Researching for a book is hard, especially when you're cash poor and motivation rich. If you've ever gone looking for a specific book, only to find that Amazon wants $300 for it, you're not alone. That's why I'm recommending some free and cheap alternatives to textbooks you'd need to sell an organ to purchase.
Your Local University Library
When I was looking for a copy of The Viking Way by Neil Price, it hadn't yet been reprinted. These days, a copy is less than €50 after shipping but a few years ago, it was priced at a couple hundred. So I took a chance and checked Belgium's library systems. And against all odds, the University of Gent had a copy. Non-students could go to the library, purchase a lending card for €5 per year, and have access to all the materials. It was a fantastic bargain!
Even if your local library branch doesn't have what you're looking for, they may have access to a network of libraries that does. Most libraries have an online catalogue to browse. If you can't find it, ask a librarian if there are other resources for you to try.
This site can be as expensive as Amazon, but it depends on what you're looking for. They work with used booksellers from all over the world and they might have access to the hard-to-locate but affordable books that you're looking for. Used books are an eco-friendly, cost-effective way to study up, and websites like Abebooks remove the barrier of being stuck with whatever your local used bookstore has on hand. Sifting through their collection by keyword might also expose you to some new books you've never heard of.
Pro-tip. Once you locate the book you want, try searching that specific bookseller's inventory for other keywords related to your topics. There isn't an Abebooks warehouse and each seller is shipping from their own location around the world. If you can find most of your books from the same bookseller, you'll be able to combine shipping.
Google Scholar looks almost identical to the regular search engine, but focuses on scholarly works such as research papers. It's a great way to remove the general internet from the pile of information you need to sift through. It also may include entire books on the subjects of your choice or may give snippets from books, which can help you decide if purchasing that book is right for you.
There are some great guides out there on how to most effectively search using Google Scholar and I really recommend giving it a try.
This is one of my newer research discoveries. The website is jam-packed with interesting papers on all sorts of topics. The more specifically you search, the better results you'll get. Some of the navigation frustrates me, because I come across articles that seem more like the junk mail my aunt sends me than an actual academic paper, but I've found some incredible articles there as well. Unfortunately, some are hidden behind a paywall that wants €18 a month or €89 per year for Premium access, but it's up to you to decide if it's worth that cost. You can always test that theory in the Free Zone first.
Hold on, I know, I know. I don't mean get your info on Twitter, I've seen that place, it's a mess. But I have managed to use it as a hub to find a lot of interesting accounts that are into the same subjects as I am, who either create content I'm interested in, or tweet about what they've found. I've added a lot of books to my research pile because they popped up on my Twitter feed from Norse myth enthusiast accounts. It takes a lot of trial and error because not everyone is as reliable as they appear, and confidence =/= knowledge, but it can be a great avenue for opening yourself up to resources you previously had no idea existed.
And that's the list! There are lots of great ways to research, so if you have some interesting additions to this list, feel free to leave a comment here or on my socials! If you haven't signed up for my newsletter, you can find that on the front page! You don't want to miss all the very cool book news!
Until next time!