well today I discovered that there’s actually a way for people to buy books without any money.

1010 Ways to Buy Without Money is a project that started in 2011 in Spain that has now spread to most regions of the world. The basic premise is that stalls at the events will be ‘selling’ books for a variety of prices set by organizers or by the donors of the books. And none of the prices I’ve read about are outrageous or embarrassing.

For example, one might be asked to eat all your food in exchange for a children’s book. Or someone might be asked to leave positive messages inside books. Or to donate your time to a charity. See, the thing is that the system essentially operates on a promise. The buyer can’t do everything right then and there at the stall, but they know the price of the book and are asked to send photos at a later date of them fulfilling their promise. And there are so many different ‘prices’ for books at these events that it makes buying a new book all the more exciting. Organizing a picnic for at least five kids. Taking snacks to work for your colleagues. Putting flowers on your balcony. Spending a day on your own. All of these things have been the price to buy a new book without spending any money at all. And I think everything about this is great.

The only downside I’ve found when reading about these events (that are about to start happening in the coming weeks) is that they haven’t caught on as much in the United States. There are smaller events held, but I’d like to see something in Houston or New York City or LA on a grand scale that is unmatched by any other place in the world. And maybe that will happen at some point, but for now I’ll just stick to reading about these great events from afar.

What do you think? Like the idea of buying books without having to spend any money?

You can visit the initiative’s website here to see more ways people are asked to buy books without money.


On this day in 2014 I published The Lack of Diversity in my Reading.

32 thoughts on “Buying Books Without Money

  1. This is good! I have been doing a free library service for past a year for school students here in my home town and this seems really encouraging to me to give away books in exchange of some kind yet helpful acts from them! 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. See, um, this is why libraries were invented. So you don’t have to spend money on books. I didn’t comment yesterday because I don’t go to book stores and read. I don’t go to book stores, period. 😛 But I practically live at my library. I can check out a lot of new books that have just come out. Heck, I can get dvd’s that aren’t even available through Netflix. I think libraries are one of our most under-appreciated resources. I could go on rants about how people should go to their library more. So, personally, not having to pay for books is how I live my life…..

    Liked by 1 person

      • Well, very true, but how often are you going to be purchasing every single book you read? And then if you aren’t planning on keeping it, it seems unnecessary to have purchased it. If it’s a book you plan on rereading, I say own it, but hey, if you aren’t sure you are going to like it, borrow it from your library first. I have done that. I read a book and if I really like it and plan to reread it multiple times, then I buy it. (Used mostly, but that’s another whole post)


      • Please don’t tell me that you’re about to say that because I don’t reread books that my books are somehow enjoyed less or less valuable to me than they would be to someone who does. I’m hoping my assumption is incorrect. Cause I’ve never once heard that argument and I would think of it only as a huge joke.


      • Must I also watch movies I own over and over again? TV shows I like too. The argument is basically telling me I SHOULD do something because everyone else seems to. Ha at that.


  3. Definitely an interesting concept of paying it forward with books! I love free stuff for sure, but, as a writer, books are one thing I don’t like to be cheap about. I want to support writers by buying their books so they can keep writing. So I am torn about the idea I think


  4. I think it sounds like a great idea. A way to motivate book lovers into paying for books in a way that positively effects others, rather than only giving money to whatever business they might buy a book from.


  5. I think it’s a good idea. I advocate for library book sales. While the books aren’t free, if people are really strapped for cash, they can get books for around 90% off the publisher’s price.


  6. This is awesome! Many people I know can’t afford books but want to read, spend most of their time working, and they barely have a few extra pennies once their bills are paid, so I usually try to sneak a novel into their bookbag or put it in their locker. If these were around, they could probably take their work-free Saturdays and go “buy” a book in exchange for a few good deeds. These events really sound like fun!


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