Get Your Free eBooks Here

Category: Reference

Since the days of the Pharaohs, libraries have offered access to the printed wisdom and folly of humanity, but only to “authorized personnel” in the beginning. Most people had to pay for books, and that was hard on budgets. But now the Internet makes available more good books, old and new, than one person can read in a lifetime. Here are a few examples of where you can find quality reads free of charge...

Millions of Free Ebooks

There has never been a better, easier, cheaper time to be a bibliophile. If you don’t know that word, that’s OK; this article is for people who like books, too. Here are five sources for free ebooks:

Project Gutenberg is the oldest free, open-source collection of literary works online. It was founded in 1971 by American author Michael S. Hart, who is sometimes credited as the inventor of ebooks. He himself typed into text files the words of public domain books to start the world’s first digital library. Volunteers all over the world joined in, and the Gutenerg Project grew to include millions of works. Today, Gutenberg works are available in plain text, HTML, PDF, EPUB, MOBI, and Plucker formats. It’s still all free, supported by donations.

Project Gutenberg Australia operates under copyright laws different from those in the U. S., so you can find titles here that are not in the public domain in the U. S.

Free Ebooks

Open Library contains almost three million free ebooks. Most are available for immediate reading via the Web, in PDF format, or in EPUB format (for portable e-reader devices). There's a smaller pool of several hundred thousand books, that are available under more restrictive terms, for copyright reasons. Many libraries contribute licenses that they own to Open Library, allowing OL patrons to borrow up to 5 of these books for 2 weeks each. When your borrowing period is up, you are no longer able to access the ebook files you borrowed. If OpenLibrary doesn't have the ebook title you want, you can use their WorldCat catalog to find a real-world library near you that has a copy available for borrowing.

Bartleby has to be the best source for online students, researchers or any other readers who need reference material. They have indexes by authors, titles or subject and access to both contemporary and classic works. Included are Harvard Classics, Gray's Anatomy with engravings, religious books, encyclopedias and other reference books. Also available are poetry, fiction and non-fiction. You can read these ebooks online, and search within the text.

Free Books on Amazon?

Amazon has a Kindle Classics library of free ebooks for the Kindle e-reader. Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo, Lewis Carroll, and many other authors familiar to every graduate of high school in the U. S. are available free of charge. Mark Twain’s “On the Decay of The Art of Lying” remains popular among government and public administration majors.

Amazon also has a Top 100 Free Best-Sellers collection. These are the best-selling books whose authors have generously (or shrewdly) made available free for a period of time. You won't find too many big-name authors here, but perhaps some of them will become household names in the near future. Look for books in this area that have lots of positive reviews. (There's a number next to the star rating that indicates how many reviews. Placing your mouse over the little down-arrow between the stars and the number will display a preview of the reviewers' comments.)

If you are a techie, offers a huge collection of free ebooks for Computers, Programming, Mathematics, Engineering. Choose from over a dozen top level categories, and over 200 sub-categories.

Finally, we have ManyBooks, which emphasizes tools for digital readers. Utilities that convert one ebook format to another are popular, as are open-source ebook readers for various platforms. Most of the site’s actual ebooks come from other sources such as Project Gutenberg.

And don't forget your local public library. If you are a member, you can often "borrow" ebooks for even new and popular titles. In order to abide by their contracts with publishing houses, the libraries must limit how many copies of a given ebook title can be on loan at once. So if you want a current best-seller, you may have to wait.

Whatever your taste in literature, there is likely an ebook about it out there someplace. Like I said, there has never been a better, easier, cheaper time to be a bibliophile. If you're still not sure what that word means, look it up in a free online dictionary.

Have you used any of these free ebook sources? Do you have another one you'd like to recommend? Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Get Your Free eBooks Here"

Posted by:

Frank Cizek
30 Mar 2015

TOO FUNNY, if it wasn't so true: "Mark Twain’s “On the Decay of The Art of Lying” remains popular among government and public administration majors."

I've used my local libraries access for free books & music for over a year. Now you've given us more sources. Thanks!

Posted by:

Marie-Doris Vien
30 Mar 2015

"Get Your Free Ebooks Here"

Thank You Bob for this article! I cannot be more happy ! Just love this. Thanks again!


Posted by:

30 Mar 2015

The science fiction publisher, Baen books, has a free library pf ebooks from its stable of authors. If you go to the site Baen dot com you'll be able to find the free library. It is not too complicated to download a book in a number of formats. There don't seem to be "hooks" that work to take your money or personal information. In sum, while Baen is a for profit operation, I have found it to be honest and simple to use.

