So, you’ve got yourself an eBook reader, smartphone, tablet, or other portable device and you want to put some eBooks on it to take with you. There are many options for obtaining free eBooks as well as purchasing, borrowing, or even renting eBooks.
We’ve listed some sites that allow you to download free eBooks directly or be notified when eBooks are available for free or for a discounted price on popular eBook sites. If you can’t find the eBooks you want on the free sites, there are several sites that allow you to purchase current, best-selling eBooks singly or through a monthly service. There are even special sites for lending and borrowing Kindle and Nook books with other readers across the U.S. We’ve also listed a couple of sites dedicated to searching for PDF eBooks, documents, etc.
We’ve previously shown you how to find thousands of free eBooks online using sites such as Project Gutenberg, ManyBooks.net, DailyLit, and FeedBooks. You can even find free eBooks on Amazon. We’ve listed additional sources for free eBooks here.
Internet eBook and Texts Archive
The Internet Archive Text Archive contains a wide range of free fiction, popular books, children’s books, historical texts and academic books.
Free-eBooks.net offers unlimited free access to eBooks in HTML format and access to five eBooks each month in PDF and/or TXT format. Download books from all-new, rising authors and independent writers. Many categories of fiction and non-fiction books are available. If you’re a writer, you can also submit an eBook.
VIP memberships are available that provide unlimited access to PDF and TXT formats, as well as the HTML format. As a VIP member, you can also download unlimited books in the MobiPocket and ePub formats, get first access to new books, priority customer service, and storage space for your favorite books. You can pay $7.95 monthly (renews automatically), pay $39.97 for a year, or currently (as of the writing of this article) buy three years for the price of 40% off two years, $49.97.
eReaderIQ is a free service that provides price drop alerts for Amazon Kindle books and watches your favorite titles to let you know when they are available for Kindle. You can also view a regularly updated list of all non-public domain freebies on Amazon.com and sign up to be notified by email when a new free book is released.
eReaderIQ also offers a superior search engine that allows you to search the Kindle Store by genre and keyword, and define the price range, reader age, language, and more.
Hundred Zeros is a collection of best-selling eBooks that are currently free on Amazon. You can download and read any of these books on your computer, mobile phone, tablet, Kindle or inside your favorite web browser. The list is updated every hour.
BookBub is a service that keeps you updated on great book deals. They notify you about free or deeply discounted books, sometimes discounted as much as 90% off the original price. Only high-quality content is listed, books that are best-sellers, from a top-tier publisher, or have received top reviews and ratings from critics and readers. You can specify which categories you want to get notified about so you won’t get emails about deals you don’t want.
NOTE: The deals you receive from BookBub are only available for a limited time, so be sure to act quickly.
Free Par-TAY offers links to free, quality eBooks from many different genres. The free eBooks on their site can be downloaded on specific dates posted on the site. You can also sign up for their newsletter to be notified of which eBooks are going to be available for free. Signing up for the newsletter automatically enters you in a drawing to win $100 in Amazon Gift Cards and in a drawing for a new Kindle.
Freebooksy posts a free eBook at least once a day. The eBooks cover multiple genres, so everyone can download something they like. The eBooks are free for at least the day they are posted, and sometimes for a few days beyond that. The dates the eBooks are available for free are posted.
Getting free eBooks is great, but sometimes you can’t find the book you really want for free. There are many ways to purchase, or even rent, current, best-selling eBooks. We list some of the more popular sites for buying and renting eBooks here, some of which also offer monthly subscription services.
Amazon Kindle Store
The Amazon Kindle Store offers over one million eBooks, including new releases and New York Times bestsellers. You can read the first chapter of most books so you can decide if you want to buy the book. As mentioned earlier in this article, there are also many free eBooks available on Amazon, including popular classics.
Of course, you can buy the Kindle devices on Amazon, but you don’t need a special Kindle device to read Kindle books. Free Kindle apps are available for every major smartphone, tablet, and computer. Once you buy a Kindle book, you can read it on any device that has the Kindle app installed. Using Amazon’s Whispersync technology, you can automatically save and synchronize your furthest page read, bookmarks, notes, and highlights in your Kindle books across all your devices. That means you can start reading a book on one device, and pick up where you left off on another device.
