How to Download Free Ebooks
By Brian Jung
Updated September 28, 2017
Much public domain literature, both obscure and well-known, is available for free on sites such as Project Gutenberg and Google Books. Downloading free eBooks onto your computer is easier than downloading DRM-protected private domain books and, in most cases, transferring the titles to an eReader, tablet or smartphone requires no special software. While most free books are available in a number of formats, it's important to consider what will be compatible with your device or software before downloading. Adobe Digital Editions, as well as the Nook, the newer Sony eReader and Google eReaders use the ePub format. The Kindle uses its own proprietary Kindle format or MobiPocket. Some older eReaders use other, rarer formats. Most readers can also display text (.txt) or PDF files. Even if you can't find the book in the format you need, a tool like Calibre can quickly and legally convert any DRM-free eBook from most formats to almost any other formats.
Browse to Project Gutenberg.
Search for a book. Use the "Search Book Catalog" text box to search for a book title or the author you want.
Select a book by clicking on the title from the list returned by a search. A list of download formats will be displayed.
Find the format that you prefer or that your software or device can read. Click on the link and your browser will download the file to your downloads folder. From there you can drag it to a device, open it in eReader software or add it to your library of available titles.
Browse to Google Books. The Google Books site displays two boxes: one supports searching for free books and the other searches Google Play where you can purchase books.
Use the text box on the left to search by title, author or keyword for a free book you want to read. A list of books will be displayed which includes both free books and non-free books.
From the left bar select the link that says "Free Google eBooks." The list displayed will now be limited to only free eBooks.
Click on the link to the book you want to read. A page will open up displaying the front cover of the book in an eReader embedded in your browser.
In the upper right hand corner of the page, find a button with an icon of a cog wheel on it. Click it. A menu will drop down. Select your preferred format from the menu items that begin with the word "Download."
If a verification page appears, enter into the text box the text displayed in a warped font. Click submit.Your book will download to your downloads folder. From there you can drag it to a device, open it in eReader software or add it to your library of available titles.
Many libraries also offer downloads of newer eBooks for a limited "checkout" period. Check your local library's website for details.
Online bookseller sites such as Kindle and Barnes and Noble may also offer public domain titles for free. In these cases, you can download the book just as you would any book, but skip the payment step.
Brian Jung has been writing professionally since 1991. Currently he works as a software developer for University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio, where he also contributes reviews and commentary on children's and young adult literature to his own blog, Critique de Mr Chompchomp, and to Guys Lit Wire. Brian holds a Doctor of Philosophy in English from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.