Top 12 sites for free and legal ebooks you download right now

December 5, 2008

Great sites for free ebooks I began reading ebooks on my computer and various handheld devices at least ten years ago.  Over the years I have acquired over 1,062 ebooks from one online bookstore alone.  Free ebooks have also been a source of hours of enjoyable reading and finding free ebooks is relatively easy if you know where to look.

One of the first hurdles is which ebook reader to choose.  There are several out there for both computer reading and smartphone, handheld reading.  Mobipocket reader, Microsoft Reader, eReader, Plucker, are all programs that you can download on your PC to read books.  There are ebook reader devices like Sony’s ereaders, Amazon’s Kindle, the Hie Book, IRex Iliad, and others, most of which have their own proprietary reading programs.

Once you have your reading device or program, where do you find ebooks especially free ones.

If you like science fiction, you’ll want to check out the Baen Free Library.  Here you can find a number of books by such renowned sci-fi authors as David Weber, K. D. Wentworth, David Drake, Eric Flint, Fred Saberhagen, Mercedes Lacky, and Rosemary Edghill.  The books can be downloaded in a variety of formats for reading with your ebook reader of choice.

Another place to find free ebooks is Fictionwise. Fictionwise free ebooks are generally books that are in the public domain like Emma by Jane Austin, or The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton.  All of these books are also offered in a variety of ereader formats.  Fictionwise also offers a large selection of ebooks and short stories ranging in price from less than a dollar to $6.  More expensive ebooks can also be purchased at Fictionwise, but there is such a large selection of low cost ebooks that you can spend years reading your way through them.

MobileRead offers a lot of public domain free ebooks.  Well known authors like Tennyson, Twain, Trollope, and Hans Christian Anderson, Poul Anderson, and Beatrix Potter can be found here along with obscure authors and works by the infamous “Anonymous”.  More obscure works by well known authors are included as well as such books as Alcoholics Anonymous: Big Book.  The books can be found in a variety of formats.  Not all books are offered in all formats.

The best known but most difficult to use source of free books is Project Gutenberg.  This site has the most comprehensive collection of free ebooks in a variety of languages including Chinese, Spanish, and Sanskrit.  Unlike books offered on the other sites mentioned so far, Project Gutenberg does not offer books in common ebook reader formats.  All books are in HTML (the language used by websites), and plain text which can be read using Microsoft Notepad.  Neither form makes for easy reading or allows you to change font, font size or any other aspect of the reading experience.

Manybooks offers free ebooks of new and old fiction, and non-fiction.  Many of the books are Project Guttenberg titles that have been formatted for the many different ebook reading programs and readers, a more pleasurable reading experience than HTML or plain text.

Memoware is another excellent source of free ebooks.  Resource books, literature, fiction, non-fiction can be found at Memoware.  Again the books are in various formats and not always the same formats.  This site is geared specifically for reading ebooks on PDAs.

WOWIO offers free ebooks that can be read on its site or you can download the books in PDF format for 99-cents.  Not only can you find fiction, you can find graphic novels here.

If you are a Cory Doctorow fan, he has released many of his books as free ebooks that can be downloaded from his site.  All of his free ebooks are science fiction and are released under a Creative Commons License.

Mobipocket provides free software and ebooks as well as purchasable ebooks.  The books are offered in a variety of languages and the software works on a variety of devices and PCs.

eReader also provides free software and ebooks.  This is also an online bookstore as is Mobipocket and Fictionwise.  All three sell a variety of ebooks including business, non-fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and romance ebooks.  Some of these are backlist books by popular and well known authors as well as their current works.

Science Fiction Publisher Tor, offers one free ebook bi-monthly to those who register on its website.  Tor also has a variety of short stories and artwork that can be read and viewed free online.

If you are into romance, All Romance eBooks offers quite a few freebies, some of which are for adults only and may contain subject matter offensive to some.  On the other hand, All Romance eBooks has tame downloads as well.

All of these sites offer hours of great free reading ebook style.  Check them all out and sample a book here and there.

 

You may also be interested in looking at David Cassel’s compilation of the Top 40 best ebooks of all time.

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