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Like newspaper coupons, hardbound and paperbacks may slowly be dwindling into a thing of the past, just another collateral of the digital age, but books are accessible now more than ever, thanks to e-readers like Amazon Kindles. Ebook retailers typically charge a fee for popular and recent titles, as a brick-and-mortar bookstore would. But it’s also easy to find free books online if you know where to look.
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Here’s a list of places to find free books online.
1. Kindle Store
Amazon’s Kindle is one of the main players in the ebook and e-reading space, which is unsurprising considering Amazon’s roots in selling books. While most of their products and services are paid (Kindle e-readers can cost a pretty penny depending on the model, and Kindle Unlimited allows subscription-based access to Amazon’s database of books), the company also provides access to many free titles. Simply search for “free books” in the search bar under Kindle Store, or browse through categories like Top 100 Free ebooks on the website.
Related: Check out the major Colleen Hoover book sale going on at Amazon.
2. Kobo Bookstore
Kobo is, arguably, the other primary player and top-of-mind choice when it comes to ebooks and e-readers. The Rakuten brand also offers a selection of free titles, a supposed “thank you” gift for its loyal readers. But it also poses as a good introduction for potential customers, as their Free eBook Downloads page is neatly sorted into categories like First in Series, Editor’s Pick, Romance, and Mystery & Thriller.
If you want to support independently published works, Smashwords offers a vast selection as “the world’s largest distributor of indie books.” Their website provides a ton of filter options to help you narrow down your results based on your exact preferences: categories (including fiction, nonfiction, essays, and screenplays), newest, bestsellers, highest rated, free or priced, word count, and part of a series or a set. You can even check if the author has other released works on the platform.
BookBub is a free literature promotional service that works with ebook readers and retailers, as well as thousands of authors and publishers, to help promote their books. Here’s how they work: After signing up, you will choose what types of ebooks you want to receive notifications for (i.e., romance, mystery, cookbooks, etc.). Then, you will get tailored recommendations on free and highly discounted ebooks from BookBub’s editorial team. These may include bestsellers, mainstream titles, and hidden gems. You may also opt to be notified of discounts and pre-orders for your favorite authors.
BookBub does not “host” or own the books on its website, but directs you to retailers like Kindle. Still, it’s a good tool to find books you may not have known before and to know where they are free or on sale.
Like BookBub, Freebooksy is a free literature promotion service. However, it differentiates itself by focusing on completely free ebooks. They pull free deals from all the major ebook retailers, ranging from Kindle to Apple Books, so sign up via your email to get these recommendations in your inbox. The Freebooksy website has a Today’s Free Ebooks tab, but you can also check the Discover tab with filters like “Best of…,” “Find a Series,” and “Explore by Genre.”
Want to go way back with the classics — books that were written several years back? Here’s where you should head next.
6. Project Gutenberg
Since 1971, Project Gutenberg has served avid readers by digitizing and preserving titles that are no longer subject to copyright and may be legally distributed. It’s a volunteer-run digital archive that hosts more than 60,000 books and documents, which can be accessed by users for free. If you’ve ever looked for a free online copy of iconic classic literature, Project Gutenberg is likely to be your top search result.
The website allows you to search for specific titles or authors in their search bar, and browse through “bookshelves” which are alphabetically arranged in categories like Crime, Education, Religion, and Wars. You can also check the Frequently Downloaded section.
7. The Online Books Page
Managed by the University of Pennsylvania, The Online Books Page is a portal that provides users with links to where to download free ebooks. Their selection boasts more than three million online books. However, unlike Project Gutenberg, the site does not own or host any of the content on the website itself. Rather, they direct the users to the main sources.
Don’t let the outdated website fool you, though! Many might think it hasn’t fully loaded because it looks more like a hyperlinked Word document than a website, but it remains frequently updated as per the subheading below the website title.
8. Open Library
Run by the Internet Archive, which is a non-profit library for free media, Open Library is an “open, editable library catalog” that aims to create a webpage for every book made in history. Like Wikipedia, users can contribute and edit information in the catalog. You can browse Open Library by subject, author’s name, or lists created by members. They also have sections for Trending titles, Collections, and K-12 Student Library.
One of the cool things about Open Library, which you don’t find in most other free online book providers, is that it allows you to borrow free online library books, organize your books into shelves, and create a reading log. These features make it a good partner in tracking your progress if reading more is one of your goals.
Ebooks.com is an ebook retailer that offers a wide range of fiction and non-fiction titles for purchase, but they also have a selection of free ebooks. These mainly consist of classics. It prides itself on being the only independent ebook retailer that sells to every country in the world. The books are hosted on the site, so you download the files from the website itself, instead of being directed to another portal.
A big differentiating factor of Ebooks.com is that it has its own online reader (browser-based) and an ebook reader (app-based), so you can seamlessly read the books downloaded from the platform. Ebooks.com provides ebooks in various formats, such as PDF and Epub.
10. Standard Ebooks
Standard Ebooks prides itself on quality over the number of ebooks hosted on the platform. This volunteer-based effort is centered on providing not just free ebooks, but rather delivering a quality experience through consistent cover art design, typography, and implementing the best practices for ebooks and programming.
Free online books from Standard Ebooks can be sorted based on the subject, release date, author name, ease of reading, and length. Users can also browse by searching for certain keywords in the search bar.
11. Open Culture
Open Culture is a hub for free educational and cultural media, including free online courses, free movies, free language lessons, and yes, even free books! The site serves as a portal to approximately 1,000 free audiobooks encompassing fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. It also has a curated selection of about 800 free ebooks.
As it’s a portal for these resources, it does not own or store any of the content on its site. Many of the links are descriptive, such as “Kindle + Other Formats” for ebooks and “Free iTunes” or “Free MP3” for audiobooks.
Storynory is a wonderful resource for parents and teachers who want to introduce young minds to the magic of stories. The website hosts audiobooks of iconic fairy tales, classic authors, myths and world stories, educational stories, poems, and original stories. The audiobooks may be listened to on the website itself but can also be downloaded in MP3 format for offline listening.
Related: Check out how you can get free books for kids.
If you need free online textbooks, Free-Ebooks.net is a good place to start. It has a selection of academic books ranging in topics like anthropology, communications, economics, gender studies, mathematics, philosophy, psychology and culture, science, and more. There are also textbooks for business, computer sciences, engineering, law, science, and mathematics. Signing up to be a member entitles you to download five free books a month.
While there’s nothing wrong with a Barnes & Noble shopping spree, you can access endless free books online in just a few clicks. Happy Reading!