Websites for Free eBooks

The world of reading is evolving.  This week Amazon announced that the sale of eBooks has surpassed that of print books.  With the progress in the technology and readability of eReaders the average reader has access to a wealth of books that they never have had before.  All you really need is an internet connection.

Portable Reading

There are many sites out there that offer free eBooks, however the quality is of something to be wary when downloading such books.  In my opinion several things make a “bad” eBook, the worst being advertising, that’s right advertising.  Some eBook providers insert advertising in the book itself.  While reading you may be surprised to find a full-page ad on page 29.  While some would argue that this practice covers the cost of providing the book for free, I would prefer to enjoy my book ad free.

Another consideration is quality.  The word ‘quality’ seems oddly paired with something virtual like an eBook.  However, you can stumble upon some poorly edited and formatted versions of eBooks.  As most of the sources for free eBooks come from the efforts sites like Archive.org to digitize works in the public domain, there are unfortunately frequent problems that arise during the scanning process.  For example, letters can be mistaken for other letters, page formating can cause sentences to be cut, and in some cases entire pages may go missing, making the enjoyable  experience of reading a frustrating one.

The following sites are sites that have taken great care and even pride in providing quality eBooks free of charge.  This list is not exclusive and it is rather designed to share my experience in the hunt for free (and legal) eBooks.

1) Feedbooks

Feedbooks.com

Feedbooks (http://feedbooks.com)

Founded in 2007 Feebooks was the first service to support the ePub format, now widely regarded as the standard for eBooks and eBook readers. Personally speaking Feedbooks is my default site when looking for something to read.  Their eBooks are top  quality well-edited and compatible with just about any eReaders on the market.  Downloading is straightforward and fast in all formats.

  • Languages offered: Eng., Fr., Ger. & Sp
  • Site readable in: Fr. & Eng.
  • Estimated number of free eBooks: English 6,475 ( 1,642 contemporary/creative commons & 4,834 classic/public domain) French 1,350
  • Formats available: PDF, Kindle & EPUB

2) Manybooks

Manybooks.net

The best books for the best price: free!

Manybooks (http://manybooks.net)

Their slogan says it all “The best books at the best price: free!”    Manybooks collection currently numbers at 29,000 free books either in the public domain or possessing a creative commons license.  They work closely with the Project Gutenberg and use conversion software to create the formats offered in their library.

  • Languages offered:  36 different languages
  • Site readable in: Eng.
  • Number of free eBooks: 29,000
  • Formats offered: EPUB, Pdb, PDF, fb2, html, Kindle, mobipocket, txt & RTF (formats offered could vary with book)

3) Baen Free Library

Baen Books (http://baen.com)

Geared for the fans of Science Fiction and Fantasy.  The Baen Free Library provides a handful of quality eBooks by new and evolving authors.

  • Languages offered: Eng.
  • Site readable in: Eng.
  • Number of free eBooks: ~125
  • Formats offered: EPUB, RTF, Kindle, mobipocket, HTML, & RTF

4) Short Stories at East of the Web

Short Stories at East of the Web (http://short-stories.co.uk)

The site is limited in terms of formats available, but not at all limited in the variety and number of stories available.  Covering every genre of literature, they feature old and new authors alike, from classic to contemporary.  The site is easily searchable and intuitively designed for browsing.  Format is limited to HTML and PDB, but can easily be converted to a format compatible with an eBook reader.  NB: A great site for educators.

  • Languages offered: Eng.
  • Site readable in: Eng.
  • Number of free eBooks: Over 1000
  • Formats offered: HTML & PDB

5) Daily Lit

Daily Lit (http://dailylit.com)

A site and concept unlike all the others.  Basically reading by installment.  Choose a book from the wide selection of eBooks and have it delivered to you serialized in bite sized portions in a schedule you can handle.  For example, I experimented with the Scarlet Letter.  I chose to have a chapter delivered every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at 2PM to my email address.  I’ve received 30 installments thus far with 53 yet to go.  The format is limited; by email or RSS, but easily convertible to eBook friendly formats, and if you have a smart phone, you can read each installment directly in your email client.

  • Languages offered: Eng., Fr., Ger., It., & Span.
  • Site readable in: Eng.
  • Number of free books: 947
  • Formats offered: Email & RSS

6) The Internet Archive

Text Archive

The Internet Archive (http://archive.org)

One of 2 of the most ambitious projects in cyberspace.  The Internet archive is dedicated to “offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format.”  The site is vast and while they continually receive new documents the current count of digitized texts is a whopping 2,186,449.  While the formats available vary with each book, generally the most used formats are available.  The only drawback can be the quality.  Again this varies book by book, since the digitizing process is automated the resulting text can contain many misreads by the scanner when converted into electronic formats.

  • Languages available: Every major world language and even dead languages
  • Site readable in: Eng.
  • Number of free eBooks: 2,186,449
  • Formats offered: EPUB, PDF, HTML, Kindle, Daisy, DjVU, MP3 et. al.

7) Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg (http://gutenberg.org)

Pretty much where it all began.  Way back in 1992 Project Gutenberg began digitizing books.  PG continues to digitize and make the books available to all as a source material for the creation of eBooks and print books.  PG’s mission simply stated is: “To encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks”.

  • Languages available: 59 different world languages
  • Site readable in: Eng. & Port.
  • Number of free eBooks: 33,000 from PG, +100,000 through partnerships and affiliates.
  • Formats offered: HTML, EPUB, Kindle, Plucker, .txt, et. al.

I hope you find this non-exclusive list useful. As this is just a list of sites that I’ve had experience with,  I will be appending this post as I discover new providers of free eBooks.  I would also like to invite you to list any sites that you would like to recommend to others in the comment section below.

Happy reading!!!

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