In my current series on higher Christian Education we have talked about the expenses related to professional ministry. In my first post we covered the overall financial obligation of seminary and professional ministry. In a follow up post we dug deeper into practical ways to get similar knowledge without the expense. I suppose you could call it armchair theology. I like to keep higher Christian Education as free as possible. How about a proof text to back up my agenda?
(Mt. 10:8) Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
Granted, publishers and authors need to make a living off of their work, I don’t like paying for books. The realm of Christian publishing has increasingly become a niche market where books get churned out of the mill strictly for profit. Being selective of the material we consume is important. Unfortunately the cost issue will come up time and time again.
So if cost is the core contention in this series, let’s look at some options for securing free theological books that will make your bookshelves look smart! I will list a few suggestions that I use regularly to secure great books at zero cost.
Book reviews: This is my primary source of free books. Book reviewing has its pros and cons. The primary pro is obviously the books are free. The most significant con is the need to produce reviews that are substantial and actually benefit the publisher for providing you the book copy. There are several things you can do to get these books.
Write the publisher of the book you are interested in. Ask them if they will provide you with a reviewers copy and ensure them a post on your blog, Facebook, or other media outlets at your disposal.
Cruise the blogosphere! Zondervan publishes a blog with weekly Wednesday giveaways at their academic blog site Koinonia. You are bound to get a great title here and there if you are diligent in entering the giveaways. Follow popular blogger websites like Tim Challies, who posts a regular blog featuring free and low cost book deals at least once a week.
Join services that specifically targeted to bloggers interested in reviewing books. Here are just a few of many:
NetGalley is home to a very large number of publishers. They cover every genre in the publishing realm. They also provide copies early before the items are even in print. Although the copies are digital, completed reviews are often awarded with print copies if its in the publishers description to do so. Works with most popular E-readers as well.
Blogging for Books is the reviewing program developed by Waterbrook Multnomah. Ebooks and hard copies are available in limited quantities to reviewers in exchange for reviews on their websites.
BookSneeze is the reviewing program developed by Thomas Nelson. Hard copies and Ebooks are available in to bloggers/readers in exchange for “honest reviews”.
I also keep my eye out for free books on the discard shelf at local libraries. If your thrifty, you can even find low-cost deals at garage sales, inconspicuous used book shops, second hand stores, and even local churches who discard older books indiscriminately. Sadly, they often discard older gems in favor of newer and more “progressive” titles.
While this may not put all the best titles on your bookshelves for free, it is a great start. Honestly, it is also a significant way for you to afford that library that will have all your friends thinking you are a scholar, even if you haven’t read most of them!
Next, we’ll talk about Bible Software. Finding good sources for bible study while expanding your theological library digitally.
This post is part of a series on higher Christian Education: