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If you don’t want to spend a ton of money on reading, then you’ll want to find where you can get books for free. Reading great books doesn’t have to be expensive.
With my love for reading, I go through a ton of books. People like to ask me where I get my books from. While getting books for free is pretty straightforward, it may seem a little overwhelming at first. There are a lot of options for getting free books, but not all of them are made equal.
In order to find what you’re looking for - what interests you - you need to first understand what each site offers. The following guide is meant to help you find the books that will be of most interest to you.
Books In the Public Domain
These sites will help you find books that are completely free - they’re in the public domain, which means there are no copyright restrictions on them. That also means that these books are generally older books, or made by less well known authors. They’re generally not the latest book. There are tons of great books in the public domain though, so you don’t have to be frightened away by the older books.
Project Gutenberg has thousands of free eBooks to choose from. This is one of the original, and most well known sites out there for free ebooks. This site lets you download the books in many different formats so you can read pretty much on any device, including in your browser. The layout of the site isn’t the best, but it’s easy enough to navigate.
Authorama has hundreds of books in the public domain. The downside is that the website doesn't let you download to a device, but you can read in your browser. You’ll have to keep track of your page manually for this one. The benefit to this over Gutenberg is that the selection is smaller, and it focuses on more well known books. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, it may be easier to use this site than Gutenberg. Find the book you want here, and then download it on Project Gutenberg.
Another site with public domain books. This one has the nicest layout of these options - just looks a bit nicer. You’ll find plenty of interesting books here from Charles Dickens to Jane Austen novels.
Self Published Books
If you’re looking for new and emerging authors, then these sites will help you to locate them. Many people like to avoid the big machine of a publisher to have full control of their work, and these sites will help you find them.
ManyBooks offers both books in the public domain (all of the same books as Project Gutenberg), but also offers new books from new and emerging authors as well. This is a solid way to find a new author who isn’t well known. They have books to buy as well on this site. The navigation on this site is far better than the previous sites mentioned - it’s far more modern in nature.
If you’re looking for less well known authors, or trying to find the next great hit, then this is the place to do it. Smashwords is a large self-publishing website, so you’re going to find books from authors that are trying to navigate writing on their own. There are thousands of books to choose from here, so if you’re looking to find an interesting new author, this is the place to go.
Free New Books
If you’re really looking for the latest books, your options are a bit more limited as to where you can look. However, that doesn’t mean your selection will be. The below sites will help you find the book you’re looking for, including the latest novel from your favorite author.
BookLending and Lendle
Both of these sites are very similar in how they work. They both require that you use the Kindle app or Kindle device for reading as the books are lended out through Amazon. Amazon allows an owner of an ebook to share that book with someone else for free - these sites help to match you with someone that is willing to share their books.
Using the sites is quite straightforward - simply search for the book you want, and click the button that you want to borrow the book. The downside is that the book may not be available for quite some time - just because you request it doesn’t mean anyone is willing to share it. I’ve found that these sites often have far more people looking to borrow than share. It’s worth a shot though, especially with more popular books.
There are a couple of ways to get free books directly from Amazon. First off, they have a huge selection of free books. Most of the stuff in there isn’t that great, but you can often find a few solid books. Make sure to sort the books by rating to find the best stuff.
The second way to get free books is if you’re a member of Amazon Prime, they send out the ability to download one free book a month from a selected list of 6 to 8 books. I’ve actually found the quality of these books to be really solid. I download my free book each month, and while there’s a dud every now and then, I’m quite impressed.
Public Library Apps
This is by far the number one way I’m able to find free ebooks that are new. Most library systems will have subscriptions with different online services to provide members books for free. Overdrive is by far the biggest service provider that partners with libraries, but there are many others such as Hoopla or RBDigital. Whatever service your library provides, absolutely take advantage of it.
I have a membership at two different libraries, and while there’s an overlap in a lot of the content, there’s also a lot of content that is different between the two. I often am able to find a book at one of the libraries, and not the other one. If you have the ability to have memberships at different library systems, I’d recommend doing so.
Reading books for free doesn’t have to be hard. It definitely will take some time to find a book to read, or find what you’re looking for, but there are a ton of great options out there. Hopefully you’ll find that reading interesting books can be a straightforward and fun endeavor.