Thursday, June 24, 2010

Free eBooks, eAudiobooks

While the library offers the NetLibrary service to patrons for free (just need your library card number to set up an account), reference staff often gets questions about where people can download free eBooks to view on their new iPad, Kindle, etc. (NetLibrary allows you to download eAudiobooks, but eBooks must be viewed online from your PC). To that end, we recently reviewed and posted a list of free eBook/eAudiobook websites on our Recommended Websites page. Details below...

Free eBooks
  • Project Gutenberg - The first provider of free electronic books, Project Gutenberg allows users to download over 32,000 ebooks to read on a variety of devices, including the iPad, Kindle, Sony eReader, iPhone and Android phones and more.
  • Google Books - According to Google, if the book in Google Books is out of copyright, or the publisher has given them permission, you'll be able to see a preview of the book, and in some cases the entire text. If it's in the public domain, you're free to download a PDF copy. If you set up/sign in with a Google account, you can create/manage your own personal bookshelf.
  • ManyBooks - This site has close to 30,000 eBooks available for free. They also appear to support a number of devices/eReaders.
  • MemoWare - Appears to encompass more esoteric (i.e., no bestsellers here) literature and reference titles, and you can browse by genre/category, format and rating. There is also a premium section/bookstore with titles for sale.
  • Online Books Page - If you don't want to use some of the specific ebook websites listed above, you can focus on this index of ebooks (across multiple sites) hosted by the University of Pennsylvania. You can't search by format, however.
  • Kobo - Free eBooks (open standard, EPUB format) for your PC, mobile, smart phone or eReader (they sell one - you can buy it at Borders Books & Music). A quick perusal of the titles shows a lot of Harlequin romance/romance is available, along with the classics.
Free eAudiobooks
  • - I've seen this site recommended elsewhere, but it's a bit too commercial (lots of plugs to purchase other services) and there is no help section, so for now I am going to refrain from adding it to our page of recommended websites. I do like the little icons they display next to the title that clues you in on the contents (murder, etc.), whether it's abridged, male vs. female narrator, etc. There is a "play sample" feature, but I could not get it to work.
  • Project Gutenberg: The Audio Books Project - This growing collection includes human-read and computer-generated audio books.
Since we have a number of Kindle users, they may want to check out's Limited-time Promotional Offers or Kindle Popular Classics pages for free eBooks. Barnes & Noble, which sells the Nook eReader, also has free eBooks you can use with their free eReader software.

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