[SUMMER READING] Millions of 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 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, or 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 to keep you busy this summer...

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 Gutenberg Project grew to include over 60,000 free ebooks. You can use the Bookshelves option to browse by genre, age group, or topic. Today, Gutenberg works are available in plain text, HTML, PDF, and several mobile device 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 over twenty million book listings. 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.

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. Among the titles you can find here are "A Tale of Two Cities" and "Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea". 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.

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.

Free-ebooks.net offers thousands Of free eBooks from the "rising stars of the writing world." You can find Fiction, Non Fiction, Romance, Sci-Fi, Self Help, Business and other topics.

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. Even if their doors are closed, 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 "[SUMMER READING] Millions of Free Ebooks"

Posted by:

25 Jun 2020

I use Freebooksy.com. Everyday it has a variety of books, fiction and non-fiction, available for free. It's a good way to check out a new author to see if you might enjoy their books. Then, lots of times, if it's a series, the series is available through Kindle Unlimited (if you have that) or for a small fee. You can select the genres you want to see or simply check out all of the selections every day. Ranges from kids books to teen books to adult books, in all sorts of genres such as sci-fi, rom-com, cozy mysteries, etc.

Posted by:

25 Jun 2020

so happy to see this info on Project Gutenberg! and thanks for the chuckle on the fav Mark Twain free ebook among those hoping to land in the Swamp on the Potomac

Posted by:

Ernest N. Wilcox Jr.
25 Jun 2020

Thank you for all these e-book resources! I found Libby, an ebook reader for borrowing library books, in the Microsoft Store. When I opened it for the first time, it wanted my library card number. I had not used my card in several years, and it was no longer active (valid), so I went to my local library web site, and applied for (and immediately received) a digital card. I then entered my new card number into Libby, and I was immediately able to borrow books. I am currently reading the second book in the "Fifth Wave" trilogy, "The Infinite Sea" (Yup, I'm a Sci-fi reader :) ).


Posted by:

Stella Hogue
25 Jun 2020

After following you since Tourbus, I'm STILL computer illiterate. Doesn't matter, I just enjoy reading you.

Posted by:

25 Jun 2020

Robin Reads. Free e-books. You sign up and they send a daily email with a free book in 5 or 6 categories and then some for 99 cents. You don't have to get any books or you can take them all. I've been doing this for almost 10 years now so lots of the books I already have. Most books are the first in a series. But you don't have to buy the others unless you want. I have found lots of favorite authors over the years.

Posted by:

25 Jun 2020

Don’t forget another great source for free reading material: Archive of Our Own (www.archiveofourown.org). It’s an open source and non-commercial site that has the goal to preserve all kinds of fan-based works. You’ll find a plethora of works based on anything you can think of. Whether it’s classical plays, books, films, tv-shows or whatever other theme you think of, it’s there.

A lot of people like to write in their spare time and most of them don’t aspire to become professional writers. A site like this offers a platform for creators to communicate with the people who view their work. They can leave a comment and/or kudos, those are treasured by the writers.

Of course, not everything is of a professional standard but you’d be surprised by the amount of absolute gems you can find there. The search for stories is made easier by the selection tools the site offers.

Posted by:

25 Jun 2020

In addition to Libby, and libraries also use Overdrive and RBDigital. I am currently listening to books recommended by Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ Pride websites. I appreciate our libraries make extra copies available if important and/or currently popular books.

Posted by:

Ken H
25 Jun 2020

I like Book Bub. They send a daily email with several books priced from free to about $2.99. You set your preferences and they do the rest. A couple of days a week (usually Sunday and Monday) there are no free books and the other five days there are at least one, often two and sometimes three free books. They are often the first book in a series. I have also often seen sets of three or four in a series for $0.99 or even free. Many authors are not well known, but there are also bestsellers (usually not free but far below the rate you would pay elsewhere.) They offer ebooks from Amazon, KOBO, Google and Apple Books.

Posted by:

Beth Roberson
25 Jun 2020

I use Hoopla. Free with a library card.

Posted by:

Sarah L
26 Jun 2020

Lately, articles on books in Wikipedia are adding the link to Standard Books as well as Project Gutenberg for books out of copyright.
The Wikipedia article on Standard Books describes them. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_Ebooks

As for audio books, to which I am practically addicted, the versions from the public library, on CD or via Hoopla or Libby/Overdrive, have way better narrators, in my narrow experience. Librivox is free, yes, and I think anyone who has the recording equipment can read the book for that source.

Posted by:

Juanita Moore
26 Jun 2020

Don't forget Prime Reading for Amazon Prime users. They have lots of free ebooks too!

Posted by:

26 Jun 2020

Thank you for mentioning public libraries! It's true that there may be wait times for current bestsellers in ebook or e-audiobook form, but digital providers like Overdrive/Libby and hoopla are making some of their titles available for unlimited readers, or not counting them against your library's monthly checkout limits.

Posted by:

27 Jun 2020

Also, Loyal Books (http://www.loyalbooks.com/). Over 7,000 free public domain books, most available as either audio- or e-books. Great collection for classics and kids books!

Posted by:

27 Jun 2020

Oh, also: Book Sends (https://booksends.com/) - like freebooksy and bookbub, but for kindle only.

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