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Get Thousands of Free eBooks From These Sites

Updated on January 13, 2014

As a person who loves books and reading it took me awhile to come around to eBooks but now that I have I’m a little obsessed. There are now twice as many books on my eReader than I could fit on all the shelves in my house and it fits in my pocket. The problem, of course, is that eBooks cost money. Individually they are not terribly expensive, but if you’re trying to build a library it can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Fortunately you don’t have to buy every book you want. There are a number of online archives that legally offerfree eBooks. Many of these books are in the public domain, meaning that copyright has expired, others are available for free for promotional reasons. While they may not offer current best sellers very often, there are enough books listed on these sites to overflow most eReaders.

Before I begin talking about specific sites though, I urge everyone to download a copy of Calibre. Calibre works like iTunes for your eBook collection and, in addition to helping you keep track of what you have, Calibre will convert eBooks, articles and other documents from just about any format (.pdf, .mobi, .ebup, .html, etc) to just about any other format. This means that when you find eBooks you want, you can put them into the format your eReader requires.

I recommend that you get Calibre or another "eBook Management Tool" because by the time you finish visiting the sites on this list, you are going to have a large library and will want a way to keep track of it.

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg is the Internet's first eBook repository. Michael S. Hart, the inventor of the eBook, launched the archive in 1971. As of this writing, there are a total of 42,000 free eBooks available in a variety of formats on Project Gutenberg. These are books in the public domain and most of the classics (Shakespeare, Dickens, Twain, Doyle etc). The site will allow you to download books individually or entire CDs containing hundreds of eBooks. Downloading in bulk could be useful for people who don't have constant internet access or individuals trying to build up a library. There are also newsletters and alerts you can subscribe to if you’d like to keep up to date with Project Gutenberg’s latest offerings and Project Gutenberg now has a self-publishing portal for books and poetry.

Visit: Gutenberg.org

Internet Archive

Archive.org is, by far, the Internet's largest archive of free material. Much of it is public domain, but not all of it. Some of the content was published under a Creative Commons license or published with the permission of the copyright holders. As of today the site offers a total of more than 5.6 million text documents. This includes eBooks, essays, scientific studies, government and historical documents and more. In addition to eBooks, the site also has almost 1.5 million videos including movies and tv shows, 1.8 million audio files including more than 100,000 live concerts, a library of old software, a TV news archive and an archive of old video games. It’s not the latest or most popular stuff, but you can easily spend thousands of hours going through archive.org’s materials and still not see everything.

Visit: Archive.org

BookYards

Bookyards is a sort of a internet hub for people who read. It hosts more than 18 thousand books and links to more than 40 thousand more. It features book news and blogs and access to hundreds of online libraries. It should definitely be in the bookmarks of anyone who reads. It also allows writers to publish their own work if they are prepared to give it away for free.

Visit: BookYards.com

GoodReads.com

Goodreads is a social media site where readers discuss books. It is an amazing resource and a great place to talk about books and get recommendations for books you might like. It also offers more than 2,500 free eBooks and book excerpts in a number of languages. Many sites, such as Project Gutenberg offer classics which are in the public domain. Many of GoodReads offerings are more recent publications from lesser known authors who are looking for an audience. There are also excerpts from books by better known authors, so you can try before you buy.

Visit: Goodreads.com

Hundred Zeros

Unlike Project Gutenberg and Archive.org, which deal primarily with public domain books, HundredZeros.com deals primarily with newer books. Many of these are, in fact, Kindle bestsellers which originally cost money but are now free. It features hundreds of books in dozens of categories and includes both fiction and non-fiction titles.

Visit: HundredZeros.com

Free Book Spot

FreeBookSpot doesn’t actually host any free books on its site. What it does is provide a database of links to free eBooks on other sites. Given that there are many other sites out there it can be an incredibly useful tool. In total it has links to thousands of books in 90 categories.

Visit FreeBookSpot.es

ManyBooks.net

While ManyBooks has many of the same titles as sites like Archive and Project Gutenberg, it is an easy to use site with an attractive layout that makes it easy to search and browse. They also have a great list of tools to help you convert and work with eBooks.

Visit ManyBooks.net

Open Culture

Open Culture is an amazing site for free, cultural, stuff. The site offers 500 free eBooks in a variety of formats. It also offers free movies, information on free online university courses, free K-12 educational resources, free language lessons and more. Open culture also has a blog which is updated daily and provides information on free stuff and recently unearthed resources. It should definitely be bookmarked and in your RSS reader.

Visit: OpenCulture.com

eReaderiQ

While it doesn’t deal, exclusively, with free eBooks eReaderiQ.com is worth checking out, especially if you have a Kindle. The site tracks free and discounted books on Amazon. It will allow you to find lots of free eBooks on Amazon.com itself and will keep you posted on sales and discounts, so that you can get the books you want for less even if they are not free. If you’re not a Kindle user, it may still be worth your while. There are tools which will allow you to convert the format of your eBooks so that you can make them work with your non-Kindle eReader.

Visit: eReaderIQ.com

Librivox

While Librivox.org is not a eBook site, it is worth mentioning to anyone who loves reading. Librivox is a volunteer run free audio book site run by volunteers. The people at Librivox work with Project Gutenberg and Archive.org to disturb It was founded by Montreal writer Hugh McGuire in 2005 and currently contains more than 7,000 titles. They also have a variety of children’s titles available. So if you’d like to have someone read to you or your kids while you’re in the car or out running around town Librivox is definitely worth a look.

Visit: Librivox.org

University of California Press

The UC Press, one of the most respected academic presses in the United States, has recently put nearly 2000 titles, published between 1984 and 2002, up for free. These are academic titles covering a broad range of subjects. The topics include art, music, science, history, religion and fiction. The books on the US Press list might not make for light summer reading, but it’s a useful resource for students, teachers, history buffs and for people who generally love learning.

Visit: UC Press

There are other sites out there that offer free eBooks, however most books that are available for free online will be listed by one or more of the sites above. If nothing else, this site should help you build a nice eBook library before you spend a dollar.

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    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 3 years ago from New Jersey

      Thank you for this valuable information. I've switched to a Kindle e-reader as I simply have no more shelf space. But I agree the price of buying e books adds up. I will be happy to look into some of these. I love Goodreads, I write a mini review for everything I read there.

    • Ceres Schwarz profile image

      Ceres Schwarz 3 years ago

      This is very useful and helpful for all those who love reading but may not have the funds to be able to purchase many books or e-books. You're right that the price of e-books might seem cheap when you're just buying one but when you add it all up, it can quickly become very pricey indeed. It's great that there's a lot of sites where you can get free books legally without having to pay anything.

    • Tolovaj profile image

      Tolovaj 3 years ago

      Thank you for this list with several sites I have never heard for before. I would like to add majority of commercial sites with e-books also have sections with free stuff. These of course need some time and skill to be found, but it's totally worth. It's good to know we can get so many great books for free:)

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