Some libraries offer a service that allows you to check out eBooks, and you can have them delivered wirelessly to your Kindle app.
Barnes & Noble – The Nook Book Store
The Nook Book Store by Barnes & Noble offers something very similar to the Amazon Kindle Store. You can purchase eBooks for Nook devices and free Nook software for mobile systems and computers such as Android, iPhone, iPad, PC, and Mac. You can also sync books you are currently reading across devices, just like Kindle books.
Fictionwise.com is committed to providing the Internet’s most comprehensive collection of fiction and nonfiction in many popular eBook formats. They offer award-winning and high quality eBooks by top authors in all the major genres and are working towards making Fictionwise the most technically advanced eBook website, including providing a sophisticated search and sorting options.
EBooks.com offers a large range of eBooks in every subject category in multiple formats for your Apple or Android device, Nook, Kobo, PC, Mac, etc., so there’s something available for everyone. The software required to read books from eBooks.com is free. You can search for eBooks by subject, title, or author, or use the full-text search to search by keyword.
If you want to find out when new eBooks become available in your areas of interest, you can sign up to receive free email alerts.
EReader.com offers eBooks that are carefully prepared to maximize the reading experience. They focus on delivering quality eBooks for a wide range of mobile devices. Their eReader software is free for all of their supported platforms and devices.
Google Play Book Store
The Google Play Book Store offers millions of books to choose from in every imaginable category for reading on Android smartphones or tablets, iPhones, and iPads. You can also choose to download your purchased books as ePub or PDF files for use on other eReaders or for reading on your computer.
Books purchased from Google Play are stored in the digital cloud, which means you can access them from any compatible device, whenever and wherever you want. You can start reading a book on one device, continue reading it on a different device, and maybe even finish it on a third device, as long as each device has an internet connection.
Powell’s Books offers competitively priced Google eBooks, Adobe Digital Editions, and DRM-Free PDFs for reading on your iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android phones and tablets, your computer, and a variety of other eReader devices.
eBook Lending, Borrowing, and Renting
There are online services available that make it easy to lend and borrow Kindle and Nook books. You can loan any Kindle book that has lending enabled (not all books are lendable) to one other user for 14 days. At the end of the loan period, the title is automatically transferred back to your Kindle. While the book is out on loan, you are not able to read the book. For more information on lending and borrowing Kindle books, see the Amazon page about lending Kindle books. You can also lend out your Nook books and borrow other users’ Nook books. For both services, any book you own can only be loaned once.
You may not find every book you want to read, but you can borrow a wide selection of books from these websites.
Kindle Owners’ Lending Library
The Kindle Owners’ Lending Library allows you to choose from over 145,000 titles to borrow for free as frequently as a book a month, if you own a Kindle device and you have an Amazon Prime membership. There are no due dates on borrowed books. Available titles include all seven Harry Potter books and over 100 current and former New York Times bestsellers.
NOTE: This only works with the Kindle devices, not with the free Kindle apps on other devices.
Kindle Textbook Rental
Amazon also offers a Kindle Textbook Rental service that allows you to save up to 80% off the list price of the print textbook. You can choose any length of time to rent the book from 30 days up to 360 days. You only pay for the exact time you need the book. Extend your rental time or decide to convert the rental to a purchase. You don’t need a Kindle device to rent textbooks. You can rent and read the textbooks on a PC, Mac, Kindle, or a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet. If you make notes or add highlights in the textbook, they are accessible to you at anytime, even after the rental expires, at kindle.amazon.com.
Library To Go (and other libraries lending eBooks)
Now you can check out library books as eBooks without ever setting foot in a library. The Library To Go website mentioned here is for libraries in the Northern California area. Go to the website for a library near you to find out if they offer eBook lending and how to borrow eBooks from them.
