5 Ways To Get Free Books — Without Downloading Them Illegally

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By Kerri Jarema

I'm not going to mince words here: books can be expensive. And when you are a particularly voracious reader, those $30 hardbacks and $16 paperbacks add up fast. Even ebooks can cost you upwards of $10, and in order to get access to many audiobooks you have to sign up for a monthly subscription. So, how can you get your hands on books for cheap? There are actually tons of websites and ebook lending libraries out there that offer millions of free books and audiobooks or books that cost a fraction of the original price. All it takes is some ingenuity, and a genuine desire to open yourself up to books you many not have considered reading before.

Below are five super easy ways that you can download countless ebooks and audiobooks right now, for free or for very little money. And for some, you don't even need to own an e-reader or a tablet to start reading. If you've got access to a computer or a smartphone, you too can be reading free and cheap books to your heart's content. The best part? You'll still be supporting authors, publishers and the book industry as a whole to be able to continue to make their art. It's the textbook definition of a win-win.

Through Your Local Library's Online Catalogue And The Libby App

I could write forever about all the many ways that libraries are crucial to our survival, and one of the biggest ways is (obviously) through providing free books. Of course you can go the old school route and physically head over to your library and scan the shelves, or you can head online, where you have access to literally millions of books.

Most libraries have their own online catalogue, but you can also sign up for free Overdrive and Libby app accounts, where you can connect to your library's catalogue of ebooks and audiobooks and download them straight to your devices. Sure, you might have to wait a while to get your hands on new releases, but the whole point of the library is to share the wealth with your fellow readers.

And if they don't have the book you want in the catalogue? Request it! You can do so easily by clicking the provided request links in the app, or call, email or stop by your local branch.

By Signing Up For NetGalley, Edelweiss & Other Sites That Offer Advance Reader Copies

Netgalley and Edelweiss are two of the easiest ways to access books before they make their way onto bookstore shelves. These sites cater to the bookish community of journalists, bloggers, and voracious readers by providing them with free advance copies of books in exchange for an honest review. This helps publishers gauge how to market a book, whether it needs any final edits before going to print, and what the overall impression of a book is before it hits shelves; and it helps readers by, well, giving them free books.

In order to gain access to these reads, though, you will have to prove your mettle on the site by staying up to date with your reviews, and making sure that those reviews are actually in-depth and helpful to the publisher. But it's a small price to pay to help shape the industry...and to have access to lots of amazing reads, free of charge.

By Checking Out One Of Many Free Ebook And Audiobook Websites

From ebooks on Open Library to audiobooks on LibriVox, there are plenty of websites that offer totally free access to millions of books in a variety of genres and age-ranges. A quick Google search will provide you with tons of sites that have catalogues that romance, classics, fantasy, biographies, and even cookbooks — and they're all free of charge. Sure, most of these books will not be the latest bestseller or the hottest YA making the rounds, but if access to stories is what you're really after, you're bound to find something on these sites that you'll love.

By Trolling For Book Deals On The Nook, Kindle & Google Ebook Stores

If you have any kind of e-reader or smartphone, you have access to a store filled with books. But while you might not have the means to grab a newly released ebook, you definitely have all that you need to search through the thousands of free and deeply discounted books on the Nook, Kindle, or Google ebook stores. There are always $1.99 and $2.99 deals, sometimes even on new and recent releases. Scroll through the store every day to see what deals pop up, or follow your favorite authors on social media, where most of them will share when one or more of their books is having an ebook sale. If you sign up for a newsletter like BookBub, you can get ebooks deals delivered straight to your inbox.

Try Starting A Book Sharing Club With Friends, Family & Co-Workers

Yes, this one might work best with physical books. Make a lending library from your own shelves, and swap books with your friends, family, co-workers, fellow students, whoever in your life needs access to stories that they can't get through any other means. But many ebooks can also be shared digitally. Some come with ready-to-clink links that automatically share the ebooks file with another person's Nook or Kindle library. Beyond that, you can always swap readers, share library copies, and help other people get their Netgalley accounts on point. Where there is a will to read, there is always a way.