I spend an embarrassing amount of money on books every year. I have an active library card, which I use religiously, and I buy used whenever possible, but I spend about as much on books as Carrie Bradshaw spent on shoes. It’s a hazard of the habit, honestly. As I more fully embrace ebooks, however, I have learned various ways of scoring free books. Here are some tips to get cheap or free books, no library card required:
If you don’t already have an ereader, download Amazon’s Kindle app to your phone. Then go into their Kindle store and click on the bestsellers link. Of course, it defaults to Top 100 Paid, but you can actually switch it over to the Top 100 free books. If you are more of an iThing user, iBooks has a similar link in their “Top Charts” section. While I am sure not all of them will float your boat, remember that they’re free. So even if you start reading one, and you end up not liking it, you aren’t out any money. I like to give new authors a try this way—I’ve been hooked on a few good series as a result. Also, if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you get to pick one book to download each month for free from the Kindle First program. The selection varies from month to month, but it is usually from a group of six titles. The Samsung version of the Kindle app also does the same thing, allowing its users to download a book from a group of four each month.Amazon will also let you borrow one Prime title a month. As long as you return one before borrowing another, you can take one out every 30 days.
You can also join a site like the self-publishing giant Smashwords. It’s free to join, and many of the books they offer are free or super cheap. They’ve got a huge range of topics, and you navigate subjects by clicking the buttons on the left-hand side of the page. There are plenty of formats available, so you should be able to find something compatible with your device.
If you aren’t really a contemporary literature reader, I have some wonderful news: many classics are public domain. I’m talking Sherlock Holmes and Pride and Prejudice. Authors like Kafka, Tolstoy, Wilde, and Dickens. All those heavy hitters and great books, and they’re all free. Really! The Gutenberg Projector Free Classic Bookshave them available for download in most ereader formats. I downloaded the complete works of Edgar Allen Poe and The Importance of Being Earnest the last time I was there. Oh, if only our English Lit teacher could see us now! If that isn’t enough, there’s also the mind-boggling site Open Library, where you can borrow or download over a million ebooks.
There are also a bunch of newsletters you can subscribe to. I personally use Bookbub, because I can customize the notifications I receive—I have it checking for deals on my favorite authors’ books as well as specific categories that I enjoy. I am sent an email every day with books that will likely interest me that are either free or very low price. If I don’t see anything I like, I just delete the email and wait for the next day’s list.
Nothing beats your public library for free books, but the ebook market has definitely opened up a whole new—free—world for readers. I highly recommend taking advantage of some, if not all, of the links above. Happy reading!