Wanna read books for free? Here’s how.

For those of you who are avid readers, you might want to investigate a service called NetGalley. I have been using them for seven years and have read hundreds of books for free. The only catch? I have to read them on my Kindle (or Nook or equivalent device) and then write a short review that I then post to Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, and other bookselling websites.

It is a terrific service which publishes the pre-publication versions of books, which used to be called galleys back in the days of Gutenberg, to a select audience of what they call “professional readers.” These versions often have small editing mistakes but are otherwise close to the actual text that you will see in the finished book.

The workflow is as follows. Once you join the service, you will get weekly notifications in your email about upcoming new books. Sometimes there is a short description, and you can click on that and get a longer one that will give you an idea if you are interested in reading the book. The service is used by both new authors and established ones alike, and there are tens of thousands of readers and authors using the service. Some books are immediately available for download; some will require the publisher to approve your request. Sometimes I get turned down, but usually within a day or so I have a new book waiting for me in my NetGalley account. I then send the digital file to my Kindle reader, and within minutes I can be reading a new book. Pretty neat, this whole internet thing, right?

I would say over the past several years I go through phases where I read more books on my Kindle than in print, and then the reverse. Given that bookstores have been mostly closed for browsing under the pandemic, I have gone back to using my Kindle more.

The NetGalley service keeps track of when the book is actually available for sale on the book ecommerce sites and sends you a tickler so you can post your review accordingly. That appeals to me, because I like to be in the first batch of folks posting my review.

There is a wide range of books available on the service, and this also includes audiobooks as well as the traditional printed text. You can set your subject matter preferences and other parameters for your account. If you don’t want to wait for the weekly notifications, you can browse for new titles at any time.

If you really like a book and want to get to interview the author, NetGalley will help facilitate that relationship. They also make it very easy to take your review and get it put on the bookselling sites with a couple of clicks.

As I said, the service is free for readers. They make their money from publishers (and self-published authors) who pay a fee to post their galleys on the service for a specific time period. The fees vary from a single book for $450 for six months to discounts for multiple books for publishing houses or members of various publishing associations.

I will be giving a seminar on NetGalley in September for the St. Louis Publishers Association. Email me if you are interested in seeing this presentation.

1 thought on “Wanna read books for free? Here’s how.

  1. Hi David. Will the seminar on NetGalley be online? If so, I would be interested in watching it. I am a writer as well as a reader so this does interest me.
    Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    Fred Henderson

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.