While physical books will always hold their value especially for us millennials, the electronic versions are now the vogue. This is mainly due to the recent developments in (mobile) technology and the proliferation of e-reading services.
You can have your entire library in your own pocket to take anywhere you go. It is true that technology has radically transformed the act of reading but more importantly, it has unchained it from the geographical and physical boundaries that used to restrict it.
There are several websites and online libraries that offer access to free ebooks and audiobooks. In the list below, I compiled for you some of the best places where you can search for and access free ebooks and audiobooks.
I have tried each of these platforms and found them worth the mention here. If you are a bibliophile like me and enjoy reading books or listening to audiobooks then you definitely need to keep this list handy.
Some of these platforms require that you register using a valid email address and password before you download ebooks. Registration is free. I invite you to check out the list and share with us your feedback.
1- Internet Archive
Internet Archive is one of the best sources of free eBooks and out-of-print materials especially academic materials. Besides books, Internet Archive also offers access to a large library of multimedia resources including movies, websites, music, audio, and many more.
2- Project Gutenberg
Project Gutenberg is a virtual library that hosts tons of free eBooks. You can search for eBooks by author, title, language, subject, type popularity, and more. You can also use the Bookshelves section to view related eBooks or browse the Frequently Downloaded to access top 100 eBooks ranked by popularity. The Recently added section features the latest new and updated eBooks. Project Gutenberg eBooks works on any device and can be read right from your browser.
3- Amazon Kindle Store
Kindle Store offers an important collection of free Kindle books. (disclaimer: affiliate link) Kindle Unlimited is a book subscription service which allows readers to borrow books, magazines, and audiobooks for a monthly fee of $9.99 or $119.98 for a year.
Talking about Amazon, I am a huge fan of their subsidiary service Audible. I think buying a subscription with Audible was one of the best investment ever for me. Since I started using their service, I have listened to hundreds of audiobooks (YES hundreds). In fact, just last year (2021) I listened to 146 audiobooks and these are listens that took place during my daily runs and commutes.
My current plan with them is called Audible Premium Plus (14.95 Canadian dollars per month) which comes with access to the Plus Catalogue that features a huge selection of Audible originals, audiobooks, and podcasts. The plan also includes 1 credit per month which can be used to purchase any title from the Audible library.
If you love audiobooks, LibriVox is another great place to download them for free. LibriVox provides access to a huge collection of free public domain audiobooks. LibriVox audiobooks are sourced from Project Gutenberg and the Internet Archive. These materials are narrated by volunteers from all around the world. You can browse audiobooks by title, genre, subject, and language. LibriVox audiobooks work across different devices and platforms.
5- Apple Book Store
Apple Book Store is another great book subscription service which provides free eBooks. To search for free eBooks on Apple Book Store, install the app, login and click on Book Store. Scroll down to Top Charts and click on Free Books.
6- Open Library
Another good platform to search for and find free eBooks. Open Library is an initiative of the the Internet Archive and features catalogues of over 20 million books. You can use your Internet Archive email and password to borrow a wide variety of books in Open Library for free. Use the Browse button to explore different book collections including K-12 Student Library.
Manybooks.net offers over 50.000 free ebooks which can be searched by title, author, or keyword. A large portion of the reading resources in Manybooks is sourced from the Project Gutenberg and another portion are contributions by self-publishing authors. Besides free eBooks, the site also offers updates on discounted eBooks online.
8- Open Culture
Open Culture has this resourceful page featuring over 800 free eBooks that you can read on iPad, Kindle, computer, or any e-reader. The collections includes ‘ great works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, including works by Asimov, Jane Austen, Philip K. Dick, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Neil Gaiman, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Shakespeare, Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf & James Joyce.’ Open Culture also provides another list comprising over 1000 free audiobooks that are free to download.
9- OneDrive and Libby
OneDrive is a web service that lets you access over 40.000 libraries worldwide. You only need to have a library card so you can easily browse through and borrow eBooks, magazines, and audiobooks.
Libby is the mobile version of OneDrive which allows you to borrow and read your eBooks and audiobooks on the go. Other features provided by Libby include the ability to download titles for offline reading, send eBooks to kindle (U.S. libraries only), listen to audiobooks via Apple CarPlay, and more.
Looking for deals on free books, BookBub is your go-to platform. It features a list of limited-time offers for popular books in over 20 genres. You can download and read these materials across numerous devices including Kindle, iPad, Android, and Nook. Use the categories on the left-hand side to browse through book collections. There are biographies, memoirs, historical fiction, LGBT, humor, literary fiction, science fiction, thrillers, cooking, business, romance, and many more.
11- Free eBooks
Free eBooks as its name implies offers access to a large collection of free ebooks and audiobooks spanning different categories including history, classics, children audiobooks, non-fiction, fiction, textbooks and more. You can search for books by title or author. To be able to download eBooks you need to be registered with Free eBooks. Registration is free.
12- PDF Books World
PDF Books World is an online library where you find digitized versions of books that have gone into public domain. The collections cover different categories including fiction, children’s writing, non-fiction, and more. Ebooks are available in high quality PDF format with features such as legible Font sizes, Toc, illustrations, and Internal Reference Links. You need to register to download these materials. Registration is free.
Best eReaders for students (ETML)
The 6 best places to find free books online in 2021 (Business Insider)
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