How To Find Free Books (And Save On Them Too)
During these unbelievable times I feel we need books more than ever. While many of us are in self-isolation, I thought it would be helpful to share how I source free books and keep my reading expenses down. This becomes even more important when many of us no longer have access to our libraries. I usually read over 100 books per year, which can really start to add up!
Below are some great resources for sourcing free books (and saving on books too) which I’ve really come to rely on. If you have any tips or suggestions to add, please let me know in the comments below, so this can be a useful resource for our reading community. I really hope you find something here to help you get reading more, as we face these difficult times together.
Please note: This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
1. Audible Trial (1 month free)
The one month Audible trial is my favorite on this list, as you get access to the Audible audiobook library for one month totally free. The offer changes from time to time, but you usually get at least 1 credit which gets you access to 1 free book. Included are titles such as Washington Black, our book for Barbados in the World Reading Challenge. I love the Audible app on my phone, it’s so easy to listen while doing other things. Best of all, you can cancel at any time and you get to keep your books forever. A little tip; when you cancel through this trial, you are also sometimes offered a discounted rate to continue your membership.
2. Scribd Trial (2 months free)
Scribd is an online subscription library that offers thousands of books, audiobooks and more. They currently offer 1 month subscriptions for free, but if you use my invite link here you’ll receive a 2 month membership for free (full disclosure: I get a little something for this referral too!) I’ve only just started using the service myself and have no complaints so far, though many users have had issues in the past with a) their book selections becoming limited towards the end of the month and b) cancelling their accounts. I’ll share an update with my own experience if I run into any troubles here.
3. Kindle Unlimited Trial (1 month free)
This is another incredible one month trial that I love. Kindle Unlimited is a subscription service to their digital library where you can borrow up to 10 titles at a time. It includes digital books, magazines and audiobooks. However, it doesn’t include everything available on Kindle – only certain titles are included. Titles in the Amazon library display a badge to show what’s included, such as The Memory of Love, our book for Sierra Leone in the World Reading Challenge. Though ironically limited, there are still plenty of amazing titles included!
4. Public Domain Books
When book copyrights expire, many books become part of the public domain and totally free to read. While you can access many of these titles on Project Gutenberg, I like to source my public domain books from Amazon as I prefer the reading experience on my Kindle app.
Depending on many factors, libraries can really vary so I plan to put together a more detailed post on the options here. Some libraries have amazing digital collections (that can still be accessed), while others are more focused on print collections (which are inaccessible right now). Some libraries are totally free, while others charge for membership (largely depending on your place of residence). I highly recommend checking out your local library to see what’s currently available to you.
Save On Books
6. AbeBooks (secondhand print books)
Owned by Amazon, AbeBooks is a huge marketplace of second hand print books. I’ve had a mixture of experiences with these guys depending on the bookseller. That said, they often have titles I’m looking for, some selling for just one dollar – much cheaper than the same titles on Kindle. While some of my deliveries have been perfect and others have never turned up, I’ve always been refunded eventually, so I recommend sticking to purchases you’re not too invested in here. Here’s an example of purchasing A Spare Life (our book for North Macedonia in the World Reading Challenge) on AbeBooks vs. Kindle.
7. Add Audible to Kindle (save with bundles)
Honestly, this is one of my favorite hacks and one I wish I’d learnt long ago. Many Kindle titles on Amazon will offer an up-sell to add the Audible (or narrated) version of the book to your purchase. It’s usually a checkbox under the buy button, such as this example for The Man Who Spoke Snakish, our book for Estonia in the World Reading Challenge. Sometimes this combined cost works out much cheaper than buying the Audible book on its own!
8. Great On Kindle (earn credits)
A selection of Kindle books are marked as Great On Kindle and offer you Amazon credits towards other Great On Kindle purchases. This technically makes the purchase price less, as long as you plan on buying more books in the future! Here’s an example for What You Have Heard Is True, our book for El Salvador in the World Reading Challenge.
9. Amazon Prime (free delivery and books)
One of the additional expenses when ordering print books is the delivery costs. With Amazon Prime you have access to free shipping, which can make things work out cheaper overall. Their one month free trial includes free shipping along with free access to their Prime Reading titles and lots of other benefits too.
I hope this guide has helped you source some new reads!
Have you used any of these services before? Have any tips you’d like to share? Have I missed one of your favorite sources of free books? I’d love to hear about your experiences, along with any tips for finding free books in the comments below.