Books are an amazing thing. They are both a way to find information and a way to escape to magical worlds. They entertain you in times of boredom, and comfort you when times get rough.
For these reasons, there was absolutely no way we were going to give up books and reading when we set out on our roadschooling adventure. After all, what kind of shcool environment doesn’t have good reading material on hand?
The problem is that a 250-square-foot space doesn’t exactly offer tons of room for book storage. This meant that most of our already established library had to go.
So…what would we read?
Not to worry! We have found quite a few solutions to this problem. Many of these are options we use regularly, and some we have yet to try. However, every option for acquiring books included on this list has been tried and enjoyed by at least one other full-time RVer that we know of.
There is nothing quite like cracking open a book and feeling the pages with your hands while your nose is filled with the smell of paper. Fortunately, moving into an RV doesn’t have to mean you give this experience up; it just means you have to find creative ways to obtain it.
Try these ideas the next time you crave a good book:
Non-Resident and Temporary Library Cards
No matter where you travel, it’s pretty likely there will be a library nearby. While you won’t be able to use your current library card in another city or town, you will likely be able to sign up for a temporary or non-resident card. These cards usually cost a small amount of money, but depending on how long you will be in the area, they can be well worth the investment.
Don’t want to spend money on a card? Try visiting the library for a day and simply binge-reading there. This will give you your reading fix without costing a dime.
Little Free Library
Little Free Library is a book exchange program popping up all over the country. It involves finding one of the cute little book houses that holds available books, adding a book of your own to the collection, and taking one you’d like to read.
This a great option if you aren’t picky about what you read.
Campground Book Swaps
Similar to the Little Free Library option, many campgrounds have an ongoing book swap. Generally, these book collections are stored in the laundry room or recreation center.
The selection is usually pretty limited, but considering that the swap is in the campground, the convenience can’t be beat. Just be sure to replace any book you take with a book of your own.
Thrift Store Method
If you don’t mind spending a little bit of money on your reading material, you might enjoy the thrift store method of acquiring books.
Because thrift stores typically charge a very small amount of money for their books, one can easily buy a new book each week. When you finish with one title, donate it to the next thrift store you come across and pick up something new to read.
Booksalefinder.com is a great website that provides information on upcoming used book sales all over the US. These sales are perfect for purchasing virtually disposable reading material because the books are generally very inexpensive. Therefore, when you finish a book, you won’t feel bad about donating it to a library, thrift store, or campground book collection.
Book Exchanges with Friends
Everyone loves getting mail! Why not guarantee yourself some fun mail every couple of weeks by creating a mail-based book exchange with friends? Have everyone choose a book, read it, and then pass it on to the next person until everyone has read every book.
With enough friends involved, you could easily read 5–8 new titles for the price of one, and save yourself the hassle of storing them.
While physical books do offer a very unique and wonderful experience, the convenience of a digital book can’t be ignored. This is especially true when you live in a tiny space and must consider storage issues.
For this reason, many RVers choose to read most things in digital form using the methods below.
— Subscriptions —
A good number of RV travelers have an Amazon Prime subscription. The free shipping makes life a bit easier for those who aren’t always in places with well-stocked box stores. That said, this membership does offer a few other bonuses that are often overlooked.
One of the best things offered to Prime members is the ability to read over a thousand Kindle titles. This makes Amazon Prime a pretty good option, especially if you use the free shipping and video content as well.
The cost for Amazon Prime is currently $99 per year.
If you are looking for kid’s content, the Amazon FreeTime program is a fabulous option. Amazon FreeTime allows kids unlimited access to tons of kid-friendly apps, videos, and of course, books. All content is specifically picked by Amazon, meaning no adult content is ever found on the platform. We love this program for the books as well as the educational games it contains.
Amazon FreeTime is a monthly subscription that costs $4.99 a month for one child or $9.99 a month for 2–4 children.
Prime members receive a small discount and pay only $2.99 a month for one child and $6.99 a month for 2–4 children.
Another Amazon-owned platform, Audible is a wonderful choice if you love audiobooks. While it is on the pricey side, it can save audiobook lovers money over time. The interface is well-designed, and it’s incredibly easy to switch from one listening device to the next.
The price for Audible is $14.95 a month and includes one free audiobook “credit” per payment.
If ebooks are your thing, you will adore the Kindle Unlimited program. This subscription service has been referred to as the “Netflix of books”, and is an amazing deal if you read a lot.
The service offers over a million ebooks to choose from, and allows users unlimited access to those titles. Additionally, subscribers have the pleasure of reading e-magazines and listening to the available audiobooks whenever they like.
Kindle Unlimited is $9.99 a month, making it a fantastic deal for the heavy reader.
Scribd (updated 3/22/18)
Much like Kindle Unlimited, Scribd is an ebook subscription service, and since it changed to an unlimited service in February 2018, many feel it is the best option out there.
The basic membership is free, but only allows users access to a limited number of books and magazines. The premium membership is what you want. It allows access to an extensive catalogue of books, magazines, and audio books and your access is 100% unlimited.
The cost of Scribd is a mere $8.99 a month.
Yet another ebook subscription service, Playster actually offers unlimited games, movies, and music along with their books in one package deal. That said, the content is fairly limited, and some customers have had issues with the way things work at Playster. Therefore, you may want to do some research for jumping on board this service.
The full Playster package comes in at $24.95 a month. However, there is an option to pay for services individually.
— Free Options —
Okay, so this is the most amazing program, and one every full-time traveler should put to use. Overdrive allows users to borrow and use library books and audiobooks online. This can be done from their website or through their app.
The selection varies based on what library system you are with, but if you have a collection of non-resident cards from various locations, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding anything you need.
Ebook Bike is a pretty cool website with a great number of free ebooks available for download. The site is funded by users, and every book is used with permission. This means you can get free reading material legally!
Another awesome site, Centsless Books gives visitors access to a running list of ebooks that are free on Amazon at any given time. This is amazing, as it means you can find interesting new titles to read and never pay a cent. Therefore, this site is highly recommend for those who enjoy finding new things to read on a regular basis.
Audiobooks are a great way to enjoy good stories together as a family. They are especially wonderful for roadtrips. However, not everyone has the money to pay for audiobooks individually, and the Audible subscription is a bit steep.
Fortunately, there is LibriVox. This nifty website gives the public access to a wide variety of free audiobooks. While not all of their titles are top-notch, some are amazingly well done, so be sure to keep trying until you find something you like.
As you can see, with just a smidgen of planning and a bit of creativity, you can easily have constant access to an enormous collection of reading material while you travel. Not only that, but you can do so without sacrificing all of your cabinet space or adding excessive weight to your rig.
***Want some ideas of awesome things to read during your travels? I highly recommend this Free 50 State Booklist from my friend over at Faith Takes Flight. This list includes book suggestions for each of the states, meaning you can make your reading match your travels. How cool is that? (Updated 3/22/18)***
Have a suggestion you’d like to add? Please let me know in the comments!