It’s clear: E-readers are here to stay. I’m dipping my toe in oh so slowly, reading most of my non-fiction on my iPad’s Kindle app. The longer e-readers are around, the more affordable they become. But the books you read on them are getting more expensive. Luckily, you can keep control of your reading budget by finding e-books for free. Here are three great places to start your search for an entertaining, budget-maintaining read:
Project Gutenberg offers over 38,000 titles that you can download for free.
How can they do that? The books were all published long enough ago that their copyright licenses have expired. Why do they do that? According to the website:
“The Project Gutenberg Philosophy is to make information, books and other materials available to the general public in forms a vast majority of the computers, programs and people can easily read, use, quote, and search.”
If you’re thinking you won’t find anything good to read, think again. Here are some of the most downloaded titles in the last thirty days:
- The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
- Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- The Complete Works of William Shakespeare by William Shakespeare
A quick glance at the list is enough to know there’s something for everyone.
Barnes & Noble’s and Amazon’s Free e-Books
Many of the places that sell e-books online also offer a number of them for free. And not just a handful of titles. If you type in “free Nook books” to the Barnes & Noble website’s search function, you’ll find yourself sifting through 1,836,351 titles. (Luckily, you can search by category or title.)
On the Kindle e-books page at Amazon, you’ll find side-by-side lists of the top 100 selling paid books and top 100 downloaded free books. While many of these titles are the classics you’ll find at Project Gutenberg, some are contemporary fiction and non-fiction being offered for free as part of a promotional event. In those cases, the free is usually temporary.
Last week at The Family CEO, I recommended three books on organization and simplicity that you could download for free from Amazon. (All are still being offered for free. You can find them here and here.) These titles were the perfect thing to read while I was decluttering and cleaning after the holidays, and they didn’t cost a cent.
E-Books At Public Libraries
Just because you’re making the switch to electronic reading doesn’t necessarily mean you have to leave the library behind. Some libraries are loaning out e-books, just as they do physical books. The New York Public library, for instance, has over 35,000 e-book titles available for loan.
But there are growing pains involved with library lending of e-books. Book publishers are reticent to make lendable versions of e-books available to libraries, still trying to forecast the future of book selling in this digital age. My own library had to discontinue the program because of cost; but they plan on reinstituting the service soon. It may be inevitable that other libraries soon do the same.
Do you have an e-reader? Do you buy your books, rent them, or search for free ones on sites like these? Do you think e-books will replace paperbacks and hardcovers? Join the discussion in our comments section below.
Julie Mayfield is a freelance writer and blogger who writes about everything having to do with personal finance. She shares money saving and debt reduction tips on her blog, The Family CEO. When she’s not reading or writing about money, you can usually find her hanging out with her friends and family and cheering on the Kansas Jayhawks.