A book is like a garden carried in its pocket-Chinease proverb
I am a huge fan of books. I always have been. I think books offer the chance to see different places and views from around the world. However, books are becoming more and more expensive it seems. There are some ways around this though you need to know the tricks!
If you haven't set foot in your local library yet, you have to get yourself down there. Providing you live in the area, a library card should be free for you and your family. If you live outside the area, there is a small membership fee (my library charges $16 a family for someone living outside the municipality). With that membership you get access to books, magazines, movies (for some), audio (for some), and internet (at no extra charge).
Libraries are really good at ordering what's hot, and most will allow reservations on books that are on order. When typically a new hard cover book is $35 and up, it is a great way to save some cash. If you love the magazines, get to know your library's protocol on them. Our public library allows you to reserve series, so when they get the newest issue, they phone a list of people who have reserved it. Each month I get a call for McLeans, and I don't have to go out and buy it. That way too, I'm not constantly looking on the shelf for a monthly issue that's not there.
Something else most of you are probably not aware of, are inter-library loans. These are across Canada with every single library. Let's say you want to read a book that the library doesn't have. You ask to make an inter-library loan, and what they'll do is search every library in your province for a copy of that book. Once they find it, they ship it to your local library and you can usually get it for about a month, which no charges. There is the option of searching nationally for a book, but you do have to pay for shipping charges there. Bad side of this is that it doesn't apply to new books.
Another trick if you're looking for a book is to use your cell phone. On my phone, I have a list of books that I want to read. If I'm in Wal-Mart or a bookstore and see something I like, I'll put its name in my phone. Sometimes I'll even take a photo if I don't have time to type. What I then use the list for is to look for those titles in my local library. If they're not there, then I interlibrary loan them.
Now all of this doesn't mean that I don't still purchase books. But I'm really careful about what I purchase. If I know I can get it through my library, I won't even consider it.
The local library is usually also open to taking suggestions about what to purchase. I have a great relationship with my library, in part due to the fact that I worked there from the age of 12 to 17. I've made suggestions of great books, and they've bought them on my recommendations. It's also a great place to get into a conversation about books with people who love them.
One other thing I want to point out which doesn't always have to do with books is that libraries offer some great programs. Our local library offers children programs, book signings/tours, how to's, guest speakers on various topics, movie nights, etc. Get to your library...it can save you so much cash and bring a lot of joy to your life!