5 Easiest Ways to Score Free eBooks

By Samantha Stauf on 27 June 2016 4 comments

I'm a bookworm. But the life of a bookworm can be an expensive one. Popular novels tend to be priced anywhere from $6 to $20. That's a pricey prospect for readers who tend to power through five, ten or more books every month.

Throughout elementary school and college, I controlled the costs of books primarily by utilizing my public library. I haven't stepped foot in a library in three years, yet I still tend to pay less than $10 every month buying books. The large majority of my reading time is spent downloading and reading free ebooks. Here are five smart reading hacks that can eliminate your monthly book expenses entirely. (See also: 8 Smart Ways to Save on Audio Books)

1. Sign Up for Kindle Family Library

Kindle Family Library is a handy feature that allows you to link up to two adult and four child Amazon accounts. Once the accounts are linked, you have access to all the eBooks that the individual has purchased in the past. This can provide months of free reading.

Once you have read all of the books in your shared library, you can then separate your accounts, wait 180 days, and then sync up with another family member or friend for access to their library.

The only downside of linking accounts is that you will need to authorize the other individual to utilize the credit and debit cards you have on file. You need to trust the individual not to go on a wild shopping spree on your Amazon account.

2. Borrow ebooks From Strangers and Friends

Both Amazon and Barnes and Noble allow individuals to lend the books they bought for 14 days. This can allow you access to more books without directly linking up your accounts.

You can supercharge your ability to borrow books by signing up for an online book lending community. Websites like booklending.com (Kindle), Lendle (Kindle), and eBookFling (Kindle and Nook), all allow you to borrow and lend books to strangers.

However, many of these lending sites (Lendle and eBookFling in particular) do expect you to lend books to other members in order to continue to borrow books yourself. If you don't already have a library of lendable books, or you don't plan on slowly expanding your library, you might not be able to utilize many of the online lending communities.

3. Read Non-Professional Stories Online

There are hundreds of solid stories self-published online for free on a variety of websites. Budding writers flock to sites like FictionPress to in order to practice the craft of writing. In exchange for an occasional review of a chapter or story, readers have the ability to dive into a potentially good book for free.

Another non-professional option for the more geek-inclined is to start reading fanfiction. Fanfiction, for those who don't know, are stories that utilize the characters and setting of already existing television shows, movies, comics, or books. If you do delve into the world of free reading by devouring fanfiction, I would suggest starting with either Fanfiction.net or Archive of Our Own.

But there are a couple potential downsides of utilizing sites like FictionPress or Fanfiction.com to find good books.

  • You can expect to find some sub-par writing due in part, to the fact that individuals of various skill levels publish on these types of sites. Try to choose more popular novels based on how many reviews, favorites, or follows they have.
  • The majority of writers publish in these forums as chapters are completed. This process often leads to many writers abandoning stories mid-way. So search for completed stories when doing searches for potential novels.

If fanfiction is for you, utilize an application within Calibre (a free eBook organizer) called FanFicFare to download the books onto your computer as either an ePub (Nook), a Mobi (Old Kindle), or an AZW3 (New Kindle) file.

4. Read Public Domain Books

You can keep your electronic bookshelf well stocked by simply sticking to reading books that are within the public domain. This means that anyone is free to use or re-use the book. You can find older classics like Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen or Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens as part of public domain.

Some of these books you can find for free on major eBook publishing sites. Others, you can locate on one of these 25 different free public domain publication websites. Many of the free-to-use websites allow you to choose which format (ePub, mobi, HTML) you would like to download the novel in.

If you're unsatisfied with the file option available on the site you choose, you can always upload the file to Calibre and convert that file to one of your choice.

5. Check Author Websites for Free Short Stories and Novels

You might want to scope out your favorite author's websites for free novels or short stories. Many authors publish their older novels or short stories online as a gift to fans or in an attempt to attract new readers.

And you can either read their stories online or utilize Internet applications like Send to Kindle or Readability to send the chapters or short stories on the author's website to your ereader.

How do you save money on ebooks? Share with us!

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Guest's picture
Erin

The Overdrive App and your library card are a great way to get free ebooks. Although there is a waiting list for super popular titles, I have gotten quite a few new releases immediately.

Guest's picture
Guest

Borrow ebooks from the library

Guest's picture
K. Chang

ohfb.com (one hundred free books) has a large collection of the free promo books, and the list is updated daily. A lot of new Kindle books are offered free for limited periods (a week or less) and once you claim them it's yours. Often, first book in a series is offered free as well. Hate their web design though. Just scroll all the way to bottom and click on "free books". You'll get a lot of recipe books, romance novels, craft books, and so on, but there are occasional gems.

Guest's picture
Guest

Check out your library! Many libraries have ebook (and eaudiobook) services you can access at no charge by using your library card.

Guest's picture
Carol S

Bookbub is a site that matches your reading interests to free and low cost e-books. They try to promote books that have lots of positive reviews and books by already-established authors that are free or cheap just for a short time. Between Bookbub and the library, I'm usually set. But I also use Goodreads to find books I haven't heard of that might be good. I'm surprised by how often I see a book on Goodreads and then check my library's Overdrive system and lo and behold, once again I'm reading for free :-)