10:00 am EDT, October 24, 2018

How to read books for free (but still support authors)

Low on cash but craving the excitement of a new book? Here’s how to read books for free without taking money away from hard-working authors!

Remember when music piracy was a thing? Thanks to the advent of streaming services, that’s not as much of an issue anymore. Some might argue that, because streaming services aren’t paying artists much, it’s still like they’re being stolen from, but at least they’re getting something.

But authors?

This problem is still very real for them. The book-equivalent streaming services (basically Kindle Unlimited) have done nothing to curb book piracy because they’re not as widespread or used. Authors are busting their butts to write and publish their novels and seeing their books get stolen right out from underneath them.

Books aren’t cheap. But when you think about how much work and thought goes into each book — as well as how long it takes the average person to read a book — they’re more than fairly-priced.

But we get it. We’ve been there. It’s difficult to afford all of the books we want to read.

That being said, we want to let you in on a little secret: It’s possible to read books for free and still support your favorite authors. In fact, authors know how expensive reading can be (they’re book-lovers first, after all) and so they encourage you to read for free by these methods.

So what are these author-approved methods? Read on to find out how to read books for free!

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Note: We’re talking about absolutely free books here. However, authors depend on reviews to get their books in front of potential new readers/paying customers.

So if you get your hands on free books, *please* take a moment to review them on Goodreads, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble. Or do what we do and copy/paste your review to all three. Getting into this habit would mean the world to authors everywhere.

Enter Goodreads giveaways

There are so many authors doing book giveaways on Goodreads that your chances of winning a copy are pretty good. (This writer has won copies of two books in the last year and a half or so without needing to enter a ton every day.)

If you add a book as “Want to Read,” you’ll be notified if a giveaway happens for it so you won’t miss a single opportunity for a free book. Or you can just browse the giveaway page and enter to your heart’s content. AND all you have to do in return for winning a free copy is leave a review. It’s that easy.

Subscribe to authors’ email lists and join their Facebook groups

Did you know that there are tons of authors that give away free books to their email subscribers and Facebook group members regularly? Joining authors’ communities is one of the easiest ways to fill up your eReader with a ton of great new books.

Just find one author with a newsletter and go from there. Most books that are given away are done so with the expectation that you’ll join another author’s list — but then that ALSO means you’ll get more free books from that author. It’s a never-ending cycle that means only good things for you!

Oh, and romance fans: Take it a step further and check out this relatively new group for romance readers and writers on Goodreads. There are even more free books to be had there!

Jacquelyn Middleton's reader group

Sign up for BookSweeps

Want more book giveaways in your life? BookSweeps brings alllll the books to you. Just tell them what genres you like and they’ll send you emails full of great book giveaways they think you’ll enjoy. This site is great for discovering new authors in your favorite genres and, if you win some of their big giveaways, you’ll get upwards of 20 books at a time!

It’s just so convenient.

Subscribe to well-known book email lists

In case you haven’t noticed, email and newsletters are a great way to hear about new book as well as free books. Or even free new books!

There are quite a few well-known book newsletters that will have some pretty great freebie and giveaway opportunities from time to time. Some of our favorites include Shelf Awareness, Read It Forward, and BookRiot (just to name a few).

Check out Project Gutenberg, Internet Archive, and Open Library

Did you know that a ton of classic novels are in the public domain? That means that they’re no longer under copyright and therefore free to read and reproduce. That means that you can find free copies of Jane Eyre, Frankenstein, and The Picture of Dorian Gray, among many others, pretty easily.

Websites like Project Gutenberg, Internet Archive, and Open Library have tons and tons of books to choose from that you can easily transfer to your computer or eReader.

Public Domain Classics

Check out FreebieShark’s weekly free eBook round-up

Every week (usually toward the middle or end of the week), freebie website FreebieShark publishes a round-up of the best free eBooks on Amazon at the time. These books range anywhere from romance to vampire novels, cookbooks to inspirational memoirs. And, if you have a Nook and not a Kindle, you can usually count on books that are free on Amazon being free for the Nook as well.

Obviously, Amazon’s list of free eBooks goes beyond what’s listed every week on FreebieShark, but it’s a great gateway list. Plus, once you’re in the free books section on Amazon, you can browse around as you please through all of the “related books” content.

Which leads us to our next point…

Search for free books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and BookBub

Seriously. There are SO many free eBooks on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and BookBub. Like pages on pages on pages. While some of the books in the free sections may not be for everyone, there are definitely some gems to be found. Who knows, you may find your next favorite read there!

Find a little free library in your neighborhood

Little free libraries are the cutest things. Basically, they’re just little cabinets of books that are free for anyone to read or add to. Sometimes they’re simple bookcases, but other times they look like cute little dollhouses or a TARDIS. But, no matter what they look like, they all have the same thing in common: Free books!

You don’t have to have a library card to check out a book from one of these. Just open the case, grab a book, and then return it later or swap it out for a book you don’t want to hold onto anymore. It’s as simple as that.

Little Free Library books

Host or go to a book swap party

What better way is there to offload books you don’t want to keep and go home with a stack of novels you’ve never read before? We’ve all been there — Sometimes books just aren’t worth keeping. While you could donate them, you can also use them as an excuse to get together with fellow book fans and introduce each other to new titles.

So, plan a party with your friends. Everyone brings a couple of books with them and swaps their titles for ones they’ve never read before. Throw in some tasty snacks and apps and it’ll be a party everyone will be buzzing about for weeks afterward.

Visit your local library!

There’s no such thing as being too cool to go to the library. They have all of the books you could really ever want and you can read them all FOR FREE. You don’t even have to step foot in the stacks if you don’t want to. Libraries now let you reserve your copies online and pick them up in a designated area super quick.

There are also services like Overdrive that partner with local libraries to offer free access to digital copies of books. If you haven’t gotten (or renewed) your library card, it’s hands down your best option here.

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