We all love books and we love to read. That’s why you’re here reading a book blog. Well, maybe you just stumbled upon this post and weren’t expecting it to be about books. I hope you stick around.
Having a reading habit is possibly one of the healthiest habits to have. However, with the benefits of a good book, comes financial burdens that put limits on what we can read or what we can eat. There is a light at the end of this tunnel though. Books don’t have to break your bank account!
It’s not a new concept to be able to read freely. Ever since the cost of producing books drastically decreased and they were made widely available, libraries of all kinds started popping up. In today’s world almost all of these libraries offer patrons the chance to read books for free. This is common knowledge, but there’s a point I’ll get to…
The great thing about living in the digital age of books is that readers aren’t tethered to the physical library any more. While the actual library is an important institution for any community (they aren’t there just for holding books, but offer many programs and events essential to their community), having libraries offer digital collections expands access and ease of patronage.
You may recall that earlier this year I finally got a library card, after being without one for many years. How many books have I taken out of the library so far? None. But, I have borrowed a handful of both ebooks and audiobooks from them. Without getting into the politics of libraries, for me, this is supporting my local branch as much as I can without transport to the building itself being easy to obtain. And at the same time, it’s access to free books to feed my reading habit.
An offshoot of the library that’s becoming more popular around the country, and I’m sure the world, is little free libraries. These are normally small enclosed bookshelves on sidewalks near a person’s home. You walk by and borrow a book and maybe add one of your own to the collection, or bring one back when you’re done reading. It’s a great way to get people reading a variety of books, and to maybe give away some books from your collection you think can find a better home through a free library. I found out that there’s one not too far from my library, in town, and while it’s out of the main flow of foot traffic, I hope it has a steady flow of readers visiting it.
Maybe libraries aren’t the way you want to go. Maybe you want to “own” books and go back to them whenever you want. Here’s where ebooks and audiobooks come back into the conversation. There are many resources online to obtain free digital books and I’ll list out a few for you to check out. And don’t worry. These are all legal sites. With a combination of using sites from this list and use of your local library, there’s no reason why piracy should look appetizing. The resources are there to read at little to no cost, so why not keep it legal.
- PROJECT GUTENBERG – I’m sure many of you have heard about Project Gutenberg. This is the ultimate site for free ebooks online. The only limitation is that the books are all from pre-1923 (with a few exceptions). So if you’re looking for a classic book, 99.999% of the time you’ll find it here. It’ll also be in any digital format you need. The reason these are all free, and legally so, is because PG is populated with public domain (out of copyright) books. Many libraries, Amazon, and other major retailers will also have these versions loaded onto their sites. (note that this is for public domain books in the US. Each country has their own laws and I think a site for themselves. I know Australia has one with different titles than the US site.)
- LIBRIVOX.ORG – Think of this as the audiobook equivalent of Gutenberg. This site is filled with all the public domain books narrated by volunteer readers. It’s one of the ways I’ve gotten through many classic books. And we all know how expensive audiobooks can be. Free narrations are a blessing, and these volunteers are doing readers a great service.
- AMAZON, B&N, KOBO, SMASHWORDS, ETC -I already mentioned that these sites are loaded with the public domain books for free. And we all probably know what I’ll say next: There are THOUSANDS of free books from legit retailers, like those listed above. I didn’t bother with linking because it’s easier to let you search for yourselves. Want a book in a specific genre? Search it, and sort low-to-high by price. Want to see if an author’s offering books for free? Search the author, sort, again. It’s simply and a great way to discover new authors. I know many of my favorite authors came from discovering them randomly like this. Yes, you will have to weed through a lot of duds, however you’d like to do that is up to you. I’m not being judgmental in this post. Helping weed the garden of books is a topic for another day.
- (Another topic for another day is subscription services. For example Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited. Just to touch on it briefly…don’t come to me telling me your book is “#Free on #KU” because it’s not. It’s “free” because someone paid the $9.99 each month to use the service. Don’t falsely advertise that. Just tell is like it is. *rant over*)
Are there more places to get legal free books? Of course. I only touched the major ones that I use almost every day. I barely have an income. I make a few cents a month by selling my books, when I sell them. We all need a little help sometimes, so go out and explore the free book world. I know it’s the only way I was able to jump into the book world as deep as I have. My print collection may be massive, but it was also years of work, and filled with mostly cheap used books. Nothing to be ashamed of. Reading is reading. And if we don’t feed our habits, we might do something drastic…like turn on a TV *gasp*