Let’s be honest, those of us who are very heavy readers are always looking for places to score some free books. Of course we buy a lot of books as well but it’s also nice to have a fully loaded e-reader and we need some discounts for that! Here’s a comprehensive list of where to read books online for free as well as find some other cheaper options.
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Library Apps and Library Funded
The library is still the best place to find free books. I fully encourage all readers to support their local libraries. You can get a card really easily nowadays and you usually don’t even have to leave your home if you’re okay with a digital card.
Libraries are also the only places I’ve found that offer a selection of free comic books and graphic novels instead of just traditional books. This is a huge perk for a nerd like me!
If you do physically walk into a library you can get your card as well as any book that they can order in for you. The options are endless! However, if you don’t feel like leaving the house there are some online options as well. Keep in mind that each library operates a little differently and your checkout numbers and wait times will be different depending on location.
My main choice of library app is Libby, formerly Overdrive. Libby offers hundreds of thousands of digital books, comic books, audiobooks, and magazines right to your reader, phone, or tablet. Many of these are available immediately for download. More popular titles likely have a wait list but you can customize when you’d like to receive it after it’s available.
Another great free book app using a library card is Hoopla. This app offers a ton of content including ebooks, comic books, and audiobooks but also movies, music, television, and a ton of kid friendly learning content. The only reason I choose Libby over Hoopla is their checkout methods. Libby offers a standard first come, first serve system but Hoopla does it by library location quota. This means the quota is usually filled very early in the day and unless you checkout at midnight to 2am you might be out of luck.
The Online Books Page
You won’t need a library card for The Online Books Page but it is operated by the University of Pennsylvania Libraries. This site boasts of “over 3 million free books on the web.” Now, that should be enough for any of us to stay busy for a lifetime! These books are either in the public domain or have been granted free access by the author or copyright holder. This isn’t a great place to look for new releases and bestsellers but there are a ton of other options.
Powered by Internet Archive, Open Library has a mission to make every book available to every reader. Open Library has a huge vision that “all the published works of humankind available to everyone in the world.” They have a vast library already with books available to “loan” and read for an hour or to “borrow” for 14 days. You must have Adobe Digital Editions or an ereader that works with Adobe authentication to read the books.
Free Books in the Public Domain
As with The Online Books Page above there are a few other places to find public domain books. These are going to be your “classics” (and ancients) and a lot of books you might have to read for school.
Project Gutenberg has over 70,000 free e-books to choose from, most of which come from the public domain. This provider has been around for over 50 years and has been collecting free to read books even before the internet. You’ll only need your web browser to read the collected works of Shakespeare and all your great philosophers.
The powerhouse of Google Books also provides free books largely from the public domain. Although Google has all the money and experience the internet can offer they win the award here for absolutely worst user interface. Yes, you can find some free books but you can’t browse. You have to know exactly what you’re looking for and search for it just like a search engine. It offers very little guidance on how to go through the whole process so unless you know exactly what you want you’re better off with a different platform.
Free and Discount Books
Amazon: Kindle Unlimited and Prime
As the biggest bookseller in the world it’s obvious that Amazon is a great place to find books. It’s also one of the most trusted for user reviews. If you are a Prime subscriber you’ll have access to free books every month. These books download to your Kindle and are yours to keep. If you get a Kindle Unlimited subscription you can read unlimited books from their huge selection for $11.99 a month.
These are not free free but if you’re a heavy reader it is a very steep discount on the per book price. Especially if you already have Prime for some of its other services.
Smashwords has ebooks for sale as well as a rotating selection of discounted and free books. You can search for books by price range from free to $9.99 and less. They boast of offering a rotating selection of 100,000 free titles per day. These books are yours to keep and available in your Smashwords library forever.
Robin Reads works through Amazon to curate promoted sales on books. This isn’t a reader platform so much as a search tool. Every day it rounds up all of the free titles currently on Amazon and lets you know what’s available so you can scoop up the deals. Obviously, you’ll only be able to read the Amazon books on a Kindle or the Kindle app and not another ereader.
Many of these websites that help you find free books simply round up deals from across the internet every day. FreeBooksy showcases free books day of from places like Amazon and Barnes and Noble. This will give you more leniency with which ereader you prefer to use for your free online books.
Where to Win Free Books
You can enter to win free e-books and physical books on the Goodreads Giveaways page. These giveaways are often promotional tools for indie and self-published authors looking to find their audience. I’m a huge proponent of supporting these works so go win some books you’ve never heard of before and make sure to write them a review to help them succeed!
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