It should go without saying that as a writer we should always be reading. I don’t know of any writer who wanted to be a writer who wasn’t first a reader and continued on that path even after they had any kind of success as a writer. And though we have a very media-saturated global culture with videos and social media pictures and selfies, the fact of the matter remains that reading is still as popular as it will ever be and there is more content for people to read at this time in history than at any other time.
One of the things that Amazon.com did for writers is level the playing field. No longer did we have to be dependent on a publisher or an agent to get our material out there. Now, we can create content, whether it be a blog post or whether it be a full-length novel, and have it in front of people much faster than traditional publishing. This has been a boon for self-published writers as well as for readers. Now, they are no longer limited to what is on the shelves at the library or in the stores but the Internet has become a veritable cornucopia of creativity and new discovery of novels and nonfiction. I say this from personal experience.
I wrote to you before how I have this vast collection of superhero prose novels. That would not have happened if it weren’t for the Internet and Amazon.com. What that is done for me personally is expand my library to be exposed to writers I didn’t even know had material out there in the genre. It’s win-win for writer and reader.
But if you had a make a comparison between the writer and the reader then it is the reader who wins out because of that fabulous word “free.” Digital books have made it possible so readers can get myriad amounts of free books in their chosen genre preference. The Internet is now full of books services that feature all of these free deals for you discovered new authors without the risk of spending your money on something that you really are not going to enjoy. There are also other ways to receive free e-books if you’re paying attention. Since I am a reader just as much as I am a writer, I wanted to share that information with you as far as five places I have found free e-books to download.
Many times, especially with self-published authors, you can go to their website, get on their mailing list and receive free books. Just by doing a search on Amazon and going to the author’s profile, you can get a link to their website and check out to see if they have any free offers. You’ll notice that at the end of this blog post there is an opportunity for you to sign up to my mailing list and get free e-books from my Dark Corner miniseries. You can go to just about any author’s website and check to see if there’s a way for you to get some of their material for free to try them out.
BookBub is the granddaddy of them all when it comes to services that offer free or discounted e-books for sale. You can go to their website and sign up and then you will get an email which will tell you which books are on sale. This can be either daily or weekly. You can also set it up to where you’ll get an alert when your preferred author(s) has released something new and that also can be set up in your preferences.
For example, I happen to be a Terry Brooks fan and I was just sent an author alert in my email that he has a discounted book $1.99. Now, that’s not a free book but that is a really good price when they normally sell that for like eight bucks. But BookBub has plenty of free book offers that come in your email once you sign up for their list. This is a list that would be a good one to be on if you’re a copious reader and looking for fresh new authors.
These guys are similar to Bookbub. Some are .99 and others are free. They will send you a list by genre of deals on sale or free. In the graphic to the left, you’ll see the one I was sent recently and the deals for science-fiction. They can get a little happy in sending emails and the only options you have is daily or not at all which is a thumbs-down for me personally. Their website leaves something to be desired as well in terms of functionality. Bookbub has got them beat in this department. However, these guys are newcomers to the scene and showcase self-published gems you may find.
When you sign up, you will have a page where you can tick off boxes for the choices of genre preference for what deals you want to receive. At the top is a line of new releases that you can click which will take you to a new page. Scroll down to view the deals to see if any interest you.
I think this one should be a given but going to all of the online book retailers and simply doing a search for free ebooks followed by your chosen genre will get you a list of free books that you can download until your heart’s content. I have downloaded scores of free books by doing a search on Amazon alone. You can get similar results on other book retailers sites like Barnes & Nobles, Kobo, Apple Books, and Smashwords.
Of course, it’s hit or miss here as far as quality and you have to do your research. My advice would be to focus on the big four and leave Smashwords for when you’ve exhausted the others or you’re just curious.
I left this one for last. It is kind of an unsung hero of getting free ebooks but mostly, it’s not free. Some are though so it technically belongs here.
Rakuten Overdrive is the online hub for libraries all across the country. That means it’s potentially a huge repository for books. I say potentially because of how it works. You have to have the Overdrive app to do this either on your phone, tablet, or Kindle. The app is free.
When you sign up — either with your Facebook profile or library card — you add different libraries to your personal network. This process can be as long or as short as you want. For me, I added about 30 libraries in my area or nearby in about thirty seconds. To experiment with more, I went to add others to my network and a map popped up on the right-hand side with a list of the participating libraries across the state. By simply moving the map around the state, I quickly added over 100 libraries to my network. It even includes high school libraries (you have got to love the Internet). I did that as I wrote this post in under two minutes.
After you have put your network of libraries together, you can download books for free but you’re actually borrowing them. So you’re not really adding them to your personal collection but you can read the whole book. Lending times are 7, 14, and 21 days. At the end of your lending period, it will disappear from your Overdrive app library.
But there are exceptions.
Some books don’t disappear automatically because they have been transferred to a compatible e-reader. In that case, you can keep the book indefinitely but you shouldn’t because it’s copyright infringement. Overdrive makes this clear on their website. Plus, many times you can buy the book through Overdrive and it’s a price that makes some sense. So, don’t steal digital content. Support the writers and buy it if you want to own a copy.
On the flip side, there is some public domain material you can download keep as your own forever. And libraries are awesome for this kind of material.
So there you have it. My top five places to get free ebooks. It keeps me plenty busy. For some others, I suggest the excellent article on the blog The Balance called 26 Places to Get Free Ebooks. Now, maybe you have some places I haven’t listed or that’s not listed in the article. Let me know in the comments below. And as always, I’ll see you in the Tapestry.