From Project Gutenberg to LibriVox, here's how to find free ebooks and audiobooks online.
You like to read or listen to books on your ebook reader, tablet, or other device. And maybe you’ve already purchased ebooks from Amazon and other websites. But you can also download and access free books, and from a host of different sites. Such sites as Project Gutenberg, The Internet Archive, Open Library, and Feedbooks host free books. You can also snag freebies from Amazon’s Kindle library and the Nook library.
First, to read electronic books, you can certainly use a dedicated ebook reader, such as an Amazon Kindle, a Barnes & Noble Nook, or a Kobo. But you can also turn your tablet or PC into an ereader with the Kindle app, the Nook app, and the Google Play Books app, among other programs. For convenience, an Apple iPad or an Android tablet serve as handy devices for reading ebooks in bed, on the couch, or outdoors. Further, you can listen to audiobooks on your smartphone or tablet, computer, smart home speaker, or MP3 player.
You’ll find ebooks available in a few different formats, including Kindle, epub, and PDF. Audiobooks are generally accessible as MP3 files. The best way to download or access ebooks and audiobooks is from the device on which you want to read or play them. But you can also download them on a PC and then transfer or sync them to your ereader or mobile device.
Further, you can borrow ebooks and audiobooks from your local library and read them via apps like Libby, Overdrive, Hoopla, and even Kindle. But those you naturally have to return after a couple of weeks. Instead, here are 10 places where you can get free ebooks and audiobooks.
Project Gutenberg(Opens in a new window) offers a library of more than 60,000 free ebooks, many of them classic novels and fiction available in the public domain but also a variety of non-fiction titles. With most of the books, you choose among epub, Kindle, or plain text format to download them onto your device. In many cases, you’re also able to access an HTML version to read directly through your browser.
You can use several different methods to find a book at Project Gutenberg. First, you can always browse selections based on different groups, such as the most popular books, latest releases, recently added, and random titles. A Bookshelf page presents different categories for you to peruse, including classics, crime, geography, history, music, science, and technology. You can search for specific books by author, title, subject, language, and popularity.
The site also provides a host of audiobooks in MP3 format. Many of the titles are read in a computer-generated voice so they’re not as pleasant to listen to as are audiobooks read by a human being. However, the ones provided by LibriVox are read by an actual person. A companion site(Opens in a new window) delivers contemporary books and poetry, all of which are self-published by different authors. No account is required so you can easily download any books you want and keep them forever.
The Internet Archive(Opens in a new window) is home to millions of books, movies, TV shows, music, and other content. On its virtual bookshelves, you’ll find more than 20 million downloadable ebooks and texts(Opens in a new window) that you can keep as well as 2.3 million titles(Opens in a new window) that you can borrow by signing up for a free account with the site. A wide selection of audiobooks(Opens in a new window) also are available.
The books are organized by collections and other criteria. You can narrow the focus by specifying a year, language, and other criteria. And you can search for books based on title, author, publisher, topic, year, and other factors. Ebooks are accessible in a variety of formats, including epub, Kindle, PDF, and plain text, while audiobooks are available as MP3 files and M3U files.
A division of the Internet Archive, Open Library(Opens in a new window) is devoted specifically to ebooks and audiobooks. Hosting more than 3 million books, the site offers classic books that you can read online or download as epub or PDF files. Acting as a real library, Open Library also features more modern books that you can borrow for 14 days and read online.
You can browse for books by subject, genre, and other factors, and search by title, author, and more. An advanced search option helps you search by other criteria, such as ISBN number or publisher. A virtual library page displays images of bookshelves based on topic, allowing you to see different titles and pick the one you want to view. Depending on the book you select, you can then read it, borrow it, or download it. You can also listen to most books, though the titles are read in a computer-generated voice.
Though it mostly offers books for sale, Feedbooks(Opens in a new window) also features a huge collection of free titles in the public domain. At first glance, the books are organized by fiction, non-fiction, most popular, and recently added. Drill down further by clicking the Show all button next to a category, and you can browse for titles based on genre. For example, the fiction category features books in such areas as science fiction, mystery, romance, and juvenile. Under non-fiction, you’ll find biographies, history, religion, science, travel, and humor.
Beyond browsing all the titles, you can search for specific books based on title, author, publisher, date, and more. Select a book that intrigues you to see a full description and other details. Click the Download button to download the title as an epub file.
LibriVox(Opens in a new window) focuses specifically on audiobooks, offering a large catalog of public domain titles to play. The books are read by volunteers who donate their time, so listening to them is much more enjoyable than hearing a book read by a computer generated voice.
You can browse or search for books by title, author, genre, or language. An advanced search feature lets you hunt for books based on keywords as well as the person who does the reading. LibriVox covers a wide range of genres and categories, including fiction, non-fiction, short stories, plays, and poetry.
Find a book you want and click the Download button to grab a ZIP file of the content. Unzip the file into individual MP3 files, which you can then listen to on your computer or other device.