Posted by:

30 Mar 2015

Don't forget BookBub at, great site that takes a survey of your reading interest and then sends a list of books tailored to your preferences.

Posted by:

Richard Christensen
30 Mar 2015

Thanks a lot for this excellent article Bob. Much appreciated. I am a bibliophile! I am wondering why patrons to our public library here in Toronto Ontario are unable to use their Kindle to sign out e books from our library system. It would appear that folks can use the Kobo with the Toronto Public library but the Kindle is not allowed. What are your thoughts on this matter?
Richard Christensen
Toronto Ontario

Posted by:

David Guillaume
30 Mar 2015

Yet another excellent article and most informative.
Well done Bob
David Guillaume

Posted by:

The Watcher
30 Mar 2015

WattPad is a great source for free indie books. Anyone who sings up can post their own stories for others to read, and many people post public-domain books on it. You can find some quality work there.

Posted by:

Bob Deloyd
30 Mar 2015

Baen Books has a nice selection of free books in different formats to download. I especially liked "1632" by Eric Flint.

Posted by:

30 Mar 2015

You've already been thanked for this article that to add my own seems superfluous. Regardless of that, thanks for all those great links.

Posted by:

Mister B
30 Mar 2015

Amazon actually has many thousands of Kindle books for free. This link finds them:,p_20:English,p_36:0-0,p_15=-domain&hidden-keywords=-domain%20-breakthrough%20English&hidden-keywords=-domain%20-breakthrough%20English&sort=paidsalesrank&kc=AG56TWVU5XWC2&tag=kwab-20&redirect=true

Posted by:

Steve Stephenson
31 Mar 2015

Here in UK, our libraries allow download to your PC via "Adobe Digitel Editions". The download format is EPUB. Most libraries tend to offer EPUB as the format for the downloads.

Ref: Kindle.
When your Kindle device is connected to a computer via USB, you will see three default folders. Here's a list of these folders and the file types recognized by Kindle devices: Documents: Kindle (.AZW, .AZW1). Text (.TXT), Unprotected Mobipocket (.MOBI, .PRC).
EPUB not compatible!

Ref Kobo.
When you look for books to read on your Kobo eReader Touch, look for books in EPUB, PDF, or any of the supported other formats.

Note: If you have eBooks in other formats you can sometimes use free applications like Calibre to convert them to EPUB, PDF, MOBI or AZW.

However there is an added problem, some if not all of the titles will have DRM. There are decryption apps available.
Then you will be able to use Calibre to convert and enable the titles to be transferred and to be read on most portable readers. Apple, Kindle, Android et al.
Hope this helps.

Posted by:

Martin Greenberg
31 Mar 2015

My wife has Macular Degeneration and while she does not use ebooks she does use audio books. If you are eligable, the Library of Congress through the states library system offers free audio books through there dedicated reader, that is available free for visually handicapped people. Check with your local library if you are interested.

Posted by:

31 Mar 2015

I have been using free for a couple of years.You can download to your phone and take ypur time reading it.

Posted by:

Catherine Fessy
31 Mar 2015

You can also try, and While some of the books they offer do overlap, the 3 sites are great resources for free and/or very cheap ebooks. And though a few of the books are obviously self-published and not well edited sometimes, I've found quite a few gems on these sites. You can refine your search to the types of books you enjoy, so you don't have to look at a long list each time you receive an email. Ereaderlove's books are all free, the other two offer some books for up to $5. Enjoy!

Posted by:

31 Mar 2015

Who needs a library? We can find all the information we need on your site. You and Leo can provide all the reading wee need. Thanks for a excellent site and as always a great article.

Posted by:

31 Mar 2015

This is my favorite search site for the Internet Archive - American Libraries:
I have downloaded hundreds of old histories and other out-of-copyright books used in my genealogy endeavors.

Posted by:

31 Mar 2015

Loved this - would be great if you did the same for AUDIO BOOKS! thanks

Posted by:

tom fowler
01 Apr 2015

the link to ManyBooks generated an AVG malware alert after completeing step 2 (a download manager) which it cleaned, but the resulting file then wouldn't open {win7home prem-spk1-firefox 36.04}- and its needed to download the book - bummer

EDITOR'S NOTE: What do you mean by "step 2"? I was able to download several books from ManyBooks without a download manager.

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Get Your Free eBooks Here (Posted: 30 Mar 2015)
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