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December 30, 2010

Where to Find Free Kindle Books – Legally

Kindle

*gush alert*  I got a Kindle for Christmas and it’s, like, totally the most awesome-est thing ever.  *end gush alert before I gag*  And judging by the comments on Twitter, I wasn’t the only person to receive one.

So now I’ve been doing my best to fill it without breaking the bank.  Downloaded a couple of Kindle books I received as a gift?  Check.  Copied PDF-format ebooks over?  Check.  Emailed my work in progress to my Kindle account so I can imagine it’s a real book?  Check.

By this time, I’m addicted.  What else can I put on it?  What, what, what?  Enter free Kindle books.

Obviously, I have no intention of looking for illegal copies.  (Hello?  I am a writer.)  But I was pleasantly surprised by all the legal sources of free books.

Before I go into the list, I want to make sure that everyone knows that Amazon has free Kindle-reading apps for PCs, Macs, and various smartphones.  You do not need to own a Kindle to use these apps.  Also, many of the sources below offer free ebooks in other formats, so if your ereader isn’t a Kindle, you still have options.

Easiest Sources for Free Kindle Books: Amazon’s Kindle Store

These collections can be sorted by best-selling or average customer review, just like any other section of Amazon, and you can send the books directly to your Kindle.  If you live outside the United States, you might not be allowed to download these unless you change your country in your Kindle account.

  • Kindle Store: Popular Classics – 16,000 books like The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Pride and Prejudice, and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  This is a treasure chest for book-lovers.
  • Kindle eBook Store – There’s always a chance that free Kindle books won’t be marked for the above collections.  In that case, search by the category you want and then sort by Price: Low to High.

Other Sources for Free Kindle Books

These sources require you to download the book to your computer and then transfer the file to your Kindle via USB.

  • Project Gutenberg – 33,000 books in Kindle, ePub, HTML, and text formats.  This website has a helpful advanced search function if you’re looking for a specific title, but it’s not very easy to browse for random books beyond their Top 100 Downloads list.
  • ManyBooks.net – Many of the books listed here are from Project Gutenberg, but this website is more user-friendly for browsing by genre, looking for recommendations, etc.  Many books have a short synopsis and excerpt, and users can add reviews for titles.
  • Open Library – This website has the ambitious goal of becoming the Wikipedia of books, with a page for every book ever published.  (Open Library is the interface to the Internet Archive Texts project.)  This is a very user-friendly site with subject searches, filtering, etc.  An easy checkbox shows only those entries with ebooks.  However, many of the newer ebooks are available only for borrowing through a digital library and that format is not compatible with a Kindle.
  • Feedbooks – The other sources on this page are best accessed in advance via a web browser, but what if you want to download something to your Kindle right now and don’t have access to your computer? From the Experimental section of the Kindle, use the limited web browser to go to http://m.feedbooks.com/.   To download a book in a Kindle compatible format, click on the book’s name and then select the “Kindle” download option.
  • Munseys – This website has tabs for browsing by new, popular, or tagged books.
  • Inkmesh – This is an overall search engine of ebook sources (like PriceGrabber for online product shopping).  This has search by genre, and then can filter by price, device, etc.  (Suggested by Clara Kensie)
  • Google ebookstore – This “best of the free” section might expand in the future (as Google takes over the world), but currently most of these titles are probably available through the Kindle Store of Popular Classics.  Always check the Kindle Store first for ease of downloading.  Also, there’s no way to sort or filter results here.
  • Bookyards – Unlike many of the other sources above, these ebooks seem to be in PDF format.  Try other links first.

I’m sure there are other sources out there, but as you can tell from the bottom of my list, many of them won’t have books in Kindle format.  While the Kindle can open PDF documents and other formats like ePub can be converted, the Kindle format is my first choice.

ETA:  In breaking news, Amazon just added the ability to lend ebooks to other Kindle owners or Kindle reading app users.  So far, this applies to only a limited number of titles and has to be sent from your computer (you can’t lend directly from the Kindle), but this has interesting potential.

Note: I do not approve comments linking to glorified pirate sites.  Some sites claim their ebook files of current bestsellers come from the authors themselves.  Um, no.  That’s not how the publishing industry works.  When authors want to provide their books for free, they set it up with the retail sites (Amazon, etc.) directly.  No author would send their ebook file to a site where they had no visibility into download numbers, no bump in their Amazon sales rankings, and no guarantee that the file would be taken down after the promotion.  Please leave a comment if you have any questions about how to tell the difference, or about how the publishing industry works in this regard.

With all of the choices out there, I feel like Scarlett O’Hara—As God is my witness, I’ll never be bookless again.  Now to find the time to read…

Do you have an ereader, and if so, which one?  Do you have a favorite source for free books?  Do you have any user tricks to share?

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35 Comments on "Where to Find Free Kindle Books – Legally"

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Jason Paul
Jason Paul

I’ve owned a kindle for just over a year now and you have just given me a few new ideas with this blog.

This was a helpful, useful post that I am sure many new kindle owners/users will be able to take advantage of.

You continue to amaze! Thanks, Jami. You’re awesome.

Clara Kensie

Hi, Jami. I got an eReader for Christmas too. It’s a Pandigital Novel. I’ve read some people have problems with it, but I loooove it. I haven’t had any problems with it at all, so either I got lucky or I don’t have anything else to compare it to. It’s color, wifi, and connected to Barnes & Noble Nookbooks. It also has a separate Adobe library for pdf and ePubs that B&N doesn’t offer.