Library To Go uses the Adobe Digital Editions software for eBooks and OverDrive Media Console for audiobooks. You can borrow eBooks in Kindle format (for U.S. libraries), EPUB, and PDF. Kindle books can be delivered to both Kindle devices and Kindle reading apps on other devices. EPUB eBooks have “reflowable” text that fits any screen, so they are good on most mobile devices. PDF eBooks have fixed text, but you can zoom in on the text to create a large-print eBook.
Library To Go allows you to check out up to three titles and your cart will hold up to 15 titles. This differs, depending on the library. For example, the Ventura County Library in California (powered by OverDrive Media Console) allows you to check out up to five titles and your cart will hold up to seven titles. The lending period can vary from title to title. Titles are generally removed from your cart after 30 minutes so that other users can have the chance to check them out.
On the Library To Go site, you can place up to four titles on hold at one time. They send you an email when a title becomes available. You have five days to check out your hold after we email you notification that it is available. On the Ventura County Library site, you can place up to five titles on hold at one time and you have four days to check out the books on hold once they become available.
NOTE: Use the OverDrive service to find a public library in your area that allows you to check out books on your eReader. This is a relatively new service, so not all libraries are connected, yet. Check both the OverDrive site and your local library’s website to see if eBook rentals are available at your library. Also, be sure to check out the eBook lending policies for your local library.
Open Library is an open, editable library catalog, building towards a web page for every book ever published. Once registered on the Open Library site, you can borrow up to five eBooks for two weeks each from the growing collection of mainly 20th century titles available now. Each title in the library can be borrowed by one user at one time and can be read in a web browser, or in Adobe Digital Editions, as a PDF or ePub.
eBookFling makes it easy for readers across the U.S. to borrow and share their Kindle and Nook eBooks. Earn credits by lending your eBooks, and use those credits to borrow eBooks from other users. The eBooks are automatically returned in 14 days. If you don’t want to lend an eBook, you can pay to borrow one.
Lendle allows you to lend and borrow Kindle books easily for free. You can lend Kindle books to people you know through Amazon, but Lendle also allows you to lend and borrow Kindle books with any U.S. Amazon Kindle users. Earn Amazon gift cards when you lend your Kindle books. A Kindle device is not required; Lendle works with the free Kindle apps for the PC and Mac computers, as well as mobile devices such iPad, iPhone, Android, and other popular devices.
Lendle pays all users a small credit for every book they loan through Lendle. The price we pay for each book varies based on the price, demand, and supply of that book. Once you’ve loaned out a book, Lendle waits the full 21 day loan period (seven days for the borrower to accept, and then 14 days for the loan) before crediting the lend. Once you reach $10 in credits, Lendle pays out a $10 Amazon gift card. The gift cards are paid in bulk, twice a month.
BookLending.com is a website that matches lenders and borrowers of Kindle eBooks. To participate in lending and borrowing Kindle books, you must first register as a user on the site or connect using Facebook Connect. Registering on BookLending.com creates a profile, which you can access from the top, right corner of the screen. Your profile page allows you to review the status of your loan offers and requests, initiate loans, and delete loan offers and borrow requests.
eBook Search Engines
The following web pages contain search engines specifically used to find free PDF eBooks, articles, documents, and almost any kind information stored in PDF format.
PDFGeni is a dedicated search engine for finding PDF eBooks, manuals, catalogs, data sheets, forms, and documents you can download and save. You can also preview the PDF files you find. Either search from the website directly or install the provided plugin (see the link in the upper, right corner of the search page) to add PDFGeni to the Firefox search bar.
You do not need to sign up to use the PDFGeni search engine.
PDF Search Engine
PDF Search Engine is another easy-to-use search tool for finding PDF eBooks and other PDF files. Sometimes the results give a direct PDF link. But, in other cases, you might need to download a torrent using a torrent client.
RSS/Twitter Feeds for Free eBooks
If you use an RSS reader to stay up-to-date on your favorite websites, you can also keep current on the availability of free eBooks with the following RSS and Twitter feeds.
NOTE: If you find other Twitter feeds about free eBooks that you want to view in your RSS reader, see our article about viewing Twitter feeds in your RSS reader.
Lori Kaufman is a freelance technical writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.
- Published 07/7/12