Getting Books for Members

Image: EA Norway

Using Books in Your Group

Giving or lending out books related to effective altruism can be a great way to encourage members to dig more deeply into EA. CEA can provide groups funding to purchase their own books to lend or give away to members. (You can apply for that here.) Alternatively, for groups who are already being serviced by EA Books Direct, you can use their Airtable forms to have members order books, and these will be paid for by CEA. (EA Books Direct is currently not taking on new groups, and is in a transition phase.)

Here are a few ways you can make use of books in your group:

  • Create a small library with a variety of EA-related physical books. These books can be loaned out to group members and returned to your members or others in the community. The process of asking for the book back and asking for the member’s impression of the book can be new ways to prompt a one-on-one conversation with a newer group member. CEA is able to provide funding for a small library.

  • Giving books as part of fellowships or discussion groups that have books, or large sections of books, as part of the curriculum. CEA is usually able to provide books for these structured extended events. You can be flexible about the return of loaned books - if group members want to read the book again or pass it on to friends, then it is totally okay to have them keep the book.

  • Giving away books outside of discussion events. CEA may be able to fund these books too, but this usually depends on which group of people you plan to give the books to.

Note: There are pdf copies of published books available. However, they usually break copyright rules, so CEA would prefer that any required books be purchased legally.

Applying for Funding for Books

Before applying for funding, you can try asking your local or university library if they'll buy the books for their e-book library. Brown EA did this successfully, so it is probably worth a try.

If this doesn't work, you can apply for CEA's Group Support Funding and buy physical books or e-books to give out using the funds. There is currently no maximum number of books you can order and get funding for, although there may be a limited amount of copies you can buy at a time due to Amazon or bookstores running out of copies.

Groups will not be able to buy books in bulk via EA Books Direct. You can buy in bulk on your own, and CEA can give you funding to do so.

If you are unsure about the number of books you’ll need, choose a number slightly higher than your best guess. If you need more funding, we can put through more money quickly, and if you don’t need all the money, you can reimburse us, or roll the unused funds over to the group’s next application for funding.

Note: Most groups with a Community Building Grant should use their CBG activity funding to buy books for their group members to use. Get in touch with Catherine ( or on the EA Groups Slack) if you are unsure what to do.

Image: EA Sydney

Buying Books

If you are running a book club or fellowship, you can ask participants to choose which format they'd prefer - e-book, physical book, or audiobook. Make sure it is very easy for the fellows to make their choice. Alternatively, you can choose to offer just one format, which may reduce logistical complications on your end.

EA groups often offer to provide some or all of the following book formats:

  1. Physical copies. These work best if you can easily get the books to participants, the participants prefer physical books, and/or if you want to ask the participants to merely borrow the books over the course of the reading group. (However, if people want to hold on to the book to read it again or lend it to others, then feel free to let people keep the book).

    • If you're interested in physical copies:

      • You can order in bulk through a local bookstore or Amazon via CEA funding.

      • Ordering through EA Books Direct to ship to participants in multiple locations within the U.S. or U.K (This is available only if you've already been onboarded into their service - they're currently not taking new groups).

      • Shipping through Amazon to ship to multiple locations (i.e. people's houses). Note that you'll need delivery details, a phone number of the recipient, and in some countries, a form of ID.

      • You can also allow the participants to buy the book themselves and get reimbursed if they prefer, but we recommend not making this the default option.

    • eBooks. eBooks are one of the cheaper options available, and can be least difficult to ship, but note that many participants may be less likely to read an eBook rather than a physical book or an audiobook.

      • A few ways you can gift ebooks for participants:

        • Kindle: This generally only works for people with Amazon US accounts.

        • provides recipients with a voucher that they can redeem for an ePub, PDF, or access to the book in's own online reader. Some books aren’t available to buy from all countries due to publisher restrictions.

        • Google Play: You can buy an ebook ‘as a gift’ and email it to the participants. This only works if they are in the same country as you.

    • Audiobooks. While Audiobooks are more expensive than eBooks, we generally recommend buying them for participants who prefer this format.

      • Audible: More on how to give audiobooks as gifts.

      • If Audible doesn't work, you can gift a book on Gifts on cover a monthly subscription that can be used on any book, so we generally recommend Audible when possible to avoid recipients redeeming the subscription on the wrong book.