I found a site I refer to every day– inkmesh.com. You can categorize eBooks by store, price, and subject. I have mine set to Barnes & Noble, and then free. Inkmesh lists Kindle and Sony eBooks too, along with Smashwords and Baen Books (I’m not sure which of those are in Kindle format though, you’ll have to check).

I know how you feel about being like Scarlett O’Hara. I’ve downloaded over 350 eBooks so far (most of them free–yippee!) and still going strong. I’ll never have time to read them all, but I love it!

Techsurgeons TechGuy

Free books? Legally!?! Ooh, awesome! Thanks Jami for the great information.

OK, OK. I surrender. I’ll jump on the Kindle bandwagon too. TechWife will be so pleased. *off to Amazon’s web site* Now to order 1 or 2 of them… Sigh. 🙂

-TG

Suzanne Johnson

Great list of resources for (yes, me too) my brand new Kindle! So far, I’ve been wallowing in Amazon’s free trial subscriptions to magazines and newspapers. I’m even farther behind in my reading and writing, but I’m extremely well-informed!

Mekalia
Mekalia

I am a book critic, I rip apart books from the fabric they are made to make sure they are pure and made of interesting fibers. I love reading no matter what the book so kindle has given me the oppurtunity to read more often anywher I go. Thanks for the list, I wouldn’t ever download an illegal copy so this helps me to not empty my wallet…
this is Mekalia saying a great job and thanks again

Melissa

Thanks for posting this list! The one thing I hate about my brand new Kindle is how easy it is to buy books! I really need to monitor my purchases or else I’ll break the bank. It’s so easy to just go to the store right from the Kindle and buy buy buy!

Other than that, I’m lovin’ it, too!

trackback

[…]  i am addicted to buying free books on kindle. Me:  Aren’t we […]

Shelia

Another good site worth a look at is http://www.freeebooksforkindles.com
with a whole host of the clasics and other treasures

Sara
Sara

I get a lot of my free books from http://www.bargainebookhunter.com. They’re also good if you have a Nook, too.

Linda Vich
Linda Vich

By far, the best resource I have found for free Kindle books is Pixel of Ink. You can like them in Facebook and also sign up for a daily email roundup of free/bargain/daily deal books. http://www.pixelofink.com/

trackback

[…] The comment section of that post turned into a great conversation about how new owners of ebook readers typically go through a phase where they jump on all the free and cheap ebooks they can find.  I know I did.  I even wrote a post last year about where to find legal copies of free Kindle ebooks. […]

Tiffany

There is a new site called Freebooksy that curates free books for Kindle and Nook and features a free book every day. It’s pretty great.

Ed

Hi Jami,

I have yet another resource for you, but with a twist. The main feature of the site also helps clean up after itself and tries to ensure that the books listed are indeed still free at the time.

I’d love any feedback that you may have!

Thanks.

http://onehundredfreebooks.com

Ed

That’s great! I’m happy to hear that you liked it.

If you have any suggestions, feel free to reach out. I’m all ears.

And I made a bunch of strides this weekend to keep the home page even more updated than it has been so, enjoy!

paddyW
paddyW

For those still looking for great free Kindle Sites – check out http://www.ereaderiq.com . This site is terrific – it lists all the *new* free Kindle books out there and ones free for a limited time. You can make wishlists, use filters to sort the content, get notified of price drops, and much more. It also works for those outside the US by allowing you to select your region.

Adam Kisiel

Hello,

my name is Adam Kisiel and with my colleagues I run Goodkindles
(http://goodkindles.net).
We have started in 2011, in 2012 we have received a lot of attention
and currently we are a quite popular kindle book website.

I have seen your articles about websites where readers can get ebooks
for free. We are also such a site, because a lot of authors, while
submitting their books to us, connect it with a free promotion on
amazon. This way our readers can download these books for free for a
short period of time.

What is important, we are one of the most popular kindle promotional
webistes for authors, what you can easily verify by searching a bit
about us in the web. In 2012, we have been included on the “Great
Websites for Marketing & Connecting with Readers” list by Jeff
Bennington from The Kindle Book Review. We would be honored if you
could include us as well.

Best regards,

Adam Kisiel
http://www.goodkindles.net

Buddy

I curate a couple of facebook groups where you can grab free books.
Free Christian Books for the Kindle found at https://www.facebook.com/ChristianBooksforFree and Free Business Books that can be found at https://www.facebook.com/FreeBusinessBooks.
Hope you enjoy and please share with your friends that would enjoy as well. On second thought maybe you should keep all that free goodness to yourself. 😉
Buddy

eBooks GROW ON TREES

Hi Jami!
Just wanted to let you and your readers know about another website: http://www.eBooksGROWONTREES.com

Our goal is to provide readers with an eclectic assortment of Kindle eBooks to download either for Free, $0.99, $2.99 or Less, or an eBook Deal. We feature new deals every day that are updated on our website, Facebook, Twitter, and the eBooksGOT Daily Newsletter.

Thanks for all you do!
-eBooks GROW ON TREES

Keiki Hendrix

Hello. Thanks for compiling this list of free book sites. May I add one? The Vessel Project posts several free Christian books everyday.
http://vesselproject.com

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