Don’t you wish you could have access to a huge catalogue of free books, right at your fingertips?
When you’re as big of a bookworm as we are, you know that reading can quickly become an expensive hobby. Buying a new book every time you’re ready for a new tale is not financially sustainable, especially if you prefer hardbacks. Even second-hand books can become a strain on your wallet!
Though libraries are a great alternative to buying books, it is too easy to rack up late fees, especially if you like to spend more than a few weeks with a novel. Additionally, many libraries don’t have a very large catalogue of e-books, typically restricted to just the classics or what they already have on their shelves.
What many people don’t know is that there are an innumerable number of resources offering readers free books online. While you may not be able to hold them in your hand, readers are able to have access to hundreds of thousands (or more!) books and stories online, all for the low, low price of free.
These websites offer everything from the classics, comic books, young adult, kit lit, to fanfiction, and everything in between. Check out our list below to see the 20 best places to find free books online.
Project Gutenberg is one of the most well-known names in the free, online reading community. Powered exclusively by volunteers who digitize, proofread, and classify each piece, Project Gutenberg offers readers a large library with over 60,000 free ebooks that can be downloaded or read online. The organization focuses on older works that are now in the public domain, meaning that you can find the classics and other older novels with just a click of a button. Project Gutenberg is completely free and requires no registration, but because it is run by volunteers, you are more than welcome to donate to their cause or volunteer yourself.
Overdrive is a website that works hand-in-hand with your local library, allowing you to digitally “borrow” ebooks and audiobooks. When you sign up for Overdrive using your library card, you will have access to all the electronic titles in your library’s digital collection. This isn’t just for public libraries, as many school and university libraries also use Overdrive. Additionally, you can download their Libby app, which makes it easy to download and read while on the go.
The Digital Public Library of America, or DPLA, lets you read and download ebooks that are within the public domain. They have a large number of titles in nearly every genre, but many of them are older due to the longevity of copyright laws. One interesting thing about the Digital Public Library of America is that they also offer different types of political readings, such as recent impeachment papers and the Mueller report.
The International Children’s Digital Library, or ICDL, is a great place to find free children’s literature. The IDCL is a non-profit organization that is more than just a digital library, as the organization’s mission is to “promote tolerance and a respect for diverse cultures by providing access to the best of children’s literature from around the globe.” If you’re looking for high-quality children’s books and stories that can expand a child’s worldview, look no further than the ICDL.
While most of us may know Goodreads as the bookworm’s social media site, the organization also has a great selection of ebooks available to the public for free. They have much more than just the classics, featuring modern titles from a plethora of genres that can be downloaded or read online for free. Unfortunately, not all of their titles are complete, as some of their ebooks only offer a free excerpt, which means you may end up shelling out some cash if you are hooked after a few pages.
Falling under the Internet Archive umbrella, Open Library boasts a whopping 1.7 million ebooks available for its users. Their free ebooks can either be read online or borrowed from their eBook lending library, which features more contemporary titles than the ones that can be solely read online. Open Library is a great resource for students, as they also have a large catalogue of textbooks available for free — a huge bonus considering that textbooks are often egregiously expensive (and college students are usually broke).
Riveted Lit is an offshoot of Simon & Schuster’s Simon Teen branch, catered entirely to teenagers and young adult readers. In addition to a number of relevant blogs and polls, Riveted also offers a multitude of young adult novels available to read for free online. Some titles are available in full, while others are excerpts. The majority of these novels are fresh, contemporary reads that the publishing giant either recently released or will be releasing soon. Unfortunately, these titles are only available for a limited time, so read them while you can!
Open Culture is a huge database with a number of different types of media. In addition to offering 800 free ebooks, the site also features 1,700 free online courses, 1,150 free movies, 1,000 free audiobooks, and more. Most of their ebooks are works that are now in the public domain, so you can expect to read lots of the classics. You don’t just have to read Open Culture’s selection on your browser alone, either, as they are available for download on nearly any device.
The Internet Sacred Text Archive, or ISTA, is the best place to find free ebooks and other resources about religion, mythology, folkloke, and the esoteric. Their mission is to raise awareness and promote religious tolerance and diversity, and ISTA places an emphasis on scholarship and encourages its visitors to learn more about the world’s religions. ISTA is a must-stop internet destination for any readers who may be interested in theology.
The United States Library of Congress is well known not only for its archival work, but also their inaccessibility. However, in recent years the Library of Congress has begun to offer a glimpse into their once-secret shelves. Now, they offer a small (but wonderful!) collection of classics, as the Library of Congress urges readers to “explore bygone eras, time-honored tales and historical narratives. Adventure awaits in these classic books online.”
LibriVox is a heaven sent resource for audiobook fans! They offer over 16,000 audiobooks, read by volunteers from all across the world. These audiobooks are all works that are in the public domain, but still have a wide range of genres and topics. Additionally, LibriVox’s entire catalogue is a part of the Internet Archive umbrella.
Wattpad is an amazing resource for both readers and writers, as it serves as a place for aspiring writers to publish their works for an established audience. Though Wattpad may be best known for its fanfiction, there are works from every genre that are available to read for free.
ManyBooks has — just like it sounds — a huge catalogue of books, clocking in at more than 500,000 ebooks available to read online for the low, low price of free. You do not even have to create an account to access these books, and can be downloaded and read on a number of different devices.
While most of these websites offer a little bit of everything, Tor focuses on “Science fiction. Fantasy. The universe. And related subjects.” Every week, Tor releases new short stories written by prolific and well-known authors that will leave you craving for more. Additionally, Tor sponsors an eBook of the Month Club, where members are given access to one free ebook of their selection every month.
Read Print gives its users access to thousands of free books online from their website, but also serves as a community of readers, with recommendations, forums, groups, and online book clubs. Better yet, their interface uses a digital bookshelf you can use to organize books you have read and still want to read.
Like Wikipedia, Wikisource is one of the best websites to fall down an internet rabbit hole. It is a free, online library with over 528,464 English texts (with more being added every day!) that include classic novels, diary entries, historical letters, and more.
Amazon’s Kindle Store has used the idea of giving away free ebooks to its customers as a way to boost sales and audience interaction. This is great for readers, because the Kindle Store offers over 80,000 completely free titles available for download, even ranking them by popularity so you don’t have to sift through hundreds of pages of results.
Just like their name suggests, Free Booksy is a website that is focused on being a resource for 100% free books for its users. Not only does Free Booksy have its own collection, the organization also searches the internet to find free offerings from publishers, letting the readers know which and when ebooks are available.
Reedsy Discovery is one of the most unique websites on this list, because not only does it allow you to read books for free, but you can also directly support authors. First, you will need to apply to become a Reedsy Discovery reviewer, and when you are selected, authors will provide their books for free in exchange for a review, which can potentially help make the book become more popular.
If you (or a mature woman in your life) are a fan of romance novels, you’re likely no stranger to Harlequin, one of the most prominent publishers in the romance genre. In addition to publishing a number of titles featuring depictions of Fabio-esque heartthrobs, Harlequin also has a huge online catalogue of serialized tales from some of their most popular authors throughout the years available to read for free.
Long gone are the days of all too frequent, wallet-draining trips to Barnes & Noble or the walk of shame to the circulation desk at your local library to pay a twenty dollar library fine. Thanks to the internet, book-loving volunteers, and authors and publishers looking to promote their novels, contemporary readers have access to more literature than ever thought possible.
What are you waiting for? Check out one of the 20 best places to find free books online and get to turning those digital pages!