Do you love to read books but don’t want to sacrifice any of the space in your RV? Or maybe you’re looking for a way to save on weight so you can travel even further without worrying about overloading your RV. In either case, we have some great solutions for you! In this article, we will discuss four different ways to read books while on the road including an option for those who simply must have a hard copy book in their hand. The options for ebooks include the public library, Libby (Overdrive), and Amazon Kindle. This is a very important topic for us since Julie and I read over 100 books a year combined. We simply had to find ways to keep the reading habit alive while not overloading the RV with paper books, and we think we have come upon the best solutions.
Join the Public Library
Public libraries are great resources for books because they offer a large selection of titles at no cost. While everyone knows that you can check out traditional bound books from their local library, not nearly as many know that you can get ebooks for free too. All you need is a library card, which can be obtained at your local library branch. By local, we mean where you have your domicile or home base address. Once you get the card, you don’t have to return to check out books.
Back when I was a kid, we actually had to go to the library to check out a book, read a newspaper, or browse the latest periodicals. That is not true of today’s library. We have a home in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. Our local library is 30 minutes away. Luckily, I have only had to go there one time to get a library card to have access to the digital content. All libraries will differ slightly in the e-content that is offered, but all will have some type of digital database to check out electronic books. Many libraries will also have databases for audiobooks, music, movies, educational programs, and periodicals.
The database most libraries use is Libby by Overdrive. Libby is a great option for those who want to read or listen to books without leaving their RV. Libby is an app and computer program that allows you to borrow ebooks and audiobooks from your public library. If you have ever used Overdrive in the past, Libby is now its headliner.
All you need to browse for books is a valid library card. Once you have that, you can go to the website or app and connect to your library’s licensed content to browse the selection and borrow titles that interest you. Many of the books are in the Kindle format, so it is easy to read them through your Kindle app or Kindle device, such as the Kindle Paperwhite we will discuss later. Best of all, Libby automatically returns your books when they’re due, eliminating the worry about late fees!
Amazon Kindle Store
If you are not a member of a public library, the Amazon Kindle store is a great option for finding ebooks that you can purchase. Kindle offers a wide selection of books, both digital and physical.
For ebooks, Kindle also has a feature called Kindle Unlimited, which gives you unlimited access to over one million titles for a monthly fee. A subscription to Kindle Unlimited allows you to borrow from a large selection of digital books without due dates. As of the publishing of this article, a Kindle Unlimited subscription costs $9.99 a month, with the ability to cancel anytime, but you can start with a 30-day free trial to see if you like the selection. Unlimited is great for those who want to have access to a large selection of books without having to buy them all individually. We like this because you have the ability to read a lot of books for one low price. You can even read our book, Full-Time RV Finance, for free on Kindle Unlimited, or purchase a paperback copy on Amazon.
The other good thing about Kindle versus the library is that it is easy to get the newest books without waiting. If there is a title you are extremely excited to read, but it is not available through the library, the chances are good that you can get the e-version right away from the Kindle store. We do not like to spend a lot of money on books, but I will purchase a couple of ebooks per year at the Kindle store just because I really want to read them, and they are not available through the public library. Julie has a Kindle Unlimited membership and frequently uses it to read books unavailable through our local library.
Kindle Paperwhite E-Reader
The device we are currently using for our digital books is the Kindle Paperwhite e-reader. For many years, Julie and I both read on iPads. Julie had the iPad Mini, and I had a standard iPad. There were two problems with the iPad for us: one is that it is not as lightweight as the Kindle readers and the other is that it is hard to read in bright outdoor lighting situations. For those who want the best reading experience possible, we think the Kindle Paperwhite is the way to go.
The Kindle Paperwhite has a high-resolution display that makes text look crisp and clear. It also has built-in lights so you can read in any environment, even if there’s no natural light. The lighting is different than that found on an iPad, and it seems to me that it causes less eye fatigue allowing for longer reading sessions. The Kindle Paperwhite only weighs 6.4 ounces, which is very light. Best of all, the Kindle Paperwhite is very portable, so you can take it with you wherever you go. Finally, the Kindle Paperwhite has a battery life of up to six weeks, so you can read for hours without worrying about running out of power. I end up charging mine about once a month. Plus, the Kindle Paperwhite charges quickly, so you can get back to reading in no time.
For those long driving days, an interesting or captivating audiobook is a great way to make the time go by faster. If you enjoy reading, this is a great alternative for when you need your eyes for other tasks but still want to get that reading fix satisfied. Julie and I listen to audiobooks on our road trips, and it’s a great way to pass the time together while venturing to our next location. I was driving up the east coast yesterday and listened to one of the books in the series that the show Longmire is based on.
There are many ways that you can get audiobooks. First, you can purchase them from online retailers such as Audible (Amazon audiobook site). If you’d prefer to save money and check them out from your online library, you can so via the Libby app. Either way, you can listen to them on your phone, tablet, or other devices.
There is a great debate on whether or not audiobooks count as reading. I think it does. You are still using the parts of your brain that form images based on the words. Also, your imagination is working just as the same as if you are actually reading the words. If you are a non-fiction fan, it is a great way to learn new things while cruising down the road.
Need Paper in Your Hand?
For many lifelong readers, there is simply no substitute for having a traditionally bound book in your hand. If this describes you, don’t worry, there are still options that are suitable to traveling. Obviously you can still check out books from your local library if you’re going on a short trip, but what about extended or full-time travel?
In that case, we have two suggestions. The first is a leave one, take one display. We see these at most campgrounds, usually in the laundry room or the community center if they have one. There are also over 150,000 Little Free Libraries in towns around the world operating on the same concept: Take a book, share a book. You can find one near your current location by going to the Little Free Library website and clicking “search near me.”
A final option is to visit a used bookstore. These are also easy to find and they offer inexpensive used books. In addition, they often will accept your used books, typically for in-store credit that you can use to turn around and purchase new books.
Community for Book Lovers
Joining online book clubs and sites like Goodreads are two great ways to connect with other readers, discuss books, and get recommendations for new books to read.
Online book clubs are forums where people can come together and discuss books that they have read. A couple of great places to find them is on meetup.com or bookclub.com. Goodreads is a social networking site for book lovers. It allows you to create a profile, track the books that you are reading, and see what your friends are reading. You can also join groups based on your interests and connect with other readers who share your love of books.
We hope you enjoyed this article on how to read books while saving space and weight in your RV. Do you have any tips that we didn’t mention? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!
No matter what your pleasures are, there’s a solution for you. So don’t wait any longer. Start RVing and reading today!