*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 Store: Limited Time Offers – This is a constantly changing collection of current books offered for free for promotional reasons.
- 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?Pin It