Project Gutenberg has free downloads of public domain works in .txt .html and .epub formats. They were all created by volunteers over the past 15+ years. These aren’t high quality digital books, but they are free and without DRM, so you can read them on just about any device.
Scribd is a service where users can upload their own documents to share with others. You can download those documents or embed them into your website. Not all of the documents are books, but there are lots of books included.
This site has all legal free downloadable ebooks. I couldn’t find anything on the website saying which formats the ebooks are in, but my guess is that most are PDF.
This is a small but growing collection of free ebooks. Downloads are either PDF or ePub. Some are samples but most are full books by modern authors.
MemoWare has a ton of documents and files that are formatted for different devices. They used to advertize devices like Palm and Pocket PC, but now their website says their files also work on Kindle and Nook.
Amazon has an entire section of their website with free Kindle ebooks.
Adobe has a collection of free sample ebooks that you can download for Adobe Digital Editions. They are PDF and ePub formats.
Free ebooks organized into categories. Some are online and some are links to other websites for a download.
This is a big index of free books that you can find online or for download in PDF format. You could kind of consider it a Wikipedia for free ebooks.
Here is a great free online personality test that will help you find out your personality type according to the Myers Briggs theory based on Jung.
With the free account option you can get access to HTML ebooks and up to 5 downloads in PDF or TXT.
There are lots of people who unwrapped shiny new eReaders over this past Christmas weekend. This blog is largely written for those who are new to the world of ebooks and e-reading devices, so I try to help folks out with learning the basics.
Perhaps the best place to start might be with my post of eBook Terms for Newbies. That will help you get familiar with some commonly used terms that you might not have been aware of before. Making yourself comfortable with those terms will help you when you start trying to follow instructions for downloading ebooks and using your eReader.
Last year I wrote a post titled “You got an eBook Reader as a gift. Now what?” It gives you a solid set of guidelines to use when learning how your new eReader functions. I really recommend reading that if you’re using your first eReader. The information will help you avoid many of the common problems that people run into, and it should also generally help you learn how to work with your eReader.
My “Top 5 Reasons Why Your eBook Isn’t Opening” is a good place to look when you’re having trouble. It covers hardware issues, software issues, and DRM issues.
If you need help with Adobe Digital Editions, or would just like to learn more about it before you use it, check out these posts:
Adobe Digital Editions — An overview of authorizing and using the program.
How To Authorize Your eReader for Adobe Digital Editions — Step by step instructions.
ACSM Files — What they are and how to work with them. Hint: they are not ebooks!
How To Change the Authorized Adobe ID — Learn how to switch the Adobe ID that your computer is authorized with.
If you’re using a new iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch, and you want to read ebooks with Adobe DRM (that were not purchased through Apple’s iBooks) I recommend Bluefire Reader. My Bluefire Reader post has really detailed step-by-step instructions for how to authorize it and how to transfer your ebooks to your device through iTunes.
Likewise, if you’ve got a new Android toy (smartphone or tablet) you can take a look at my post about Aldiko, the recommended app for ebook reading on Android.
If you’ve got pretty much anything other than a new Kindle, you can download some free ebooks here. That’s a great way to test out your eReader since if you make a mistake it won’t cost you anything.
Overall, here are my most basic recommendations for using a new eReader:
1. Learn which ebook formats your device is able to read.
2. Before buying any ebooks, make sure the website you’re using can support your eReader.
3. Take a moment to read your manual and learn the basic functionality of your eReader.
4. Always follow posted instructions! Don’t skip anything.
There are many places to find free ebook downloads online, but there are a few big, reliable, places where you can get a ton of free ebooks safely and easily. Here are my favorites:
I recently wrote up an overview of how you can use the Google eBookStore. The ebooks come in PDF and EPUB for a variety of different devices with the Google Books app, or use on the web. Go directly to the free ebooks.
eBookMall has a section devoted to free ebooks. All are ebook downloads that are totally free. It seems like some are only available for a limited time, as a promotional effort by authors or publishers.
Project Gutenberg has been around for a long time. They started with OCR scanning of public domain books into .txt files, and now they have available HTML, ePub, Kindle, and more.
Amazon Kindle Store
You can get a ton of ebooks for free from Amazon in Kindle format. Like the paid ebooks, you can use them on a Kindle device or in a Kindle app for your computer or other devices. Go to amazon.com/kindle-ebooks/ to get to the Kindle eBook Store, then find the Top 100 Free listing on the right side of the page, a little ways down.
These ebooks aren’t downloadable, but there is a nice selection of classic popular texts that you can read free online. Useful for school projects or study, if they have what you need.
The BeBook store has 20,000 free classic titles available for download. The free ebooks come in plain text and PDF, and can be used on any computer or device.
The eReader program has undergone some changes in ownership and names over the years. It used to be heavily associated with Palm, being called “Palm Reader” then “Palm eReader,” and now it simply goes by “eReader”. (In fact, if you install it on Windows, it will go in a folder called Palm Digital Media.) Its website shows that it was bought by Barnes & Noble at some point, and it is now run by the same people that operate Fictionwise.
eReader is another versatile program, like Mobipocket, that can be used on many different types of devices.
As of October 2010, this is a list of the device types that are supported by eReader:
- iPhone and iPod Touch
- Windows Mobile
- Pocket PC 2002&earlier, 2003&later
The DRM that eReader employs is quite easy to work with. Instead of making you register for an account and authorize the software, you just enter two “unlock codes” when you open the ebook: your name and your credit card number.
At first, the idea of entering your credit card number sounds strange and even scary for some people, but if you think about it from a DRM standpoint, it makes perfect sense. If a person gave away the ebook to a friend, he would also have to give away his credit card number so that the friend could open the ebook. Following that reasoning, if this person went further and posted the ebook on a torrent site, he’d have to give his credit card number away to everyone on the internet.
A tip about the name: in my experience I have noticed that some people get confused about how exactly they should be entering their name. The name you enter should match up with whatever you registered on the website where you bought the ebook. The confusion that arises is that this is not necessarily the exact name that is shown on your credit card. So, don’t enter the name as shown on your credit card. Enter the name that you gave to the retail website when making your purchase. The ebook doesn’t know what’s printed on your credit card.
free eReader books
eReader has a list of free ebooks that you can download. That gives you a good opportunity to test out the software on your device to see if you like it before you purchase anything. However, you do have to register an account and verify a real credit card number for the free ebooks.