Renaissance scholar, Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus, is reputed to have said, “When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.”  Even the most avid reader will agree that Erasmus had to make some unfortunate choices. It’s a pity because had he lived today, he could have been assured of clothes on his back, a full stomach AND his fill of books to read. For in the 21st century, there is a tremendous volume of e-books available free online. Thank G for the internet!

Whether it is the classics you seek to broaden your mind or just an idle novel for entertainment, you can get it gratis on one of these sites, without breaking any laws or encouraging piracy.

Project Gutenberg:

Whether it is Dickens you seek or the afore-mentioned Erasmus, this is the go-to website for all books that are now in the public domain. No other site offers so many downloadable formats, along with an option to read online.

  • Sign-in required: No
  • Read Online: Available
  • Download: All common formats
  • Reviews/Ratings: Sadly, neither

Google Playstore:

This free e-book resource is available as an app and a website, and has an eclectic collection of books besides the classics.

  • Sign-in required: Yes (Google account)
  • Read Online: Not available
  • Download: Only within the app
  • Reviews/Ratings: Both

Open Library (openlibrary.org):

This visionary page offers Shakespeare, Austen et al to read and download, while other books can be borrowed once you sign up and log in. Bonus: Many of the books are scanned copies of old editions with the original illustrations.

  • Sign-in required: No
  • Read Online: Available
  • Download: ePub, PDF
  • Reviews/Ratings: Neither

Manybooks.net:

It has over 33,000 e-books (across genres) that you can download without signing in, just by putting up with a few pesky ads. Totally worth it!

  • Sign-in required: No
  • Read Online: Available
  • Download: All common formats
  • Reviews/Ratings: Neither

 

Free-ebooks.net:

Self-proclaimed champion of “new, independent writers”, this site has a limited collection of fiction (no thrillers, intriguingly), and an extensive collection of other books of varying merit.

  • Sign-in required: Yes
  • Read Online: No
  • Download: Yes, formats vary with books
  • Reviews/Ratings: Both

Feedbooks:

Yet another source for independently published free e-books (by authors you’ve never heard of), besides public domain books. This site also has an associated app- Aldiko Book Reader – with a pleasing interface.

  • Sign-in required: No
  • Read Online: No
  • Download: ePub
  • Reviews/Ratings: Neither

PDF Books World:

A no-frills site that will offer you convenient pdf versions of public domain books, at the price of a free sign-up.

  • Sign-in required: Yes
  • Read Online: No
  • Download: PDF
  • Reviews/Ratings: Neither

Those of you who’ll read pretty much anything you can’t get your hands on (including unnecessarily long restaurant menus) must be pretty excited by this list. Aside from a new release by a favorite author, there is little that excites a bookworm more than free books. And those of you who read through hoping to find links to free Harry Potter books, well, shame on you. If we want authors to keep creating magic, we have to be willing to pay for it.

By Sweta Vinod

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