Books, Books, All Kinds of Books: Use the Internet to Get a Bunch of Free Lit

EBooks are popular – expected to grow from a $14.5 billion industry at the beginning of 2015 to $22 billion by 2017 – but that doesn’t mean you need fork over your hard-earned dollars for every single piece of digital literature you get.

In fact, you can access thousands and thousands of free eBooks online.

Sure, it might not be quite as easy as going to Amazon and clicking “Buy Now,” so you’ll have to decide if you want to familiarize yourself with online resources that could save you lots of money.

Should you decide you like free stuff, however, the online resources offer free eBooks now part of the public domain – i.e. copyrights expired – or by companies and authors that simply want as many people to read their stuff as possible to build audience.

Either way, it’s all totally legit and legal. Here’s are six great ways to get your cheap digi-lit on:

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oldmanseaThe Online Books Page was created by a digital library planner and researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. In fact, props to University of Pennsylvania Libraries for providing the server, disk space, and network bandwidth for the site. For what the site lacks in flash it makes up for with an index of more than two million online books freely readable on the Internet. The books are in all different forms so don’t expect uniformity (read: there’s a learning curve). But you can find interesting stuff. For example, search “Ernest Hemingway” and you get three titles, including “The Old Man and The Sea.” But it isn’t in book form – it’s the version that appeared in Life magazine on Sept. 1, 1952.

ManyBooks.net features more than 33,000 eBooks available for Kindle, Nook, iPad and most other eReaders. All the books here are free. You can search for specific titles, genres, authors, languages or new titles. There is also a way to search for what is most popular by other users of ManyBooks. When this story was posted, the most popular title was “Who Murdered Mr. Malone?” – the first book in Author Hope Callaghan’s Garden Girls Cozy Mysteries series. By comparison, the paperback version of the book – published in 2014 – is $10.99 at Amazon.

Project Gutenberg has nearly 50,000 free digital book titles from around the Internet. Many books have different file formats, too. For example, Agatha Christie’s “The Secret Adversary” is available for free download in several formats, including ePub and Kindle.

ReadCentral.com boasts a list of more than 8,600 books you can read free online. Many of the books can be downloaded in PDF, mobi (for Kindle), or the popular ePub format. Be aware that some books, such as Victor Hugo’s “The History of a Crime,” can only be read directly online. You won’t find any Stephen King here, but you will find all the classics and then some. You will need to sign up and create an account but just use a junk email account.

Readers who prefer more modern literature along with the classics will want to try Wattpad. You can’t download books, but you can get full-length books via Wattpad and read plain text on webpages.  And they have a lot – to the tune of 40 million stories, according to the site’s bio. Keep in mind a lot of the stuff is written by younger users (and it shows) as the site’s main function is to work as a writer/reader-centric social media platform. But if you go to the site and look under genres like “Classics,” you will hundreds of free books from which to pick – from Jane Austen’s “Mansfield Park” to specific parts of the Holy Bible. You do have to sign up and create an account but, again, just use your junk email account. There are iOS and Android apps available for Wattpad, too.

And if you want the latest and greatest in free eBooks, there’s OverDrive. Using either the Overdrive website or available app, you find your library and use your regular library card to checkout eBooks. You can download books directly to your device but at some point you will either have to renew or you will not be able to access the book – just like an old-fashioned library book.

Posted in: Tips

About the Author:

Andrew is a writer and producer/content developer for Roadtreking.com and the PC Mike Techcast at PCMike.com. He has been a professional storyteller for 16 years, building a successful career as a newspaper reporter and public relations specialist. Andrew's work has appeared in Crain’s Detroit Business, The Oshkosh Northwestern, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Crain’s Chicago Business, Advertising Age, Automotive News, Waste News, Appleton Post-Crescent, and Real Detroit.