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10 ways to download books for free and read them online



If you're like me, books are a refuge. I do not discriminate when it comes to a good story, whether on my Nook, my Pixel 3 ($ 813 at Walmart) or on the paper page. I think it's great to find a good story, and that stays with me long after the last chapter. But if you read several books a month, it will be an expensive hobby to easily get new titles from Amazon or the bookstore. Free digital libraries come into play here.

Thanks to the Internet, the concept of a personal library is changing. Previously, paper books stood on endless shelves. With the rise of Amazon and its Kindle, the convenience of buying books to read on a device has been taken over. Free Lending libraries celebrating National Library Week in the US have also gone online alongside online libraries that are reinventing themselves to be relevant in the digital age. Today, dozens of websites and apps offer everything from contemporary indie fiction to elizabethan classics, without paying a penny.

There are 1

0 great ways to get books for free on your desktop, laptop, phone, or tablet without infringing on copyright (and we know that you would never .

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The next chapter is a multi-part series exploring the changing role of libraries in a networked world.


James Martin / CNET

Which books can I read for free?

If you've been looking for free books, you may have noticed that most, if not all, are classics. Older works of literature, essays or plays are classified as public domain, which means that the creative work is not subject to copyright. If nobody owns a work, it can be offered for free.

What do I need to know before downloading and reading?

Reading a book online is easy, but downloading a book depends on which device you want to read it on. Apple users may install Apple Books (also known as iBooks) on their iPad, iPod Touch ($ 180 on Amazon) or iPhone on $ 1,000 on Amazon) . Android users can find out about Google Play Books. In both apps, you can find cheap and free ebooks.

Here are some common formats that you can see when browsing and downloading your free books:

  • EPUB-compatible on all devices except Kindle.
  • HTML – Can be used when reading in your browser. However, e-readers also support the format.
  • MOBI – commonly used with Kindle.
  • PDF – supported by e-book readers, iOS and Android devices
  • RTF – works with most e-book readers and iOS and Android devices
  • TXT – Basic text without formatting and compatible with iOS and Android devices.

Authorama

Authorama offers hundreds of publicly available works such as Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and more. Just tap the title to start the book. While the site can not download you to a device, you can read it in your mobile browser or in your desktop browser.

The only downside to reading in your browser is that there is no way to mark your place. The sites we compile allow you to manually enter the page number or search for chapters.

Gutenberg

The Gutenberg project offers more than 58,000 free eBooks. Choose a novel to read online or download on your phone or PC. The book will be saved as an ePub, Kindle file or text in your Dropbox, Google Drive or One Drive. You can also download the file with or without images to save storage space. If you do not want to download, just read it in your browser in HTML.

Browse Project Gutenberg's extensive catalog for new additions, popular e-books, and more. If you're a fan of audiobooks, Gutenberg connects to LibriVox.

LibriVox

  librivox

libriVox is an oasis of audiobooks. Take a look at LibriVox's free public domain audiobooks. Like Audible, you can search by author, title, genre, or language to find the next book you want to hear.

Listen to your browser or download the book to your device or PC. You can subscribe to iTunes, your RSS feed in a podcast app or torrent. If you prefer reading, the website leads to Project Gutenberg.

Most books are read by other LibriVox users and are always on the lookout for more volunteers.

ManyBooks

ManyBooks offers a selection of classics and contemporary novels. Find the perfect title with dozens of genre filters, voice and user ratings. Make a free account and fill out your book settings.

Read the book online or download it. ManyBooks asks which file you want to set as default. They are subject to change at any time.

For a one-time fee, ManyBooks also provides a place for self-publishers to house their works and introduce them to a community of avid readers. Therefore, newer titles may appear next to the public domain classics.

  bookbub

Search the word "free" to begin with BookBub.


Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt / CNET

BookBub

Create a free account and insert your book settings and reading habits to get started with BookBub. This website is full of books. Many can be downloaded for free, others are available from 99 cents. Browse curated genres, recommendations, lists or search "free".

When entering your digital reading preferences, remember which device you want to read e-books on-Kindle, Apple Books, Nook, Kobo, or Google Play. BookBub filters available content based on your gadget.

Goodreads

The Goodreads app is a personal favorite of mine. It's a great site to organize your books, see what your favorite authors read, and find new readings. If you are looking for free e-books, Goodreads can help too.

The Goodreads community creates lists for just about every book you need. Finding free books is no different. Here you will find curated lists of free e-books by indie and self-published authors, public classics, Librivox audiobooks, children's books, previews, samples and more.

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Smashwords

Browse Smashword's extensive catalog of contemporary and classic fiction, nonfiction, essays, plays, and scripts. Filter your search by price, special offers and word count. Find the book you want and choose your preferred file format to download.

Please note that you may need to enable the ability to upload a book using Google Play Books or the iBooks app. Otherwise the files will not work. If you like, Smashwords offers the option to read the book in your browser.

Digilibraries

Digilibraries have a similar layout to Project Gutenberg. Most of the time you will find public domain classics in dozens of categories. Some titles date back to the 1700s, but you can find names like Jack London, Arthur Conan Doyle, Charlotte Bronte and Charles Dickens.

You can check out an excerpt, but you must download to read the entire book. Formats include ePub, PDF, or Mobi file types.

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Why buy books when you read can you do it for free?


Book of the Month

BookLending

In almost a dating app style, BookLending suits users who can help out with someone else's literary needs. Create an account and ask to either borrow a book or borrow a book. Almost every book is searchable, and it's not just publicly available material.

To borrow an ebook, search for the song you want and tap the orange Borrow button. Once the title is available, you have seven days to accept the loan and 14 days to read the book. After 14 days, the e-book automatically returns to the lender. If nobody has loaned the book or there is a long list of people who want the book, it may take longer for the book to be obtained.

Public Library Apps

Fetching books from your local library is not old-fashioned. If you want to leave the book without the couch or risk a late fee, public library apps are a good alternative. The apps that frequently generate digital records of what you borrow are generally available for Android and iOS, with e-books and audiobooks available for rental.

Large libraries such as the New York Public Library, the San Diego Library and the Brooklyn Public Library have their own apps. However, you will need a card with the library before you can use the app. If you're in a smaller town, your local library might work with Hoopla or OverDrive.

Editor's Note: This story was originally published on April 8, 2019.

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