Before we start to look at where to find free electronic books, we need to take a look at a few different considerations; which ebooks are free, and the different electronic book formats.
To be realistic, when you are looking for free electronic books, you are not going to find the latest best sellers, such as, The Girl with the Tattoo Dragon or Harry Potter. To legally download an electronic book it must be identified as being in the public domain or be specifically identified as non-commercial. This means that a majority of the ebooks that you will find are often classics, like “Pride and Prejudice” or up-and-coming authors who are looking for exposure by distributing free ebooks.
There are dozen of electronic book formats, but the most popular include the ePub format and the Amazon formats. The Apple iPad, Barnes & Noble’s Nook, the Sony Readers, and the Kobo Reader can all read the ePub eBook format. However, the Amazon eReaders cannot. The Kindle 3 and the Kindle DX use their own propriety format (.azw) and can also read the mobipocket format. All of these eReaders can also read pdf documents. However, for anyone who has tried to read pdf files on one of the smaller eReaders, it rapidly proves to be a frustrating experience. Keep the reading of pdf documents to the larger eReaders, such as the Kindle DX & iPad.
Let’s get started by looking at the resources that you can use to find free electronic books.
A good site to get started is FeedBooks. They provide a clear and easy to navigate site with ePub, Kindle, and pdf formats, with the possibility to choose categorized in English, French, German, Russian, and Spanish. All of the ebooks on this site have a non-commercial license so there is no time wasted coming across payable ebooks. FeedBooks also offers the ability to inspiring authors to publish their own eBooks.
ManyBooks also offers an exclusively non-commercial electronic book site. Similar to FeedBooks it offers a site that is easy to navigate and ad-free. The main strengths of ManyBooks is its advanced search and its eBook recommendation for those of you who don’t want to spend time searching.
Munseys is a website that has over 20 thousand rare and hard to find titles to choose from. You can browse eBooks by category or search the new or popular sections. Book reviews and comments are also posted on the website.
Zinepal allows anyone to create an eBook from their online content. As a reader you can search through the content and download the electronic books in popular formats.
BookYards is another good electronic book resource. Their goal is to be the library to the world. They currently have almost 20 thousand books in their collection. Their content includes ebooks, educational material, reference material, and other useful documents. A majority of the electronic books are available for download in PDF format.
The Google Book Search is a useful tool for finding books based on your keywords. The Google database contains a massive library of scanned books, including books in the public domain. To find these free ebooks, simply go the Google Books site and click on the Advanced Book Search link. Enter your keyword to search on, and within the Search criteria choose Full View only. There is no guarantee that this will return only public domain books, but it does significantly improve your chances. After you have run your search and are looking at the details of the ebook, you will see on the top right the possibility to download the book. Google Books publish their books in ePub & pdf formats, so if you are a Kindle user then you won’t find any thing for you here.
On the brighter side for Kindle users, a good tip is to use the Amazon site and simply sort the Kindle Books by price ascending. Here you will find dozens of free books to choose from. Sometimes authors release their first book in a series for free in order to sell later installments. You will have to check regularly as Amazon regularly changes their free listings.
Finally, the best known free resource for electronic books is the Project Gutenburg. This project offers one of the largest collections of eBooks in the world with over 30,000 eBooks available for download. The books available through Project Gutenberg are free because their copyright has expired in the U.S. You can search the site by author, title, language, or recently posted. There is also a Top 100 list, which is especially useful if you don’t have a specific title in mind.
So there you have it. While there may not be such a thing as a free lunch, there is such a thing as free electronic books. It may not be the latest best seller, but if you are willing to hunt around the libraries mentioned above you will not doubt stumble across something for you. In any case, if you use one of these sites then your next free electronic book will bring you just that little bit more pleasure, as you will know in the back of your mind that it didn’t cost you a cent.