Thursday, May 19, 2011


The proliferation of e-Readers along with the manufacturer’s proprietary stores has led many people to think that if you own a Kindle you can only purchase from Amazon, if you own a Sony you are stuck at the Sony store, if you own a Nook you must go to Barnes & Noble for your books. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Last year, after many months of studying e-Readers and asking questions about people’s experiences with them both in real life as well as on Facebook and Twitter, I decided to get myself an e-Reader.

I do believe that e-Readers and e-Reader software will definitely play a very important part in our lives moving forward but I do not believe that they will ever replace actual books overall. There is something about the tactile feel of a book in your hand that can never be replaced. However I do think that we will see fewer books published on paper unless they become true classics.

I’m not talking about some publicist’s declaration that “this is the new classic for the millennia” and so forth. I mean talking about classic that will withstand the test of time. We may even see that new books tend not to get published on paper until they have withstood that test meaning that an author may never see their work on paper – only electronically! While this may end up being great for the environment, it may be bad for the ego.

I chose a Kindle based on a number of reasons – even though a few features I really wanted were not available on the device. Since then one feature – the ability to share a book with someone - has been made available through a software update and they have announced that another one – the ability to utilize Overdrive - will be available soon. There are other features I would love to see on the Kindle, but they can wait for now.

While this list is a bit more Kindle-centric, there are many sites here that have e-books for more than just the Kindle so feel free to share this with friends who have other e-Reader devices.

By the way I have no issue with expanding this to include other e-Readers by brand as well as non-US sites so if you have any other e-Reader sites (other than B& for the Nook, for the Sony e-Reader, for the Kobo reader, and other OEM sites for their own brands of readers) please feel free to share them below or with me via email.

Note that some of these sites may only work from the U.S. or North America. Others may work from anywhere in the world if registered on the site correctly. (Example - the Amazon US Kindle Bookstore will let you purchase books from the US as long as your Kindle is registered there. So if you live in the U.K. but would rather buy your Kindle books from the U.S. store instead of the Amazon UK store you can in theory do so but then you cannot utilize the UK store at all and if you later switch the country of registration you may well lose all your previously downloaded books.

Note that many e-Readers now also have cross-platform applications so that you can read a book not only on the e-Reader but also on your Mac, PC, phone, etc. Some applications will even let you synchronize the book you are currently reading across all your devices!


Michael Gallagher’s e-letter gives a lot of tips, advice and links to free books for the Kindle. If you subscribe via e-mail it is free; if you subscribe to have it come down to your Kindle it costs. Visit Free Kindle Books And Tips to sign up.

Another site for freebies that are more Kindle specific is e-Reader News Today.

There will be some duplication between the above two sites but also quite a bit of non-duplication so it is worthwhile subscribing via email to both of them.

Until the upgrade comes to the Kindle, you might want to look at this article which also has information on Calibre and RetroRead - programs that will let you convert some ePub books (like most of the Google free books) into Kindle compatible files.

Another piece of conversion software to check out is Stanza.

Remember – any books you convert you will have to transfer via your computer using the Kindle’s USB cable.

Another interesting read - this one from CNET about finding freebies on Amazon itself is here.

Amazon releases their books in the .amz file format but remember that many MobiPocket also known as .mobi files and .prc files are Kindle compatible. (The majority of them are not DRM-protected and that is why.)

Note: Some of these sites offer pay e-books as well.

Baen Free Library: Great sci-fi/fantasy publisher. Click on the Books link to see titles but read the “home page” first to get an idea of what they are about.
Diesel e-bookstore Although primarily a pay e-book site they also have a free e-book section
e-Library seems to be a basic reseller portal which sends you to other e-bookseller sites. They do have a system that might make it easier for you to find books you are looking for though.
Free Unlimited free download e-Book site.
FeedBooks is a cloud-based publishing and distribution service. The first to distribute books on the iOS platform they also are a participant in the Open Web For Books group.
The Free Library offers a large collection of full text classic works as well as a large library of periodicals.
Free Online
Here you will find an extensive collection of links to free online novels, organized by genre.
Google Books This is a tricky one. Google has lots of public domain and other books available for free as .pdf files. They also recently launched the Google e-Bookstore where one can purchase books. Depending upon the book you may or may not be able to read it on your Kindle but it is worth a try. The general rule of thumb is that when a book is out of copyright or they have permission from the publisher or author you should be able to download it to your computer and then transfer it to your Kindle.
The Internet Archive
(from their About page) The Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded to build an Internet library. Its purposes include offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format. Founded in 1996 and located in San Francisco, the Archive has been receiving data donations from Alexa Internet and others. In late 1999, the organization started to grow to include more well-rounded collections. Now the Internet Archive includes texts, audio, moving images, and software as well as archived web pages in our collections, and provides specialized services for adaptive reading and information access for the blind and other persons with disabilities.
features writers of original fiction, non-fiction and poetry. This independent publisher is always open not only to new readers but new talent as well. A source of eBooks - all free.
Munsey’s Books A site aimed at mobile readers it is not the most attractive but there are a lot of books there.
National Yiddish Book Center
The world’s most comprehensive supplier of Yiddish books, the National Yiddish Book Center has helped establish Yiddish collections at more than 600 great libraries, including Harvard, Yale, Library of Congress, the British Library, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and national libraries in countries as distant as Australia, China and Japan. In 1998, the Center's Steven Spielberg Digital Yiddish Library made high-quality reprints available on demand. Since then they have placed the full texts of 11,000 Yiddish titles online through our Digital Yiddish Library, where they are easily downloaded, free of charge. Yiddish, once the most endangered of literatures, is now the safest and most accessible. The link will take you there.
O’Reilly Publisher of books dealing with computer coding and languages.
PhoenixPick offers one free book per month, and many times these are books that are for sale for a $9.99 price from the Amazon Kindle store. Titles are primarily Science Fiction. In addition to the Kindle format, they offer books in other ereader formats such as the nook and iPad. Sign up for their e-mail newsletter to find out what the free book of the month is and the code you need to use to get it for free.
Project Gutenberg It's Project Gutenberg - the very first e-book site.
Project Gutenberg Australia Similar to Project Gutenberg above it makes it easier to find Australian books and takes Australian copyright laws into account.
Smash Words Fantastic site. Lots of self-published books for sale and for free.
Synerge Books: Some free books and short stories on this site. Everything downloads as a .pdf file.
The Sin Shoppe (haven’t fully explored it yet – but so far no sin! ) A free Kindle book site. Free books in over 80 languages!

Should you find any more free book sites or have comments on these sites please let me know below. Thanks and Happy Reading!


  1. Also anyone without an ebook reader can view most of these ebooks on your computer by installing software from Amazon and Barnes And Noble.

  2. Great resource list! Like Stephen, I use Kindle for PC & Nook for PC on my netbook and home computers while I wait for the "format wars" and sharing options to sort out.

    Blogging YA books beyond the bestsellers at

  3. Wow this is a very comprehensive list- I discovered the Project Gutenberg years ago (when I was living in Ghana)- and would read the books on the computer- it helped with my kids' book reports...reading some of the great classics.

    I'm amazed at how many MORE e-book sites there are- and FREE - wow!! I own a Nook- and I had never thought I would like it, but I travel quite a bit and it is great to just take one slim Nook rather than 4 big books- and my Nook has ALL my books on it. Of course, the Nook will NEVER replace my REAL books- because I just love having a real book on my bookshelf- to sometimes take down and leaf through- and read over! :)

  4. I have an email version of this post that gets updated when I discover or people share new links with me. If you want to be added to that send me an email privately and I'll gladly put you on the list. It will be a rehash of this post with new links just added in.