How to Find Free eBooks

How to Find Inexpensive e-Books

With e-books becoming more and more accessible for e-readers and portable devices such as smartphones or the iPad, e-reading is becoming more common. But users may feel somewhat limited by their ability to find bargain e-books (nothing beats a used book for $1!). However, readers can find cheap and, sometimes, free e-books, if you know where to look.

If you’re in the market for an eReader, we highly suggest our article on How to Select an eReader!

Download free reading apps for your computer

You don’t need an e-reader like an Amazon Kindle to enjoy e-books. E-books can be used by anyone who has a computer or smartphone. Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, and Apple all offer free versions of their reading applications, which can be downloaded on your computer or smartphone.

Users should note that most reading apps limit the number of devices you can have on your account. For example, if you have a reading app on your smartphone and laptop, and the application allows only 5 devices at a time, then you can add only 3 more devices to your account. Users are able to disable a device from their account if needed.

Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com both have inexpensive e-books available on their websites.

Publishers have said e-books are actually less expensive than actual books because they cost less to produce and distribute. In theory, that makes sense but, if you actually visit Barnesandnoble.com or Amazon.com, readers may find hard copy books that are less expensive than the e-book version, particularly when it comes to used books. However the difference in price is usually negligible.

The standard price for e-books is $9.99, with prices going up or down depending on the popularity book and how recently it was released. This year, e-book prices started creeping up to $12.99 all the way to $14.99. E-book readers have reacted strongly to the increase, but it is essentially up to publishers and e-book sellers as to whether they will respond to readers’ complaints.

Individuals who are familiar with the sales shelves at Barnes & Noble’s bookstores will appreciate that their website has several pages just for NookBook Deals. Scroll over “NookBooks” and “NookBook Deals” will appear in the menu. Prices start at $0.99 and go up to $4 or $5. Barnes & Noble users who enjoy coupons should note that coupons do not work on e-books, but gift certificates do work at Barnes & Noble’s website.

Amazon does not have a page dedicated to inexpensive books, but their books are priced comparably to Barnes & Noble. A bestseller such as “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is priced at $5.20 and many of their books are priced at $9.99, or lower.

Finding Free eBooks

Books with expired copyrights are a popular source for free e-books. Many of these books are classics, such as Pride & Prejudice or A Tale of Two Cities. These books were written so long ago, that their copyrights are no longer protected and these stories can be distributed freely. Barnes & Noble and Amazon both offer ways to access these books.

Barnes & Noble has a whole section of their website devoted to free e-books on their website. Some of the free e-books are the first in a series of novels and the publisher is trying to gain a following for the rest of the series. Other times, the books are samples of complete novels or are novellas, which are brief novels. Barnes & Noble has also partnered with Google e-books, which is an online bookstore, but also allows users to download books with expired copyrights.

Amazon offers free books on their website and a list of the top 100 free e-books is featured on the right side of the website for the Kindle. Additional free e-books are available through outside websites: the Internet Archive, the Project Gutenberg, Open Library, and Manybooks.net. Links to these websites are posted on Amazon’s website, under “Free eBook Collections.”

Barnes & Noble users who enjoy coupons should note that coupons do not work on e-books, but gift certificates do work at Barnes & Noble’s website. However, individuals who are familiar with Barnes & Noble’s bookstores will appreciate that the store’s website has several pages just for NookBook Deals.

Borrow E-books from your local library or from another reader

Many public libraries offer e-books and audiobooks now which can be downloaded onto your computer or portable device, including i-pods. Go to your local library’s homepage and search for “e-books” or “audio books.” Make sure to check the format of the e-book if you are planning on using it with an e-reader. Many libraries offer e-books in epub format but only Sony’s and Barnes & Noble’s e-readers work with epub format.

In addition to borrowing e-books from the library, the Nook has the “LendMe” feature, which allows Nook users share some of their books with other Nook users. Publishers control whether their e-books have the “LendMe” feature and the length of time the Nook user can borrow the book.  Amazon.com does not yet have a lending feature but their website states they are in the process of creating one

Good luck and happy reading!

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