Remember those old vinyl records? Remember jumping on the 8-track bandwagon? Switching over to cassette tapes? How much money you spent converting your music collection to compact discs? To MP3s?
How about your VHS movie collection? You probably emptied the bank switching over to DVD, and God forbid you upgraded to Blu-ray. Keeping up to date with technology is expensive, and it's happening to books, as well. With eBooks replacing hardcovers and paperbacks, you're in for easier reading access, portability and saving some space, but you're also going to shell out some cash to build up your library.
But you don't have to. There are a ton of free eBooks out there, no matter what eReader or tablet you own—Amazon's Kindle, Barnes & Noble's Nook, Sony's Reader, Google's Nexus 7, etc. With those devices comes fantastic eBook stores for easy browsing and purchasing. They have tons of great digital literature for sell, but you shouldn't waste your money unless necessary (or want to). There's plenty of free options out there, so make sure you exhaust the free before you receive the fee.
The majority of the free eBooks available are either promotional items or older, out-of-copyright, pre-1923 books, which account for nearly 2 million titles. And it doesn't matter what device you own, or if you prefer reading digital copies on your computer, because you can convert almost any of the common eBook files into the version you need using something like Calibre.
Okay, enough babbling—here's some of your options.
Yes, there's tons of costly eBooks at Amazon's Kindle Store, but there's also some free eBooks available. Actually, there's thousands of classics available for nothing, from Pride and Prejudice to Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon.
- Link: Kindle Popular Classics
Also, Amazon has tons of limited time promotional items, which means free for a "limited" time. If you check on a regular basis, you can come out with some pretty decent freebies.
- Link: Limited-Time Offers (sorted by price)
Previously known as the Google eBookstore, Google Play Books is the place to download eBooks for your Android device—and it also has free eBooks for download. Their traditional formats are supported on Android and Apple iOS devices, Nook and Sony e-readers, and the web.
- Link: Topselling Free
You've probably seen a few out-of-print television commercials, after-school specials or instructional videos at the Internet Archive, like this motivation one or this one for letterpress printing. But they also have an abundance of free texts, which you can download in different formats like ePUB, Daisy, PDF, plain text, DjVu, MOBI or Kindle.
- Link: Texts
But an easier way to search for eBooks from the Internet Archive is through their initiative Open Library, where they're trying to provide a page on the web for every book ever published (a daunting task). Just go to the website and do a search, making sure the "only show ebooks" option is checked. Then just click on the book link to see the formats.
Available in ePUB, Daisy, PDF, plain text, DjVu, MOBI or you can send directly to your Kindle.
- Link: Open Library
This amazing website is run by none other than the inventor of the electronic book, Michael Hart. He invented eBooks way back in 1971 (yes—they're that old!) and to this day, continues to make free eBooks available to all who wish to download them at Project Gutenberg. There's over 45,000 freebies for the taking, which is 100% legal and available as ePUB, Kindle, HTML and text documents.
- Link: Project Gutenberg
ManyBooks is just like Gutenberg above, only it has a hipper vibe, one that's more easy to navigate. The best thing—it has over 29,000 free titles in over 20 digital formats, including LIT, LRF, ePUB, MOBI, PDF, etc.
- Link: ManyBooks.net
FeedBooks does sell eBooks, but they also have a large collection of public domain books, along with a section where authors can publish their own books for people to download and enjoy freely—a great idea. These are available in ePUB format.
The ones above are the best and most versatile places on the web to get free reading content for your e-Reader, but there are some still worth visiting. Here they are:
- Baen Publishing Enterprises - Just search for a book (available web, Kindle, MOBI, Palm, ePUB, Nook, RTF, HTML and more).
- Barnes & Noble's Free Nook Books - They don't have much, but it's worth a glance.
- Sony Reader Store Free eBooks - Also not many, but worth checking out.
- Kobo Free eBooks - Available in ePUB format.
Do you know of any more places to download free digital books?
Start your career in Graphic Design with the Gadget Hacks Beginners’s Guide to Photoshop Course