ManyBooks(Opens in a new window) is home to more than 50,000 ebooks—those in the public domain and ones that are self published. You can browse by a variety of genres and subjects, including biography, cooking, fiction, health, history, philosophy, politics, science fiction, and travel. You can also search by title, author, or keyword.
You’ll need to sign up for a free account to access the books at ManyBooks. After creating the account, you’re prompted to choose your favorite genres and file formats, which the site uses to help you find future titles. You’re also able to sign up for a daily newsletter offering free and discounted ebooks. Select a title that interests you to see a synopsis and brief excerpt. You can then read it online or download it as an epub file or other format.
By creating a free account at Free-Ebooks(Opens in a new window), you can download up to five free titles each month. If you want more, a $50 VIP plan grants you an unlimited number of free books for life. But the free account is a good way to get started. Just watch out for the special offers and promotions as you sign up for your account.
Browse for titles by category, including fiction, non-fiction, academic, textbooks, and audiobooks. Then drill down to specific genres, such as business, computers, health, history, psychology, web design, and writing. Choose a book that interests you to see a description and preview of the first few pages. You can then download it in PDF, epub, Kindle, or text format. Audiobooks are available as MP3 or Apple M4B files, however, downloading them requires a VIP plan.
Beyond the millions of books with a price tag, Amazon offers a huge collection of free Kindle ebooks and audiobooks. And you’ll find them a few different ways. Check out the freebies among classics and public domain titles(Opens in a new window) as well as the 100 f(Opens in a new window)r(Opens in a new window)ee best sellers(Opens in a new window).
Alternatively, browse straight to the Kindle bookstore(Opens in a new window) and search for free books. For audiobooks, Amazon offers free titles through Audible(Opens in a new window), even ones that don’t require an Audible subscription.
You can score many more free books through a Kindle Unlimited subscription(Opens in a new window). For $9.99 per month, you have access to more than 2 million free ebooks. You can check out as many as 10 as a time. When you’re done with one title, simply return it and get another one.
As you browse or search for specific titles, narrow the results by selecting different criteria such as genre, customer reviews, and author. Select a title you like to view a description and other details. Click the button for Buy now with 1-Click, and the title is delivered directly to your ebook reader or mobile device to read with the Kindle app.
Barnes & Noble offers free ebooks through its Nook store(Opens in a new window). Some audiobooks are free but require a B&N Audiobooks subscription, which costs $15 per month after a free 30-day trial. If you don’t have a Nook ereader, just download the Nook mobile app(Opens in a new window) for iOS/iPadOS or Android to access the ebooks and audiobooks on your mobile device. You’ll also need a free Barnes & Noble online account and payment method even for free books.
Simple type the word free in the Search field to peek at all the free titles. You can then check out the freebies by category or subject. Select the title of an interesting book to see an overview, details, and customer review. Click the button for Instant Purchase (you may first need to enable the Instant Purchase option under Settings). Open the Nook app on your device, and the book will be there for you to read.
The Google Play bookstore sells paid books but offers a number of ebooks and audiobooks for free. Browse to the Google Play Books site(Opens in a new window). Click the Search icon and type free or enter a specific book title, author, or other criteria, click the heading for Price, and then change it to Free. Google shows you free ebooks at the top and audiobooks underneath. Click the right arrow for either type of book to view additional choices.
Select a specific book to see customer reviews and other information. Click the Get for free button to download an ebook or audiobook. You can read or play the book directly at the website or snag the free Google Books app for iOS/iPadOS(Opens in a new window) or Android(Opens in a new window) to access the title on your mobile device.
Sign up for Tips & Tricks newsletter for expert advice to get the most out of your technology.
Your subscription has been confirmed. Keep an eye on your inbox!
I’ve been working for PCMag since early 2016 writing tutorials, how-to pieces, and other articles on consumer technology. Beyond PCMag, I’ve written news stories and tutorials for a variety of other websites and publications, including CNET, ZDNet, TechRepublic, Macworld, Popular Science, Time, Fortune, US News & World Report, and AARP Magazine. I spent seven years writing breaking news for CNET as one of the site’s East Coast reporters. I’ve also written two books for Wiley & Sons—Windows 8: Five Minutes at a Time and Teach Yourself Visually LinkedIn.
Read Lance’s full bio
PCMag.com is a leading authority on technology, delivering lab-based, independent reviews of the latest products and services. Our expert industry analysis and practical solutions help you make better buying decisions and get more from technology.
© 1996-2022 Ziff Davis. PCMag Digital Group
PCMag, PCMag.com and PC Magazine are among the federally registered trademarks of Ziff Davis and may not be used by third parties without explicit permission. The display of third-party trademarks and trade names on this site does not necessarily indicate any affiliation or the endorsement of PCMag. If you click an affiliate link and buy a product or service, we may be paid a fee by that merchant.