[READ] Millions of Free Ebooks

Category: Reference

Since the days of the Egyptian 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 travel and 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...

Get Your Free eBooks Here

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, FreeComputerBooks.com 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.

If you prefer to listen, that makes you an audiophile. There are several sites that offer free audio books. Check out LibriVox, and OpenCulture.

Have you used any of these free ebook or audiobook 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 "[READ] Millions of Free Ebooks"

Posted by:

05 Jun 2018

Bookbub focuses on Nook ereaders. It has free and low cost specials.

My local library had an ereader check-out program for a while. After borrowing one, most of my reading has been via ereader.

Posted by:

Renaud Olgiati
05 Jun 2018

As well as Gutenberg Australia, there is also a Gutenberg Canada which also operates under copyright laws less restrictive than those of the US and EU, and has books in both English and French.

Another good source of out-of-copyright works is the Internet Archive (which also stores pictures, films, sound recordings etc.)

Posted by:

John LaBella
05 Jun 2018

Bartleby is now a subscription service . :(

Posted by:

05 Jun 2018

Daily emails from bookbud.com list books of the type you express interest and available from amazon for kindle. Prices for single books and boxed sets range from free to 2.99

Posted by:

Louis Toscano
05 Jun 2018

The Directory of Open Access Journals is a good site for specific research: https://doaj.org/

Posted by:

05 Jun 2018

I suppose I am an old school bibliophile, to me holding the book and turning the pages are part of the experience.

I have a Kindle, with many books downloaded on it, but I can honestly say I have been unable to get involved in any book on it yet.

Even though I still need "to travel and pay for books" i.e. haunt Yard Sales and charity Thrift Stores to feed my three book a week addiction, I really don't believe I will ever love books on eReaders.

Every vacation I pack my Kindle, but day one always finds me searching for a purveyor of (real) books, and the Kindle is ignored.

Each to his own.

Posted by:

05 Jun 2018

I love reading the paper copies of books, too. However, arthritis has set in and I have problems holding a book for long periods of time. I love having my tablet to read. And, of course, it's much easier to travel with a single tablet than six or eight books!

I use the Philadelphia Library website (http://freelibrary.overdrive.com/). It's not free, but it is reasonably priced--$50/year. There's a limit of six books at a time and ten holds, but the wait is seldom long for a book.

Posted by:

Ken Heikkila
05 Jun 2018

BookBub emails a list of reduced price (usually $2.99 down to free) books everyday that includes offers from Amazon, Apple, Google and Kobo. The free and $0.99 ones are usually not well known authors, but the $1.99 and $2.99 are all pretty famous in their genres.

Posted by:

05 Jun 2018

A great free site for Kindle books: Freebooksy. I can set which genres I want and get a daily email with books based on them.

Posted by:

Janet K Cook
05 Jun 2018

I am an audiophile and love listening to books. I get them from NetLibrary through my US-based public library for free via Overdrive. I am associated with the US military and serve use their library, but most cities have similar contracts to provide e-books and audiobooks for free on a check-out for 2-3 weeks basis.

Posted by:

05 Jun 2018

I recommend the Internet Archive (www.archive.org) which "is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more." In particular, I use the American Libraries collection within it for old history, genealogy. and other books that are out of copyright.

Posted by:

Bob Greene
05 Jun 2018

Bob, this is one of the biggest "rabbit holes" you ever have passed along. Through your effort, 10(43rd power) hours of distraction have gone fully public.

Although I already knew of Project Gutenberg, Open Library is beyond amazing. With Open Library, I can find a classic text on political science-- one no longer in print-- in a matter of minutes.

Just one hour with the video side of this site is enough to foster a new appreciation for YouTube-- its relatively neat categorization, keeping selections neat and simple, by comparison.

Posted by:

06 Jun 2018

Wow - a quick Google search will uncover 500 bajillion online sources for free ebooks! I have been using http://www.loyalbooks.com/ - they offer multiple formats for their books, including audio for most (at least, most of the ones I've looked at). Multiple languages too, although I haven't browsed those to see the selections.

Posted by:

06 Jun 2018

I used to use Bookbub and Booksy; but found Booksends. It has more books listed daily and way more free ones. The latest one had seven FREE books, three $.99 ones and a couple that were 2.49 and a set of four for 3.99. They are like my previous newsletters in that they send the genres you ask for. I usually have a couple paper books going as well.

Posted by:

Bob Rambaldi
08 Jun 2018

You have wrong info on Project Gutenberg,,,does not have millions of works...As of 23 March 2018, Project Gutenberg reached 56,750 items in its collection of free eBooks.[4]

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