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How to Find Cheap & Free eBooks

by on June 23, 2021
in Money Savers, Tablets & eReaders, Tips & How-Tos, COVID-19 :: 9 comments

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There's nothing like escaping with a good ebook. But at prices averaging more than $10 for bestsellers and $5 for regular titles, a steady supply of ebooks can get real expensive real quick. The good news: There are plenty of places to find great ebooks for free or at a significant discount. Here are our favorite places to go for reading on the cheap.

Borrow an ebook from your local library

Libby app screenshot showing public library books categorized as Historical Fiction Inspired by Real Women

The best place to start for free books is your local library, and the same holds true for ebooks. The vast majority of libraries now offer popular ebook titles to borrow, just like hardcovers and paperbacks. Borrowing an ebook is very easy with the Libby by Overdrive app (free for iOS and Android) or browsing libbyapp.com. Using the app or website, find your local library in the app, enter your library card number, and you can start borrowing books immediately. 

Free eBooks for Kindle and Kobo

Amazon Prime Reading selection showing Featured titles (Harry Potter and Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrects, The Missing Sister, One for the Black Bird, One for the Crow, My Sister's Grave) and Most Popular eBooks with Audible Narration (Last Day, Wall of Silence, A Killer's Wife, Unspeakable Things, In the Heart of the Fire).

Amazon and Rakuten kobo have selections of free ebooks designed to whet your appetite for more. You'll find new authors, first titles in a series, and much more. All you need is the free Kobo or Kindle app.

If you’re a member of Amazon Prime, you can also choose one free Kindle book each month through Amazon First Reads (non-Prime customers can purchase one book for the reduced price of $1.99). You also have access to the Prime Reading, with access to a rotating library of hundreds of ebooks, including the Harry Potter series and many New York Times bestsellers. They’re not all top-tier reads, but they are free for Prime members to download and try. 

If you don't want to scroll through all of the new offerings, sites like Bookbub will tailor lists to your book tastes. You'll also find book synopses and ratings. 

Free books on Google Play Books and Apple Books

Google Play Books screenshot showing Top Deals in Books (Lock Down Abbey, Innocent, The Field Guide to Dumb Birds of North America, The Judas Strain, Rosewater, The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Seconds Deadly Sin, Free Fall, House Girl, Star Wars The Jedi Path, All Creatures Great and Small, Think Black)

Google and Apple also make free books available for their devices through Google Play Books and Apple Books. When you head to Google Play Books, you'll find a section called "Escape with a free ebook." You can also click on the Top charts tab and check out the "Top Free" and "Top Deals" selections, where titles start at $0.99. Click on the Audiobooks tab, and you'll find a similar range of free content.

You can only access Apple Books on iOS devices. When you open Apple Books, scroll down to "More to Explore," and you'll see a "Browse Free Books." There you'll books for everyone in the family, from parents to young kids, as well as audiobooks.

Free books on Project Gutenberg

Screenshot of Project Gutenberg Pride and Prejudice page showing download formats in HTML, EPUB, and Kindle

Free is hands down my favorite price for books, and few places offer more free books without subscription or commitment than Project Gutenberg. The non-profit has approximately 65,600 public domain titles from authors like Shakespeare, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Jane Austin, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. If you’ve ever wanted to check out a classic novel, Project Gutenberg (gutenberg.org) is a great place to start.

To load a book on your Kindle device or the Kindle app on your phone or tablet, you'll need to download the file in the Kindle format (.mobi file) and then email it to your Kindle's email account. To find your Kindle email address, go to More > Settings and you'll see your "SEND-TO-KINDLE EMAIL ADDRESS" listed. Compose an email using the email account that you use to log into Amazon, attach the downloaded ebook, send the email, and the ebook will show up in your Kindle library within a minute. If you don't see it, go to More > Settings and select Sync.

