How to Find Free E-Books: A Budgeting Bibliophile's Guide

07/27/2017 02:42 pm ET

You’re a budget-conscious bookworm looking to load up your e-reader without unloading your bank account. Great news: you can download hundreds of thousands of e-books without spending a penny. Here are a few easy ways to find your next free page-turner.

Your local library

Many public libraries, recognizing the global trend away from paper and toward digital, have implemented a system of online e-book lending, often through OverDrive. Check out your local library’s website or visit in person for more details and to apply for a library card. With a library card and the OverDrive app, you can borrow e-books and audio books right from your phone. Even best-sellers and recently released works are free!

Your e-readers store

Whether you’re the proud owner of a Kindle, Nook, Kobo, or other e-reader, you can find free downloads directly through your device’s store. The selections include classics and lesser-known gems, available to browse from a computer or on a wifi-enabled e-reader. For Kindle aficionados, these tips will help you take full advantage of Amazon’s ever-changing selection of free books.

Project Gutenberg

Named for the fifteenth-century inventor of the movable type printing press, Project Gutenberg offers over 54,000 free e-books. Most of these are available to the public due to expired copyrights, although you’ll also find some newer titles that the author has made available for non-commercial use.

Archive.org

The Internet Archive or archive.org contains millions of websites, movies, software, music, and more, including over twelve million books and texts. If you have a penchant for historical and academic books, archive.org will be your treasure trove. The Open Library project allows users to browse and search by title, author, or subject, and authors can contribute or edit books.

Google Play

Google is revolutionizing the world in a wide array of arenas, so it’s no surprise that they’ve also provided bibliophiles with a massive collection of free book downloads. Browse their top-selling free books, or simply search for the genre, topic, or title of your choice and then click “All prices,” then “Free” below the search bar.

DailyLit

For those literature lovers who are short on time, DailyLit delivers short installments of books to your email so you can easily squeeze a bit of reading into each day. Its library contains both free and paid literature, but the free selection is vast.

Amazon subscriptions

Through Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited service, readers can choose from over one million books, magazines, comics, and short stories for a monthly fee. If you are not a Kindle owner, no worries – you can also access the Amazon Kindle app on any Android or iOS phone or tablet as well as on PCs and Mac computers. Amazon Prime memberships include Prime Reading, a service similar to Kindle Unlimited but with a smaller selection.

Search the web

For those struggling to find a desired download, make use of Google’s “filetype” function. For example, if you are looking for an .epub version of Kurt Vonnegut novels, simply enter filetype:epub “Kurt Vonnegut” into Google. You’ll need to be extra cautious with these files and ensure they are both virus-safe and legal before you download, but you may be able to locate difficult-to-find titles this way.

Convert e-books

Already own a book in PDF, HTML, or other e-reader-incompatible format that you’re looking to transfer to your device? Calibre is a free, open-source program that allows users to convert books to .mobi, .epub, and other useful formats. It’s also a powerful tool for organizing your e-book library, editing metadata, choosing book covers, and more.

What’s better than curling up with a good book? Curling up with a good, free book. So get busy downloading, and happy reading!

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.
CONVERSATIONS