Six Sites With Truly Free eBooks
Free ebook sites are so common now that they are not just a dime a dozen, they’re a dime a gross. All of the major ebook stores have free ebooks, and you can find even more free (and legal) sites with a simple Google search.
But sometimes I need a site that has ebooks worth reading, doesn’t have DRM, and doesn’t require an account. And that’s why I put together this list of I go to when I need reading material and am in a hurry.
Feedbooks is by no means the biggest free ebook site and it’s not the easiest to navigate, but it comes first in my list because the ebooks are well-formatted and are available in Epub, Kindle, and PDF. It’s nice to have that last option because there have been times where I was using a device which did not have a reading app other than Adobe Reader. (Yes, it does happen.)
Also, Feedbooks has a mobile site, and that makes it a lot easier to download ebooks to the tablet I want to read them on.
This free ebook site is dedicated to producing the highest quality ebooks, and then giving them away. It was added to this list in mid-2017.
Baen Free Library
The Baen Free Library isn’t nearly as big as it was back before Baen Books started distributing ebooks to the Kindle Store and elsewhere, but it’s still a good source of mil-SF.
And if you have time, you might want to also check out Fifth Imperium. This site hosts copies of the CDs which Baen sometimes bundles into first edition hardbacks. They only have the CD images to download, so that site doesn’t fit the requirements of this post.
Smashwords is widely known as an ebook distributor, but they also have an ebook store with a lot of free original content.
Thanks to a recent update, this site is mobile-friendly. It also offers a wide variety of formats and does not require that you register before you download.
This is one of the original free ebook sites, and it’s been around since long before the Amazon launched the Kindle in 2007. It pretty much only has public domain titles, and the last time I checked they were reasonably well formatted.
Project Gutenberg – Australia
I’m sure everyone who has read an ebook knows about Project Gutenberg, but fewer people know about the a similar site based in Australia (there’s one in Canada, too).
PG Australia made this list because it complements ManyBooks.net. The sites work under 2 different sets of copyright laws, and that means there are titles that one site can legally upload that cannot be found on the other site.
The Rodent March 16, 2014 um 1:01 pm
Feedbooks is my favorite, if they happen to have a particular public domain title, because the formatting of their free books is generally so good. They serve about the only PD books I find anywhere that don’t need surgery before being readable.
Nate Hoffelder March 16, 2014 um 3:36 pm
That’s why feedbooks is at the top of my list, yes.
neuseriversailor March 16, 2014 um 1:32 pm
University of Adelaide in Australia has a great selection of well-formatted public domain ebooks:
Simon Konecnik December 17, 2018 um 4:14 pm
Do you have something in other languages maybe?
EvanR December 31, 2019 um 10:24 pm
Unfortunately it seems that ebooks at Adelaide is no longer available–at least as of a month or so ago. Those who go to http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/ are redirected to a "page not found" webpage by the University of Adelaide. It’s a shame since ebooks at Adelaide was such a great resource.
Bart Anderson March 16, 2014 um 2:17 pm
Thanks for the suggestions. New sources of free-books are always appreciated!
One trick I use when researching a particular topic is to google for the subject + epub (or pdf). For example, to look for e-books on or in Esperanto, I would search for
That often turns up e-books on the sites of individuals or groups, which are not available through the usual e-book websites.
Jim Scarborough March 17, 2014 um 10:07 am
This is a great list, Nate, and includes many of my favorites. As an avid science fiction and fantasy fan, I’d like to make a couple of comments. As you’ve noted, the Baen Free Library still contains some great books but has been dramatically reduced in size. All of the Baen Free CD’s are still available online, including the Cryoburn CD which has been removed from some of the hosting sites at the request of author Lois Mc Master Bujold who apparently misunderstood the terms of the license and became upset that so much of her work was being distributed for free. As a courtesy, many of the hosting sites removed it but were not legally required to do so and several still have it. The one major change in all of the hosting sites, as far as I know, is that you can no longer download individual books. You must download the entire zipped cd image and extract the individual books. Here’s what Fifth Imperium says about this change "Effective January 5, 2013, this CD index has had its book links removed in compliance with a request by Baen. The individual books are no longer available for direct download. If you want one or more of the books on this CD, please go to the site home page and download the CD ISO or zipped CD contents. The individual files are no longer hosted on this server, so please do hunt for them."
The Cryoburn CD containing most of Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan stories is no longer available at Fifth Imperium, however it is still available from other sources (such as http://hell.pl/szymon/Baen/ )and is still legal to download.
Another of my favorite sources for free, legal SF&F is: http://www.freesfonline.de/RecommendedStories.html
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Merrylon December 6, 2014 um 12:43 pm
A site that branched off from Project Gutenberg Canada a couple of years ago is faded page:
Most books on the site are public domain under Canadian copyright law (death +50). Faded page has around 2,000 books at present and is adding more every day. Collections are devoted to such authors as Josephine Tey (Gordon Daviot), "Sapper", E. Phillips Oppenheim, Dorothy L. Sayers, Gilbert Murray, C. S. Lewis, Patricia Wentworth, Nevil Shute , Ford Madox Ford, with Faulkner, Huxley and Hemingway in the pipeline. Books are available in epub, kindle, plain text, pdf and html versions.
The site is still very much in its infancy and perhaps a little understated, but well worth a visit.
Kanav March 27, 2021 um 9:43 am
Yes, it’s a great site, It contains over 6000 books now. The other day I was searching for some books for my sister and and pleased to say that it contained quite a load of them. It’s certainly as Merrylon said, 'Well worth a visit'.
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?an ?esli Starling March 5, 2016 um 1:14 pm
Similarly, if searching for Esperanto books also for Kindle Fire, then use the Kindle Fire format along with EPub. Like so…
esperanto epub azw3 mobi
A few ebook readers, however, might not have full UTF-8 fonts for foreign languages like Esperanto. Fonts can be then embedded into the ebooks themselves. All of my own translations from English some so equipped. Many, however, do not.
Miriam December 28, 2016 um 6:23 am
Thank you, neuseriversailor. The University of Adelaide is the best-kept secret in the world of free ebooks. If I have a choice between a book from Project Gutenberg and the same book from Adelaide, I will always pick Adelaide, the formatting is so much better.
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[…] of the reasons Feedbooks tops my list of free ebook sites is that the ebooks there are formatted to a higher standard than you can expect from even major […]
Harvey June 21, 2017 um 8:13 am
Hey, if anyone finds a plumber or mechanic or sculptor working free, please let me know.
Nate Hoffelder June 21, 2017 um 8:26 am
If you see free ebook downloads as "working for free", then I know a bunch of plumbers working for free. After all, I didn’t pay anyone to use my faucet or toilet this morning.
Simon Konecnik December 17, 2018 um 4:12 pm
Thank you very much for such a nice list. I really like it.
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