6 Places to Get Free Books Online

by Derwood Hunsdale-Talbot on October 1, 2010

Love ’em or hate ’em, eBooks are here to say (and so are those dastardly eBook readers). While most bibliophiles have a deep-seeded obsession with the physical manifestation of a book, I have begrudgingly started exploring the world of e-reading devices. You should could too.

Because e-readers like the Kindle and the Nook and the iPad are far from free, it is worth it to get your eyes practiced to seeing print in digital before you invest. It takes some getting used to – and some of us never will. So, to test if e-reading is right for you at no extra cost, I’ve compiled my favorite sources of online literature. These are the places you can go to read without having to interact with anyone: librarians, book-store employees, Amazon customer service employees, your roommates, your spouse. No one.

Note: I don’t necessarily condone this antisocial behavior.

Books for Free! Online! It’s Amazing!

  1. Project Gutenberg: And what a project it is! By far the most famous (and oldest) free book site, PG (as it is fondly referred to) has over 33,000 books that you can download on practically any device – PC, eReader, iPod, smart phone.
    Perks: PG goes beyond Western lit to include cookbooks, periodicals, and dramatic works.
    Downside: Everything in PG’s archives has been released from copyright restrictions. It’s a great place to find Anna Karenina; it’s not so great to find Bella and Edward.
  2. OnRead: An online readers community, OnRead gives you the opportunity to download books to your personal electronic devices at a low cost or stick around onsite and read them for free.
    Perks:Contemporary books! Best sellers! A huge variety of genres – even some naughty stuff. And, from what I can understand, the more involved you are with the OnRead community, writing reviews and making comments, you can start building up your credit, allowing you to download books for keeps for free.
    Downside: The formatting of each page can get a little bit wonky. It’s still 100% readable, but it looks like crap.
  3. Baldwin Online Children’s Project: Kids books to read online (no download) with a tendency to the classics. And when I say classics, I mean classics. Like Aesop’s Fables, not Where the Wild Things Are.
    Perks: The site has the books divided into genres of children’s lit so you know what you are getting yourself into without having to start reading.
    Downside: No kid these days is going to find these books interesting.
  4. Book Glutton: Equal parts free domain books and social media, Book Glutton is a place for people to read and then immediately talk about what they read. This is great for people who want to be in a book club but don’t have any friends.
    Perks: It’s a pretty website.
    Downside: There’s nothing new/contemporary on here. As there is no Margaret Atwood for free, the site is basically worthless to me.
  5. MeatBook: This is just a cookbook containing 204 recipes from the 50s just for ground meats. It is strange and disturbing, and are there really 204 ways to make a hamburger?! This is an entirely useless resource, but that doesn’t diminish it’s incredible-ness.
    Perks: Mushroom-Cheese sauce (page 11)
    Downside: cholesterol
  6. Wowio: I like this site because it is one of the only ones that features comic books. What I hate about this site is that I can’t tell how you get said comic books for free. I’m positive you can – I have heard from mostly-reputable Comic Con sources that you can. I tried for 3 minutes to do it myself, and couldn’t figure it out, but that doesn’t mean it’s un-doable. There was something about joining the weird wowio world, which I didn’t feel like doing. Maybe a Wowio fan can leave a helpful comment?
    Perk: Comics.
    Downside: I’m too tired to figure out how to get my comics for free.

As always, please leave your own favorite free e-book sites – and e-book opinions – in the comments!

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