One of the best things about having an e-reader is getting free books. It’s like going to the library without having to chase the kids down the aisles (my children have inherited my, um, affinity for books). I don’t mind paying for a well-written ebook, but I’m no idiot. I’ll take free any day. Unfortunately, when you start picking up free books, sometimes you get exactly what you paid for. Fortunately, there are many great authors who offer their books for free. Many of them are exclusively on Amazon, but some are on other venues as well. I have a Kindle, so this post is focused on Amazon freebies, because that is what I know. (You don’t have to have a Kindle to read these books. There are free Kindle apps for almost every device out there, including your computer and phone.) There are some Nook sites out there, but I haven’t used any of those, and can’t tell you how well they work. (You can get books in any format from Project Gutenburg.) The Kindle sites are listed in the order in which I discovered them. Just because.
The most logical (if not the most helpful) place to find free books for your Kindle or Kindle app is on Amazon. If you go to the Kindle eBooks Home Page, you’ll find ebooks arranged in several different categories. Scroll down just a tad, and on the right-hand sidebar, you’ll see the Top 100 Best Sellers. There is a tab for paid books and one for free. On my page, there are also widgets for the Top 100 Romance and Top 100 Kindle Serials. I’m not sure if those are specific to me because of my buying preferences (that would be weird, though, because I don’t think I’ve purchased any serial novels) or if those are just the top categories. Or maybe they rotate. I don’t usually go to that page, so I don’t really know. Regardless, this isn’t my favorite way to find free books because they are listed by top-selling, which doesn’t really tell me anything about the quality of the book. It just tells me that people found out it was free from some list and “bought” it, either because it sounded good or just because it was free. If you get your books this way, you’ll have to click through and check the rating and reviews of each book individually.
This was the first “free ebooks” site that I discovered. Sadly, I didn’t discover the filters. It’s also possible that all those filters weren’t there two years ago. They are there now, so you have no excuse. eReaderIQ lists free and bargain (99 cents) ebooks. Books can be sorted by genre, length of book, rating, number of reviews, author, title, and how recently they became free. My favorite feature of this site, though, is the “Price drop” alert. You can do a search using several different criteria or you can set up an alert so that you will get an email if a specific book drops below a set price. There is also a list of recently “Kindlized” books and you can set up an email alert for that, too, if you’re waiting for a specific book. You also have the option to block “adult” content. In fact, I think that’s the default. (And unless you’re specifically looking for porn, I would strongly suggest you keep the block on. You wouldn’t believe some of the stuff that people put on Amazon despite the “no porn” policy – and I’m not talking about erotica. If you are looking for erotica, you’ll have to remove the block, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.)
You always want to use at least the rating search filter. It wouldn’t hurt to search for books that have become free in the past 24-48 hours. Those are the most likely to be the quality books that authors set as free for 1-5 days at a time to grab your attention. Not that books that are always free aren’t any good. I’ve found a few that are, but you’re more likely to find that always-free books are short stories or novellas that are teasers for the author’s other work. That’ s not a bad thing, just something to be aware of. (Actually, it’s good because while I’ll pay for a novel, I’m not paying $2-$4 for something that will only take me 10 minutes to read. )
You can check the website daily for new freebies or you can subscribe to their email list.
Digital Book Today
Digital Book Today is my absolute favorite place to find free ebooks. Well, not actually DBT, but the Squidoo lens run by Andrew at DBT. The list is updated daily, only contains books that are short-term freebies (see my note above about the length issue) and only lists books that are rated four stars or higher. So basically, Andrew has done all that filtering for you. You can subscribe to the email list so you get the daily updates right in your inbox.
I just discovered this site yesterday when a homeschool friend sent it through a list. (Actually, I think she sent it a few days ago, but I just got to it yesterday. Let’s not talk about my inbox.) FreeBook Sifter has the basic filters without all the bells and whistles of eReaderIQ. You start out by selecting a genre or the “Added today” section. From there you can filter by Title or rating. I recommend filtering by rating, because, well, what’s the point of filtering by title? We’re looking for quality books, right? If you knew the title, you would just go straight to Amazon, now wouldn’t you? The table does tell you how many reviews the book has. Five stars with 100 reviews is a lot different than five stars with one review.
Okay, I’ve known about this site for years, I just never made it over there until today. Project Gutenberg has a huge collection of public domain books. That means that the copyright has expired and the books can be offered for free. In other words, these are old books. Classics, anyone? There are no ratings on this site, but anything you find here has been around long enough that it’s proven its worth. I suppose some things may have slipped through. If you’re worried about it and you’ve read every single well-known book on the site (careful, your pants are on fire), they do have Top 100 lists to help you out. I didn’t check every single book, but it looks as if most of the books are available in all the top formats, which means Nook owners can use this site, too. Or anyone with a computer or any type of e-reader.
You are now equipped to venture forth and snag some free ebooks worth reading. Knock yourself out. Just remember those e-readers only hold a few thousand books at a time.
Disclosure: The Amazon link is an affiliate link. I am required by law to mention that, regardless of the fact that this post is about free books and I will not make even Amazon’s tiny commission from a free book.
Want to learn more great stuff? Check out the “How To” Blog Cruise on The Schoolhouse Review blog.