Kindle and Kobo Deals

Screenshot of eBooks by Rakuten kobo showing The Romanovs and Successful Aging. One the left are filter tools for language and price.

Like most major bookstores, online bookstores have a sale section too. Before you pay full price for an ebook, check out Amazon’s Kindle Daily Deals and Rakuten kobo eBooks Under $5, where you can find titles for teens and adults priced between $0.99-$4.99. From historical biographies to mystery novels to light romance fare, there's a little bit of everything to discover. And if you don’t like what’s currently available, check back – the deals are updated every day.

eBook Subscription Services

Scribd

If you’re the type of person who craves new reads rather than re-reading old favorites – or if you just blaze through a ton of books each month – then you’re a perfect candidate for Scribd, Bookmate, or Amazon's Kindle Unlimited. These subscription services are akin to Netflix for books.

Kindle Unlimited offers more than 1,000,000 titles, Bookmate has 1,800,000 titles, and Scribd offers "hundreds of thousands" from smaller and top-tier publishers alike. Plus, Scribd and Kindle Unlimited offer audiobooks, in addition to ebooks, and Scribd offers magazines, sheet music, and documents, including academic papers, and court documents. In short: Even the pickiest reader is guaranteed to find something worth their time.

New members get a free month of service on all three services, allowing you to get a sense of the libraries without spending a dime. After the free trial, Kindle Unlimited costs $9.99 per month. Bookmate costs $9.99 per month, or $8.33 per month when you buy a year upfront. Scribd is $9.99 per month, though they warn that "occasionally, some titles in our library may be temporarily unavailable to you depending on your recent reading activity."

Before you start binging on free ebooks, be sure to check out our story on the best blue light glasses and our tips on how to make text larger so you don't suffer from eye strain.

Updated on 6/23/2021

[image credit: Amazon]

For the past 20+ years, Techlicious founder Suzanne Kantra has been exploring and writing about the world’s most exciting and important science and technology issues. Prior to Techlicious, Suzanne was the Technology Editor for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and the Senior Technology Editor for Popular Science. Suzanne has been featured on CNN, CBS, and NBC.



Discussion loading

Don't Forget BookBub

From Warren on January 28, 2016 :: 1:38 pm

BookBub offers free and inexpensive ebooks every day. Your subscribe to their mailing list and select one or more genres of interest.  http://www.bookbub.com

Reply

Don't Forget InkArcade!

From Cliff Wellington on November 08, 2016 :: 12:39 pm

InkArcade has some great deals, I’ve been using them for months now.

http://inkarcade.com

Reply

Here's a nice secure one!

From Joan C. on April 09, 2018 :: 6:02 pm

I’ve been using this one for almost a year now, and love them! Many different selections, a lot of them free, but most are just 99 cents. Many choices of genres.

https://ereadernewstoday.com/

Reply

Missing a few

From Liz R. on June 01, 2019 :: 11:39 am

Reply

cheap and free books

From brian hesketh on July 03, 2019 :: 8:01 pm

i use book bub for free and cheap offerings ..email comes daily and shows books from Amazon, kobo,google etc

Reply

relatable stuffs you might like

From Adney Parker on November 30, 2020 :: 9:47 am

A good indepth and informative article, by the way I am using http://www.jubimedia.com, to get the best entertainment with action adventure ebooks. I am sharing this through this great platform with others.
Best Regards,

Reply

Catch more interesting e-books on lumatch.com

From Lumatch on December 01, 2020 :: 5:06 am

It is a great blog written by you. The e-books on https://lumatch.com/ can be a part of your interest. You should check it!

Reply

free books narrated in various audio apps

From sharon carver on June 24, 2021 :: 12:18 am

Apps like Librivox have tons of free books that are narrated by volunteers—especially good for those with vision problems who have temporarily or permanently been deprived of reading.

Reply

I have difficulty navigating project

From wendell on July 16, 2021 :: 3:08 pm

I have difficulty navigating project gutenberg.

Reply

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