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The most obvious place to get free ebooks, and the most often overlooked, is your public library. Okay, they are not entirely free, your tax dollars paid for them. And you don't get to actually keep them for more than a couple of weeks. But how long does it take to read a book?

However, that is only the beginning of free ebooks for your reader. The major retailers, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and independents offer a multitude of free or low cost ebooks. And there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of websites offering free ebooks. Some are below the divider doodle.

  • Best known among the free ebook websites is my favorite, The Gutenberg Project. They offer books in multiple formats, HTML, epub, kindle, plain text and more.
    Project Gutenberg offers over 42,000 free ebooks: choose among free epub books, free kindle books, download them or read them online.

    We carry high quality ebooks: All our ebooks were previously published by bona fide publishers. We digitized and diligently proofread them with the help of thousands of volunteers.

    No fee or registration is required, but if you find Project Gutenberg useful, we kindly ask you to donate a small amount so we can buy and digitize more books. Other ways to help include digitizing more books, recording audio books, or reporting errors.

  • ManyBooks offers, well, many books in multiple formats. And they are all free. Affiliated with Project Gutenberg, they claim over 29,000 titles. And they link to free audiobooks when available.

    One of the higlighted books this week at ManyBooks is A Study in Scarlett by Arthur Conan Doyle, which was featured Monday night in michelewln's diary. So, if her writing intrigued you, this is the place to pick up the Doyle story. Free.

  • Free offers books by little known or independent authors as well as mobile apps for your smart phones.
    Download & Read eBooks for Free - for Life!
    Enjoy unlimited reading here at Welcome! Discover all-new, rising authors. Independent writers offer both entertaining fiction/romance for your enjoyment and non-fiction to help you find info from self-help to biz growth. Simply Login or Register now to get started.
  • The Book Depository offers 11,000 ebook versions of open domain as well as
    lots of great ebooks (many of which are strange and obscure like, A Honeymoon in Space) with no risk. And, who knows, if you like it you may even want to buy a physical copy!
    They also sell ebooks.
  • Goodreads also offers free ebooks, some downloadable and some for reading onsite. The book review site includes Harry Potter fan fiction, if you are interested in that type of thing, as well as the RK Rowling prequel to the series, Harry Potter, the Prequel.
  • There are websites dedicated to other websites that offer free books, including a page at, which offers "20 Best Websites to Download Free EBooks."
  • OpenCulture offers both ebooks and audiobooks (as well as movies and textbooks). Their library consists of open domain and independent authors.
  • offers several hundred free downloadable audio books. With higher quality available for a few dollars. And although most of them are classics for which the copyrights have expired, the website promises professional actors read them.

    Browsing the site, I came upon the adult erotica section. (No, I am not going to give you the link, look it up yourself.) In addition to the Kama Sutra (which I always thought people bought for the pictures) the site considers adult erotica to run the gamut from the unabridged edition of Fanny Hill to William Shakespeare's The Rape of Lucretia. The children's section includes more classics, from favorite authors like Jack London and Kenneth Grahame.

  • also provides free audiobooks of those that are in the public domain. Recorded by volunteers. I haven't listend to any of these recordings, but it might make an interesting way to spend an afternoon. And it is especially helpful to those whose vision is not as strong as it used to be. If you like, and are able, you can sign up and read chapters for the website as a volunteer. Their stated goal:
    LibriVox volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain and release the audio files back onto the net. Our goal is to make all public domain books available as free audio books.
  • And from the comments, cotterperson reminds me of this site, part of the Internet Archive as a place to find free audio books
    Another site with free audiobooks is They also have uncopyrighted music, print books, TV, movies, lectures ... and tons more stuff. (Also home of the Way Back Machine for internet sites.)
  • Also from the comments, Limelite writes:
    If you're interested in free lending, Lendle Me (I'm also a member there) is strictly for borrowers and lenders who are Kindle owners.  The preponderance of books are fiction and maybe too much erotica, vampire, romance stuff.  But, if you're patient and willing to look, plenty of excellent nonfiction (Dava Sobel) and fiction (Walker Percy) can be sifted from the not-so-good.  Two week lending period.  Free.
  • And still more from the comments. elfllng points out that not only does Baen offer DRM free books, they actually have a free library:
    Baen Books is now making available — for free — a number of its titles in electronic format. We're calling it the Baen Free Library. Anyone who wishes can read these titles online — no conditions, no strings attached. (Later we may ask for an extremely simple, name & email only, registration. ) Or, if you prefer, you can download the books in one of several formats. Again, with no conditions or strings attached. (URLs to sites which offer the readers for these format are also listed. )

    By popular request we've added a "Donate to Free Library" button which allows you to "purchase" a free book to show support for the authors and their donations. It works like the normal "Add to Cart" button and you can do one donation per book.

    We do it this way rather than direct donations because the minute we start accepting money for books under copyright, all sorts of royalty complications come into play.

The websites tend to make their offerings available in pdf format or, by selection, a format suitable for most ereaders.

But your best place for current, best selling ebooks is your local library. Libraries use one of three main reading platforms, and each platform works with different readers. Currently, the only platform that offers kindle compatible ebooks is OverDrive. The other two, 3M and Axis 360 require a download and manual transfer to a kindle. So, go to your local library's website, browse the catalogue and download the ebooks that your tax dollars have already paid for.

Also check your library's catalogue for downloadable audiobooks. My library offers some on CDs as well, that can be loaded onto my iTunes and then sent to my mobile devices or listened to on the computer itself. Or even listened to in the car on the CD player.

Ebooks can be an affordable boon to any who are homebound, not as agile as they used to be, or those like myself who are just plain lazy and don't wish to get into the car and go shopping at a bookstore or library. Using applications designed for smartphones and/or computers, they are accessible to those whose means are limited.  

Readers & Book Lovers Series Schedule

DAY TIME (EST/EDT) Series Name Editor(s)
SUN 6:00 PM Young Reader's Pavilion The Book Bear
Sun 9:30 PM SciFi/Fantasy Book Club quarkstomper
Bi-Monthly Sun Midnight Reading Ramblings don mikulecky
alternate Mondays
2:00 PM Political Books Susan from 29
Mon 8:00 PM Monday Murder Mystery michelewln, Susan from 29
Mon 11:00 PM My Favorite Books/Authors edrie, MichiganChet
TUES 5:00 PM Indigo Kalliope: Poems from the Left bigjacbigjacbigjac
alternate Tuesdays 8:00 AM LGBT Literature Texdude50, Dave in Northridge
alternate Tuesdays 8:00 AM All Things Bookstore Dave in Northridge
Tue 8:00 PM Contemporary Fiction Views bookgirl
WED 7:30 AM WAYR? plf515
Wed 2:00 PM e-books Susan from 29
Wed 8:00 PM Bookflurries Bookchat cfk
THU 8:00 PM Write On! SensibleShoes
Thu (first each month) 11:00 AM Monthly Bookpost AdmiralNaismith
Thu (third each month - on hiatus) 11:00 PM Audiobooks Club SoCaliana
FRI 8:00 AM Books That Changed My Life Diana in NoVa
Fri 8:00 PM Books Go Boom! Brecht; first one each month by ArkDem14
SAT (fourth each month) 11:00 AM Windy City Bookworm Chitown Kev
Sat 9:00 PM Books So Bad They're Good Ellid

Originally posted to Readers and Book Lovers on Wed Jun 12, 2013 at 02:08 PM PDT.

Also republished by Progressive Friends of the Library Newsletter.

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