Where to Find Free eBooks

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.

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.)

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.

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 "Where to Find Free eBooks"

Posted by:

Brandon jones
27 Sep 2013

Another great site is http://onehundredzeros.com/.

Posted by:

Ken Mitchell
27 Sep 2013

If you're a science fiction fan, the Baen Books website offers a number of free titles including some works from SF masters.


The idea is, you'll read one book for free and get hooked on the author's style or characters. It's a great marketing tool.

Posted by:

Carl Pappert
27 Sep 2013

BookBub.com sells cheaply to make money, but also has lots of books free for Kindle. They also provide a daily email of free books. Not exactly top of the line authors, but I've had a few very good books from them.

Posted by:

27 Sep 2013

Thanks for the great resources!

A personal favorite is www.bookbub.com

I get an email daily with free to pretty darned cheap e books. (You can set what formats, what categories, etc. on their website/your account.)

There's usually Kindle format, but often others as well.

I've found some wonderful free/cheap reads there.
Many popular, current, etc.

Posted by:

J. B. Van Wely
27 Sep 2013

Also FreeBookSifter.com

A lot of publishers (Baen Books comes to mind) offer free ereader-formatted older books, particularly the first book of a series. Check individual publisher web sites.

Posted by:

Tom McElvy
27 Sep 2013

While not exactly the stuff you have in the article, there are several sites that aggregate free and low cost e-books. they offer daily updates, etc. I have loaded up my library with these goodies!


Hope that helps!
Tom McElvy
Virginia Beach VA

Posted by:

27 Sep 2013

Free e-Books:

(1) BOOKBUB.com Choose your categories. Books are either FREE or at SHARPLY DISCOUNTED prices. You are emailed 3 or 4 choices each day.

(2) DailyLit.com Many free e-books on this Web site. They send you the books in short installments (you choose the days and times you want to read). Rod on any computer or mobile device.

(3) WARNING: Book-Bot.com is a phishing expedition according to McAfee.

Posted by:

27 Sep 2013

Unfortunately, it's definitely a 50-50 chance in a free ebook that you get a soppy bodice-ripper or a poorly edited choppy-sentence book with author's pet message (religious, political or social). Good thing they are free because they are easy to delete. On the other hand, I have come across a few good reads. Thanks for the listed sites.

Posted by:

Nancy McClements
27 Sep 2013

Most libraries provide a wide range of current (in-copyright) books in a variety of e-formats. Usually a library card registration is all that you need to access novels, biographies, handbooks, poetry, dictionaries, guidebooks, etc. Find your library at http://www.librarydir.org/>

Posted by:

27 Sep 2013

Thank you for this list, Bob. I keep buying eBooks and like them very well, but there is a problem with them. I am shocked that these recorded books are not made available to all readers. It just makes sense to me that companies would be wiser to make both ends available to a wider audience of shoppers - both the hardware and the software ends. Right now, blind and visually impaired high school and college students (and some other non-print readers) are running into big educational barriers because teachers and professors assign eBooks which require use of eBook hardware (Kindle, Nook, etc.) BUT many eBooks are not accessible because the machines are not useable by a blind/VI reader or are only partly useable (no access to bookmarks and the other features all the other students are using to be better students). The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the US Department of Education say this is illegal and I am sure some big lawsuits are coming in the near future.

Posted by:

27 Sep 2013

I second Nancy McClements' comment. Public Libraries offer eBooks and e-audiobooks that can be downloaded to your phone, Kindle or whatever. I use them a lot, especially for audiobooks.

Posted by:

Renaud Olgiati
28 Sep 2013

You missed Gutenberg Canada !

Posted by:

28 Sep 2013

Just a little more information on Nancy's post. Your local library has probably spent a good potion of their budget for ebook services for newly published titles. Check your local library to see if they use Overdrive or 3M Cloud library for ebooks, or Oneclick Digital for eAudio. (Overdrive also offers eAudio as well as downloadable movies) Some library's also offer magazines through Zinio. And their databases have a wealth of additional books and magazines.

Posted by:

29 Sep 2013

Another is: http://www.ereaderiq.com. It lists free Amazon books, but you can narrow it down to your preferences. It's a bookseller, and he's hoping if you like you will buy from him. He shows free books from Amazon, that many times are not in the the Top 100 Free for a particular genre.

Thanks for the list of other free sites too.

Posted by:

29 Sep 2013

Don't leave out audiobook sites like

Posted by:

M Dewey
30 Sep 2013


Posted by:

09 Oct 2013

I really like free ebooks. Thanks for all these great websites, but for many sites registration is required (which I don't like). I just found a great website with free ebook sites:


For each site they show how many free ebooks they offer, which categories and if registration is required or not.

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