I Own 3,000 E-Books. I Paid $0: How to Build an E-Library Free

Tech Test E Reader Gift Guide
Mark Lennihan/AP
One of the highlights of my day is to browse several emails I receive that list free e-books. A lot of it is dreck (many self-published books on Kindle's free publishing platform sorely needed editors). But virtually every day, I find something interesting.

The average price of Kindle best sellers on Amazon.com (AMZN) is rising steeply. E-book prices go from 99 cents for unknown and self-published authors to $20 or more for new books from household names, such as John Grisham, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling and Dan Brown.

I now have more than 3,000 free e-books on my Kindle and iPad. Many are from Project Gutenberg, which includes books whose copyrights have expired (these are generally a century old). Other, I have borrowed from openlibrary.org (check to see if your local library participates). Authors also briefly offer their books as freemium promotions (sometimes for just a day) in hopes that you'll read them and tell all your friends about them. And bestsellers and new books do appear on these lists occasionally. These may even be available on your own public library's e-reader platform.

Free, Free, Free

These sites for free e-books span the genres, including self-help, children's fantasy, romance, mystery, Christian, erotica and nonfiction. I've found that having an Amazon account is the best access. Also, it's easy to cancel an order if by accident you buy a book that is not free.
  • You can sign up for ZeroFrictionBooks' daily email list or browse the books with the covers on the site. Links are to buy free on Amazon.
  • Bookbub.com lists deals and freebies with links to buy on Kobo from Indigo (IDGBF), Apple (AAPL), Barnes & Noble (BKS) and Amazon. It also lists when the deal expires.
  • PixelOfInk links to Amazon.
  • ChoosyBookworm links to Amazon.
  • BookGorilla.com has some freebies but mostly good deals.
  • OpenCulture.com lists free e-books as well as free movies, courses and more.
  • At Amazon, type in "free Kindle e-books." Today's list had almost 60,000 available. And you don't need a Kindle. Just search for free Kindle apps for your mobile device,
I check these almost daily since many freebies are one-day only or may only be free for Amazon Prime members. I've snapped up several financial books for free that retail for close to $100.

Write for Free E-Books

A more unusual way to get free e-books is to write brief reviews. I've written reviews on Amazon under a nom de plume, not in the hopes of garnering free books, but just to vent. Since then, I've received several offers to review books for authors. The easiest way to become a reviewer is simply to read an ebook from Amazon on your device. At the end, there will usually be a page asking for a recommendation. Write your honest thoughts, and ta-da, you're now a reviewer. A new site called StoryCartel allows you to download a book if you write a review afterward. It has its own standards available on site.

Either a Borrower or a Lender Be

Amazon Prime members can borrow many e-books for free through the Kindle Owners Lending Library You don't need Prime to lend to friends, but there are limitations -- the loan can be active for just for two weeks, for example. BookLending.com allows readers to lend to each other, risk-free. Lendle is similar, no Kindle required.

If none of these free choices satisfy you, scribd.com, often called the Netflix (NFLX) of literature gives its subscribers unlimited access to a library of 300,000 books for $8.99 a month.

Now, with all these books, you'll feel like "The Twilight Zone" book lover finding himself among countless books in a post-apocalyptic era, only wishing for enough time to read them.

(Correction: A previous version of this article understated the number of free e-books available to scribd.com subscribers by three orders of magnitude. Not having spotted this error causes your DailyFinance editors so much embarrassment that we are writing this correction note obscurely to make you, our readers, do the math.)

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Jay Drew

I am a student and use my Kindle for revision notes using Clippings.io. Was wondering if anyone had any other good site recommendations?

October 13 2014 at 12:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Carmen W Buxton

You'll notice the author says she screens before she downloads. That's the beauty of ebooks; you can always read the begining of the book for free. If you like science ficiton, you can check out my free novel here: http://carmenspage.blogspot.com/p/free-ebook.html

May 08 2014 at 11:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


May 07 2014 at 1:58 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

Please go to AMAZON and order my childrens story
"The Boy Who Loved Toy Trains" either in soft cover or e-book and read it to an enthusiastic boy who loves toy trains.

Thanks, Love you all, Shane

May 07 2014 at 1:09 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply

There is nothing more blissful than the smell of a book. By the way I sell books on Ebay and I would love to gladly crush with my car any Kindle

May 07 2014 at 12:53 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

God bless project Gutengerg!

May 07 2014 at 12:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i've only purchased longtime favorites that i like to read over and over again... for everything else, i go to my taxpayer funded library's website and download ebooks from there, or visit project gutenberg when i want to read classics...

May 06 2014 at 9:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

u can write the name of the book and .epub and u find most. dl and read. simple

May 06 2014 at 8:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

May be convenient and they work well as flashlights in a power failure, but I'd rather have the real thing. Paper and ink.

May 06 2014 at 7:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to lthrnck68's comment

i felt the same way, until the day i decided to check out mark twain's autobiography from the library... i returned it practically unread because carrying it gave me tennis elbow... however, i would only buy a reader that was also a tablet (kindle fire)... it's really liberating to have a fantastic library on some little thing you can slip into your bag... you know what else is great about it? if you don't know the meaning of a word, press it and voila!... don't remember a particular character or scene? use the search instead of flipping through 500 pages... anyway, you should give it a shot...

May 06 2014 at 9:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Don Byrd

Thieves! How irresponsible to promote stealing the livelihood of writers, editors, etc. Soon enough there will be nothing new to steal...shame on you!

May 06 2014 at 6:44 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Don Byrd's comment

idiot... if it's made available free, it isn't stealing...

May 06 2014 at 9:07 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to fifiwereking's comment


May 08 2014 at 2:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down

copyright doesn't last forever .... so by definition, it wouldn't be stealing.

May 11 2014 at 11:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply