If you’ve ever dreamed of a world where someone would pay you to read books, we’ve got good news! There are multiple ways to get paid to read books, whether you make a career out of it or just do it to pick up some extra cash. In fact, these options can be the perfect choice for teachers looking to change careers or those who need to make a little money on the side. Here’s how to live the dream.
Can you really get paid to read books?
Short answer: Yes, you can! Longer answer: You can make money, but you may not be able to make a living. If you’re looking to get paid to read books as a career, you’ll probably need to pursue jobs in publishing, which can be hard to come by. Expect to earn a related degree and work your way up from the very bottom. Penguin Random House has much more information about how to get into publishing here.
It’s much easier to get paid to read books if you’re willing to do some smaller jobs instead. Many companies will pay you to write book reviews, though only small amounts at first. Plus, there are other gigs, like audiobook narrator or book translator, which you might be able to pick up on an as-needed basis.
One note: Many people dream of becoming librarians because they can’t imagine anything better than spending their days surrounded by books. And while there are many rewards to becoming a librarian, getting paid to read isn’t usually one of them. This varies, of course, depending on your position. But in general, how much time does the average librarian spend reading on the job?
“The answer is zero,” shares one former librarian. “Unless you count reading spine labels as you’re shelving.” So if you’re looking to make money just for reading, take a look at one of the jobs below instead.
What types of jobs are available for avid readers?
Whether you’re looking for a career or a side gig, here’s what you’ll want to know about some of the most common reading jobs.
Pay range: $5–$50 per review for beginners
This is one of the easiest ways to get paid to read books. There are a variety of companies that will pay you for your thoughtful reviews, though the per-job pay isn’t amazing. If you’re a prolific reader, though, this can be a nice way to pick up some extra money regularly. Check out our list of companies that pay for reviews below.
If you’re an accomplished reviewer, you might consider pitching your reviews to bigger outlets, like newspapers, magazines, or websites. You could receive hundreds of dollars for your reviews—if they’re published. Learn how to pitch an article to a magazine here.
Publishing Acquisitions Editor
Pay range: $47,000–$85,000 per year
Not all jobs in publishing actually require a lot of reading, but acquisitions editors definitely spend their days turning pages. Their main job is to read manuscripts from authors (solicited or unsolicited) and make recommendations about which of them to publish. These jobs aren’t necessarily glamorous, but they’re a bookworm’s dream. And as you might imagine, they can be very hard to land. Find out more about becoming an acquisitions editor here.
Publishing Copy Editor/Proofreader
Pay range: $41,000–$96,000 per year
If you’ve got an eye for detail, these could be the jobs for you. Copy editors work with a book while it’s still in progress, reviewing for consistency, errors, continuity, factuality, and legal liability. They help authors make changes as needed throughout the editing process.
Proofreaders review a final copy of a manuscript before it goes to press. A proofreader compares the edited manuscript with the proof copy, word for word. They catch any last spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors, and fix any awkward word or page breaks. Discover the differences between copy editors and proofreaders here.
Pay range: $10–$500 per finished hour
Audiobooks are very popular, and those with strong voice-acting skills can make good money by recording them. Some narrators even do their own recording, editing, and more. For fiction books, the process often involves multiple narrators, with a regular audition process. You may work at home if you have the right equipment, or you may need to come into a recording studio.
Note that audiobook narrators are usually paid per “finished hour,” which refers to the length of the audio files you record. For an 18-hour audiobook, you may spend double that or more in preparation, rehearsal, and recording, so figure your salary accordingly. Want to get started working in audiobook narration? Look into ACX, Audible’s audiobook creation marketplace.
Pay range: $22,000–$100,000 per year
Many books are translated into multiple languages and sold around the globe. If you’ve got strong world language skills, you could make money by translating those books for publishers or authors.
This job involves more than just word-for-word translation, since many words and phrases don’t have direct cognates. Translators have to use their knowledge of language to ensure the translated book retains the same tone as the original, making it a real art form. See tips on becoming a literary translator here.
Companies That Pay You to Read and Review Books
You won’t make a bundle writing book reviews for any of these companies, but it can be a steady way to earn some much-needed extra cash. Some require experience and an application process, while others are easier to get in on. Here are the details.
Pay rate: Not specified
BookBrowse asks that applicants have some experience in writing the types of reviews they’re looking for. Their website says reviewers write about one review a month for “a byline and modest payment.” See if BookBrowse is a good fit for you here.
Pay rate: $15 per review (~150 words)
Libraries depend on publications like Booklist to help them choose new additions to their shelves. The pay is low, but the reviews are also quite short and you’ll receive a byline credit. Learn more about writing for Booklist here.
Pay rate: $50 per review (~350 words)
Kirkus hires reviewers for Kirkus Indie, the book review magazine’s section dedicated to self-published authors. If you’re interested, find out more here.
Online Book Club
Pay rate: $5–$60 per review
For the first review, OnlineBookClub.org gives you the book for free. After that, you’re eligible for paid opportunities (which also include free books). Learn how the process works and apply to be a reviewer here.
Pay rate: $25 per review (~200 words)
This publishing powerhouse looks for reviewers who can handle books across a wide array of subjects, from cookbooks to psychology, romance to sci-fi. Submit an application via their website to be considered for review gigs.
The US Review of Books
Pay rate: Not specified (~250–300 words)
The US Review of Books values professional criticism, so they’re looking for a more formal tone than some. They ask for a resume, sample of work, and two professional references, so the process is a bit more intensive too. Find out how to write reviews for this company here.