A recent column on where to find free books for today’s popular digital readers brought a flood of responses, a few questions and a bit of a scolding. It seems I overlooked public libraries as potential sources of free e-book downloads. Given the popularity of the topic, I thought it would be wise to revisit this very popular subject of free e-books.
By way of review, e-books, which you download to read on any number of digital readers outfitted with specific software — a computer, iPad, Android, iPhone or other smartphone — are all the rage. Remember: You don’t need a Kindle device, Nook reader or smartphone to download e-books created for those readers. The software is free to download to your computer. And if you know where to look, you can get an endless supply of e-books absolutely free, as well.
LIBRARIES: Check with our local library to see if they offer e-book checkouts. As long as you are a library card holder, you may be able to log in from home and download e-books for free. The way it works in most cases is that you check out or put e-books on reserve, as the number of copies available are limited.
PROJECT GUTENBERG: Nonprofit organization Project Gutenberg offers 36,000 public-domain titles for free.
AMAZON: Every month Amazon offers free downloads of selected titles for Kindle. Simply type “free Kindle books” into the search bar to see the current offering of free Kindle books.
BARNES AND NOBLE: Barnes and Noble offers free books for its Nook reader. From its home page, type “free Nook books” into the search bar and prepare to be amazed!
OPENCULTURE: Enjoy amazing free access to 150 classics in e-book format by authors such as Jane Austen, Agatha Christie and Charles Dickens at OpenCulture.com.
SMASHWORDS: This destination offers free e-books from independent authors and publishers. There are almost 200,000 titles in the catalog. To quickly get to the list of free e-books, simply use the combination of three top-filter bars. For instance, from those three menus, select: bestsellers — that are free — that are 50K words or longer.
ARCHIVE.ORG: This is a nonprofit digital library whose mission is “universal access to all knowledge.” The website is a huge library of text, audio and video file. It boasts 3.8 million e-books and texts. As you browse and you find a book of interest, look at the panel on the left to see a list of available formats.
Most of the time, ePub (a friendly digital format) will be included.
MANYBOOKS: This site offers about 30,000 free e-books. You’ll find ManyBooks.net to be well-organized and easy to browse, and that books are available in an impressive number of formats.
On a personal note, I do not own a reading device such as an iPad, Kindle or Nook. I have a laptop computer on which I have downloaded the free Kindle reader software (free download at Amazon). I own a growing library of nearly 300 Kindle books and read them from my computer screen.