READING WHILE STUCK AT HOME

Get books without leaving home

From e-books to free audiobooks to delivery deals, here are ways restless readers can get their literary fix

Readers can support local bookstores by taking advantage of delivery discounts on orders of physical books. Audiobook providers Audible and Storytel Singapore are also offering hundreds of titles to stream for free.
Readers can support local bookstores by taking advantage of delivery discounts on orders of physical books. Audiobook providers Audible and Storytel Singapore are also offering hundreds of titles to stream for free. PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO
Actor Patrick Stewart regularly posts Instagram videos of himself reading poetry.
Actor Patrick Stewart regularly posts Instagram videos of himself reading poetry. PHOTO: SIRPATSTEW/INSTAGRAM

So you want to stay home during the coronavirus pandemic, but you want new books to keep you company.

Fret not - there are myriad ways of stocking up on fresh reads without leaving your house.

When the outbreak hit Singapore, local independent bookshop BooksActually saw in-store sales drop by 30 to 40 per cent.

Its online sales, however, went up by 10 per cent.

Last Wednesday, owner Kenny Leck started offering free worldwide delivery for purchases of at least three books.

It is a gamble: shipping costs can be punitive, though Mr Leck is in talks with a new logistics partner.

The offer runs until April 10.

"We are calculating to see if it'll result in a loss," says Mr Leck, 41, who just dispatched three of Ovidia Yu's Crown Colony mysteries to New Zealand.

"If it does not, we will extend it. We thought it'd be something nice to do for our international supporters."

For the housebound reader, get your books from these places.


1.PHYSICAL BOOKS

Few things can replace the comfort of holding a physical book in your hands.

There are the usual e-commerce options such as Amazon and Book Depository, though delivery times may be longer than usual due to an increased demand.

Instead, consider supporting your local bookstore.

 

Times Bookstores' titles are available on platform GoGuru, which offers free local delivery within three to five working days.

Its clearance section has books going for up to 45 per cent off.

Books Kinokuniya also has its own online store with free local delivery for purchases of more than $35.

Independent bookshops and publishers are also in on the act, from Mr Leck's BooksActually to publisher Epigram Books, which is offering a 19 per cent "Covid-19" discount at its online store and free local delivery throughout next month.

LocalBooks.sg, an online store that specialises in Singaporean books, also offers free local delivery within seven to 10 days.


2. E-BOOKS

Besides the e-books one can buy on the Amazon Kindle e-reader, there is also a growing selection of home-grown titles available from publishers such as Ethos Books and Straits Times Press.

For the academically minded, Cambridge University Press has made more than 700 of its textbooks free for download to students through university libraries.

There are also free digital libraries such as Project Gutenberg, which has more than 60,000 books - mostly older works for which the United States copyright has expired - and Scribd, which lets you read for free for 30 days.

The National Library Board has more than 725,000 e-books and audiobooks in its collection, which readers can borrow on the Libby app.


3. AUDIOBOOKS

Audiobook platform Storytel Singapore is giving everyone 30 days' free access to its entire collection of more than 180,000 titles, for which a user would normally have to pay $9.90 a month.

These include bestsellers and classics, as well as local titles such as Teo You Yenn's essay collection This Is What Inequality Looks Like, narrated by presenter Anita Kapoor.

To help parents keep their kids entertained if they cannot go to school, audiobook giant Audible has released hundreds of children's titles for free, from A.A. Milne's Winnie The Pooh books to Ransom Riggs' Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children series.

 
 

Also available are classics read by celebrities, such as Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre read by Thandie Newton and L.M. Montgomery's Anne Of Green Gables read by Rachel McAdams.

Since March 23, popular children's author David Walliams has been releasing one audio story a day.

There will be 30 stories all told, each available for a day.


4. POETRY

Poetry is a balm in any crisis and there are many free poems available online, from Poetry Foundation to Poetry SG, a database of Singapore poems.

Singapore Poetry Writing Month kicks off its Plague Edition tonight over Facebook.

 

For the month of April, participants are challenged to write a poem a day, with new prompts released nightly.

Take part or lurk and read - all are welcome.

If a sonnet a day keeps your blues away, head over to Sir Patrick Stewart's Instagram account, where the eminent British thespian is doing a reading of a Shakespeare sonnet every day.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 31, 2020, with the headline 'Get books without leaving home'. Subscribe