You might think that you need to spend money to fill up your e-reader with great literature, but that’s not actually the case. If you know where to look, you can find a host of free e-books out there to add to your collection, and you’ll find plenty of them are better than the paid stuff, too. No matter what model of e-reader (or e-reader app) you’re using, here’s where to find free e-books for it.
How to get free e-books on your e-reader
First, when it comes to actually reading your e-books, you’ve got a range of choices. Many will simply open right up in your browser. Some of the services that we’ve mentioned below also have dedicated options for sending your chosen titles straight to your e-reader.
The most common formats you’ll come across in your free e-book travels are EPUB, MOBI and PDF. If you’ve got a Kobo e-reader, you can get these files over to your device by connecting it to a computer and then simply dragging and dropping the files over.
For those of you using an Amazon Kindle, you can use Send to Kindle to convert your free e-books into the right format. To do this, you can use a browser extension, or a desktop program for Windows or macOS, or send the files to your personalized Send to Kindle email address.
How to borrow e-books
Your local library may well loan you e-books for free, just like it will with the regular, printed versions. First, you need to get yourself registered with your closest library—you might have to do this in person, but some locations now let you do it virtually as well.
Once that’s done, you need an app. There are a few to pick from, but the best is arguably Libby, which is available on Android and iOS: When you start the app for the first time, you’ll be asked for your library account information, then you can start browsing.
The selection on offer will depend on your library, and when you’ve borrowed a book, you can find it under Shelf and Loans. Tap the Read with… button and you can opt to open up the e-book to read inside the Libby app or send it over to your Kindle or other e-reader device.
How to read public domain e-books
Copyright laws vary from country to country, but wherever you live, chances are you can find a host of older, classic literature that’s in the public domain and also in the e-book format. All you need then is an e-book repository to point you in the right direction.
Project Gutenberg is the oldest and probably the most well-known example: You’ll find the likes of Bleak House, Pride And Prejudice, and The Great Gatsby here, plus thousands of others. You can read e-books in your browser, or get them in EPUB or Kindle format.
We also like the Open Library, which is part of the Internet Archive—take a look at A Midsummer Night’s Dream or A Room With A View, for example. This portal combines both e-books that are completely free, and e-books that you can borrow, library style.
More free e-books
Sometimes, writers put their work out free of charge, no questions asked: Maybe they want the exposure, maybe it’s just a labor of love, maybe it’s for another reason. Of course, the quality of these sorts of e-books can vary from title to title, but they are out there.
We’d recommend Manybooks as a good starting point for this kind of search, as it categorizes works by genre and is easy to get around. You can also find free e-books on Twitter, though you may have to do some serious sifting to get to the best material.
DailyLit takes a slightly different approach to e-books: It delivers them in instalments, to your email inbox, with a small amount of advertising attached. Not all of the e-books DailyLit offers are completely free, but many are, covering a wide range of genres.
Getting free e-books with Amazon offers
Amazon hosts the biggest e-book store front around, but there are freebies to be had here in amongst the paid-for titles. Getting to the free content can be something of a struggle—Amazon would of course prefer you to pay—but if you keep digging, you’ll find it.
Run any search or click through on any of the categories in the navigation pane on the left, and you can then sort by price (from low to high) using the drop-down menu in the top right corner. Note that some free titles will be part of the Kindle Unlimited subscription.
Perhaps an easier way to sift through all the free content on the Amazon Kindle e-book store is to head to Centsless Books, which does a great job of collecting and curating free titles. Again, some are from Kindle Unlimited, but you can spot these ones easily enough.