Woman reading tablet

By Helen Gregg Ι Feb. 15, 2016

When the weather is this cold and gloomy; cuddling down with a book and a cup of tea/coffee/cocoa always plays havoc with my productivity desires. But what if you could do just that without leaving home? Using digital resources, you can.

I am going to assume that if you are used to reading Salina Public Library’s blog, you probably already know that you can borrow ebooks and audiobooks for free from the library using Sunflower eLibrary or OneClick Digital. More titles are being added to these resources all the time!

But did you know there are several other websites out there that offer free ebooks and/or audiobooks? There are many sites on the web from which you can connect with free books that are no longer covered by copyright law. But we do need to remember that a free book is not going to be the latest release by Clive Cussler or James Patterson. Current authors’ work is still copyrighted material, so having a copy of those books for free forever means someone else had to have bought it or stolen it! But my favorite two sites have some very enjoyable reads, some for free and some for a very small price.

My very favorite free book site is BookBub.com  On this site, you can either choose to download only the free books (my usual habit) or you can choose to purchase a current special deal — $1.99 is the general price of deals. My husband and I have both chosen to do this from time to time because we are offered a book that is in a series we are reading for $1.99, which was a sizeable discount.

Signing up for BookBub only requires an email address. The fantastic part of this is the chance to customize the list of genres you want to be offered to you, then choose from a variety of retailers, how often you want to receive the email with the book deals, and click on Go to Deals. I just got an ebook while writing this as I was double checking details. My retailer is Amazon, since I have a Kindle. Also offered are Barnes & Noble Nook, Apple iBooks, Google Play, and Kobo.

My husband and I have amassed nearly 300 books in our shared Amazon Content Library (I have access to books he gets and he has access to mine, but not at the same time). The shared content library is available to families who have more than one Amazon account, but want to maintain one library.

Another great place for free books is Free Books from Project Gutenberg. Project Gutenberg is a volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works, to “encourage the creation and distribution of ebooks.”  It was founded in 1971 by Michael S. Hart and is the oldest digital library. (Wikipedia) It offers over 50,000 free ebooks: choose among free epub books, free kindle books, download them or read them online. There is no fee or registration required.

My experience with Project Gutenberg is that the most popular books are the classics. Perhaps the great advantage here is that there is no “lending period” when you download a book from Project Gutenberg, so if you choose “War and Peace,” you have all the time you need to read it.

These are only two of the many opportunities available for free digital reading. It is also possible to read ebooks online using your computer. How do I find these little gems? I use Google (or any search engine) and input the keywords “free books” or “free eBooks” or “free books online” — any of those will give me a results page full of places to go for free hours of getting lost in reading.

What are your favorite sources for ebooks and audiobooks?