For all of us addicted readers, we know that the cost of the ereaders that curate our ebooks is minor compared to the cost of the ebooks we are reading. The books of many best-selling authors cost just as much if you purchase them digitally as print though there is no cost of paper, machinery, distribution, shelfspace–all that. Still, I am getting used to digital books and like them better for a lot of reasons–I can write on the pages without getting arrested, I can bring ten books in case I don’t like the first five, they are light-weight, the font can be enlarged (that’s a new appreciation as I get older).
But, it’s increasingly difficult to find affordable ebooks. Thankfully, the library now offers Kindles (or similar) with the digital book on it at no cost. I know over time, they’ll get a bigger selection but right now, they’re just getting into it. Here’s a list of free book sources I like:
Bookopolis is a large collection of fiction and nonfiction books for ages 7-12. Here, students can read, get ideas for new books, comment on books, and earn badges and points to reflect their love of reading. Educators sign up with a Teacher account and then set up classes and accounts for students. Students can practice persuasive writing, comprehension, and typing skills by completing reviews, reports, and reading logs online. Parents can sign up home accounts to help students keep track of favorite books. Available books include Newbery Award Winners as well as many other reader collections. Kids can even watch book trailers before making a selection.
Books can be read online or on most mobile devices.
A free collection of the most popular public domain pieces in classic literature (Shakespeare, Jane Austen and more)
By Bartleby. An extensive collection by the preeminent internet publisher of literature, reference and verse providing students, researchers and the intellectually curious with unlimited access to books and information on the web, free of charge.
This site provides thousands of digitized books, audio recordings, DVDs/CDs from the public domain (or out-of-copyright). This includes Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Sherlock Holmes, A Tale of Two Cities, Heart of Darkness, and more. These are great for all ages to not only read but research topics that might have been well-covered years ago but not so much now (like primitive tribes).
You can read them online, on a mobile device, or download them.
The ICDL offers over 4,600 digital children’s books in over 59 languages that exhibit tolerance and respect for diverse cultures, languages, and ideas. Books are made available from a variety of sources including the Library of Congress. Readers search by title, author, country, or category (or several other options such as ISBN). By setting up an account, readers can add tags to books and organize them according to their preference. Many ICDL books are classified as “activities” meaning they are perfect for digital story times, scavenger hunts, and creative writing exercises.
Most books are only available through the website or a link to the website.
Internet Archive offers over 12,000,000 freely downloadable books and texts. There is also a collection of 550,000 modern eBooks that may be borrowed by anyone with a free archive.org account.
Free public domain audio books that can be listened to on computers, iPods or other mobile devices, even burned onto a CD.
Free public domain audiobooks and ebooks in many genres, for all ages.
Over 33,000 ebooks that can be browsed by language, author, title.
My Books is an app that includes over 51,305 free books of various genres, even nonfiction. You can read online or download and read offline. There are also 5,199 audiobooks.
Listing over 2 million free books on the Web that can be searched by author, title, series, and keyword. They also offer news and other special features.
Open Library is a curated list of over 20 million books (and growing) that are available worldwide to all age groups whether from the public domain or under copyright protections. Once you find a book, you access a scanned version (if available, say from Project Gutenberg) or purchase it at a linked bookstore.
Access this catalog via the website.
A wide collection of genres included, for all ages.
World Cat is a comprehensive curation of books, CDs, articles, videos, and more available at all libraries in a geographic area or around the world, for all age groups. This includes not only public libraries but colleges and universities. Once you’ve located a resource, you check it out from that local library. You can get help from a librarian, leave comments and reviews, even factual notes (much like Wikipedia).
World Cat only includes libraries that have joined the World Cat group.
More on reading
Forget Summer Reading. The Classics are Timeless
National Poetry Day
Unconventional Research Sites for Writers
My Research at the Library of Congress
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the upcoming Born in a Treacherous Time. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.