Finding and Reading free ebooks

Finding and Reading free ebooks

Update: This post is part of my crime reading challenge. You will find my completed reading challenge which includes my tips and a summary of each author and their novels on my Top 100+ Crime and Mystery Novels list page. I wrote the following posts in addition to this post as part of this reading challenge:


As a result of working my way through classic and golden age of detective fiction I’ve become skilled in finding and reading free ebooks as the paper versions can be hard to source for the books I’m wanting to read.

While I was experienced with reading ebooks purchased from Amazon I had been reluctant to access free ebooks and eResources because the instructions on how to download and read seemed so much harder compared to reading ebooks in the Kindle app.

Isn’t hard once you know how and I wish I made time years ago to learn how to access free eResources.

Here is a summary of my tips for finding free eBooks and I describe each option in detail below.  

Finding free ebooks

Local Library

Local libraries often offer free access to ebooks through services such as OverDrive and BorrowBox which you can borrow using your library card.  Find out what eResources your local library has to offer by checking their website and if you don’t have a library card you’ll probably be able to sign up for a library card online.

Install their app on your mobile device if available as it is easier to find and read the ebooks within their apps.

These services provide an extensive range of modern books as well as some of the older classics I’m reading.

Besides ebooks I read our local newspaper for free as well as access eMagazines using the RB Digital Magazine app.

Here’s an example of search results in the Libby app. You click on Borrow and then read the book directly in the app.

Faded Pages

Fadedpages is an archive of ebooks provided by volunteers all over the World who convert the books into a digital format and release them as public domain books.  It performs a similar function to Project Gutenberg in the United States and Project Gutenberg Australia.  It’s my first choice for public domain ebooks as I find their site easier to navigate and they provide epub formats of their books which I can download for reading in iBooks on my iPad.  Project Gutenberg Australia doesn’t have epub formats of all books and I find Text and HTML formats harder to read compared reading in iBooks or using the Kindle app.

Sites like Fadedpages, Project Gutenberg and Open library are where I may find the out of print books which I can’t source through my local library or purchase as a paper back (or hard cover).

I read books from Faded Pages as follows:

1. Go to Fadedpage and click on the Letter for the Author’s name I am searching for.

2. Scroll down the page to find the author and then click on the name of the author to go their Author’s page.

Authors page

3.  Click on the title of the book I want to read.

4.  Click on the epub format to download and open up the ebook in iBooks.

Click on epub

Here’s an example of what an ebook from Fadedpages looks like in iBooks:

ebook from fadepages

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg is the oldest digital library and is a volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works.  Their library has over 60,000 free ebooks and their focus is on older works for which USA copyright has expired.  Affiliated projects for copyright for other countries include:

I read books from Project Gutenberg using the same process as Fadedpages.  Click on the epub format of the book I want to read to download and open up the ebook in iBooks.

Open Library

Open library is a project of the Internet Archive and provides online access to many public domain and out of print books.  Open Library is the site I use for harder to books that aren’t available from other sites as ebooks because their collection includes scanned copies of the books from library collections, library discards and donations.

To borrow a book from Open Library you need to create a free account and install Abode Digital Editions (if reading on an iPad).  The Internet Archive has also launched the National Emergency Library offering free access to 1.4 million free books during the coronavirus pandemic for people who can’t access a normal classroom or public library and is available until US ends its national emergency.

You borrow a book from Open Library or the National Emergency Library as follows:

1. Log into your Open Library account.

2.  Tap Borrow next to the book you want to read.

Borrow book

3.  This opens the book inside their online reader.  Tap on the More menu to download the book onto your device.

Click on More link

4.  Tap on the Loan Information link and tap on Encrypted Abode PDF High Quality Page Images

Tap on Adobe PDF

5.  Tap on Open in Digital Editions.

Open in digital editions

6.  This loads as scanned pages of the book in Digital Editions. I’ve found the “Encrypted Abode PDF Smaller File.  May Contain Errors” often contains numerous errors making them harder to read.  The “Encrypted Abode PDF High Quality Page Images” versions have always been good quality and easy to read.

Here’s an example of what this format looks like:


Amazon Free eBooks

Amazon has hundreds of free to low priced ebooks that can be downloaded and read within the Kindle App. You can check out the poplar free Classics here.  The other way to find free Kindle books is to search Amazon by typing “free kindle books”.

A handy trick to know is that GoodReads is owned by Amazon. If you use the Goodreads app to read book reviews you’ll find a link to Buy on Amazon above the Book Description.  This link redirects you to Amazon where you can quickly check out the price of the Kindle version.

Good Reads link to Amazon

It’s worth checking out Kindle Unlimited if you can’t find the ebook you want to read in libraries or as a free version.  Kindle Unlimited is a subscription service for eBooks. For a monthly fee you get access hundreds of eBook, audio book, and magazine titles.  This is a cheap option if you have specific books you want to read.  I’ve subscribed to Kindle Unlimited when I’ve wanted to source specific authors and then cancelled the subscription once I’ve read the books I wanted to read.

What tips would you add?

The Internet is filled with e-book resources that you can download to read for free.  I’ve limited my review to my favorite places for finding and reading free ebooks.

What have I missed?  What tips would you add?  What else would you like to know?

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