Being a student, I can't afford to just go out and buy whatever book catches my fancy: I'd be broke all the time. But I can't let go of the reading habit as well. I had to find a balance, discover alternative reading sources.
- Library: By far, the best source of books, and the cheapest. This isn't working for me right now since my college library has next to nothing in terms of non-academic stuff, and a proper lending library is quite far from my campus, but my experience with British Council back home has been a good one. While scouting libraries, check out their collection before you sign up. Use family offers: they let you borrow more books along with dvds, vcds etc, with fees only slightly higher than individual borrower.
- Ebooks: The Internet is a veritable goldmine of books. Project Gutenberg, which has 25000 free ebooks, is a great place to start, as is the Google Books (though pages are usually missing in Google Books). Torrent sites, Scribd and Rapidshare are good places for the latest books, but may contain pirated stuff. Hostel students can check out the college LAN network for some great finds.
- Network with friends: Set up a book-sharing network with your friends. You'll be surprised at what you get. Some great books I got this way: Kite Runner, Catcher in the Rye, Catch-22.
- Second-hand stores: If you really want to buy a book, and don't really care if it's used or not, check out the roadside shops, second-hand stores, end-of-year sales etc for really good deals.