Cheap reads: How to save money on your beach blockbusters this year

Lighten your reading load this summer without hurting your wallet

If you can’t find the title you want on Borrow Box – and you’re in possession of a tablet, smartphone or Kindle – then you could just buy it through the Kindle app

If you can’t find the title you want on Borrow Box – and you’re in possession of a tablet, smartphone or Kindle – then you could just buy it through the Kindle app


If there has been one somewhat unexpected downside of airlines’ decision to start charging travellers for their luggage, it must be the impact on book lovers’ choice of reading for their summer holidays.

Yes, since the introduction of hefty travel charges – Ryanair is charging between €25-€40 for a 20kg bag this summer on routes across Europe each way (plus up to €12 for a check-in size bag) for example, while Aer Lingus is €40 each way for a larger bag – we’ve all got much better at packing. Where once, you could have happily filled half a suitcase with books you might or might not deign to read, now even the most prolific of readers have had to rein in their desires, and forego that historical tome or science fiction trilogy in favour of creating space for swimsuits and sun-cream.

Some people will still forgo an extra pair of shoes in order to squeeze in a couple of “real” books – after all, you don’t have to worry about sand messing it up. If you’re one of these you could check out offers such as Dubray’s buy one get one half price deal. Many of the rest us, however, simply no longer have the space.

Into the breach then, come electric devices, which you can load up with books to keep you going from a weekend to a month. And if you take a little bit of time setting them up this summer, you’ll not only be able to bring a bountiful choice of reading with you – you’ll also save money.

Your local library

Yes, you might be rightly nervous of checking out a book and bringing it abroad with you – not to mind the impact on the weighing scales – but if you have a library card, and a tablet, now is the time to download Borrow Box. This platform is now available in libraries across the country, including Dublin city, Dún Laoghaire, Louth, Cork city, Limerick city and Galway city to name just a few, and allows you to download an app on to your tablet (android or iPad). Once installed – you’ll need your library card number and pin for this – you’ll immediately have access to some 13,000 books, as well as thousands of audio books, and the selection includes recent bestsellers such as This is Going to Hurt and Eleanor Oliphant, as well as Sally Rooney’s two novels. Start downloading or ordering now, however, if you’ve a particular title in mind; Emily Ruskovich’s recent prize winning Idaho isn’t available until October, for example.

You’ll also find most of the big hits for kids, including those by David Walliams and Jacqueline Wilson. Books can be downloaded when you have access to broadband and read offline thereafter; and if the title you want isn’t available, you can order it. Best of all, perhaps, you can return and take out new books all through your holiday.

But there is a downside; the platform only works on tablets, which means that it is not possible to download it on to your Kindle. So reading while lying on your sun lounger may not be possible, due to the glare of the sun on the device. Similarly, the bright light can put off some readers, but this can be mitigated by a pair of blue light glasses.

And, if you’re bringing your tablet with you, and you frequently stock up on magazines at the airport, why not keep your cash and download another app with your library card? RB Digital Magazines describes itself as the “world’s largest newstand” and can be downloaded to your Apple or android tablet or smartphone. You can check out an unlimited number of magazines – there are currently more than 250 available – and keep them in your account for as long as you wish. For newspapers, you can download Pressreader, which includes The Irish Times. So no more paying €10 in the local librarie or giornalaio for that English magazine or newspaper.

Or how about the kids or younger adults among you? Another option is RBdigital Comics, which again be downloaded on to your tablet, and includes a wide variety of comics, including those from Marvel.


As good as the above services are however, there will be always be that book that you really must read. If you can’t find it on Borrow Box, and you’re in possession of a tablet, smartphone or Kindle, then you could just buy it through the Kindle app.

But you could also consider Kindle Unlimited. For £7.99 (€8.93) a month, this option will give you access to over 1 million books, as well as thousands of audio books and magazines. But be warned; many of the books available on this option are so-called Amazon Exclusives, which means they’re not available elsewhere, so your preferred titles may not be there. Best then to opt for a 30-day free trial – just remember to cancel it when your holiday is over if you don’t want to keep it up.

You could also consider borrowing a book from Amazon. If you’ve already signed up to Amazon Prime, which gives you free shipping as well as access to Amazon’s TV shows, you can access the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, which gives access to 1,000 books. Again however, you might find the choice limited; you’ll find Harry Potter but again a large selection of self-published books you might never have heard of.

You can also opt for a 30-day free trial for Prime to check it out before committing. Again, just remember to cancel if you don’t want to continue.