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Where to Get Books for Free​

Build out your library with​ a computer or tablet

cartoon of woman sitting on park bench with tablet downloading books from the air
BEN MOUNSEY-WOOD

Electronic book demand has surged during the pandemic, and no wonder. You can skip a trip to a library or bookstore; just download an e-book to your tablet, smartphone or computer. Can’t read tiny print? Simply tap or click to make it larger.

Many public libraries lend e-books; if you’re not already borrowing them, ask a librarian to help get you started. And here are some other good sources for free digital books.

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Classics

Project Gutenberg

This nonprofit library digitizes books out of copyright and now in the public domain. On the website, scroll down to Find Free eBooks. For suggestions, click Frequently Downloaded, then Top 100 eBooks Yesterday. Pick one, then click Download This eBook. To read on a computer, tablet or phone, click Read This Book Online: HTML, and the pages will pop up on your screen. For Kindle download instructions, do an online search.

History

Library of Congress

Without traveling to Washington, D.C., you can read many rare and important works, such as a Chinese history collection or a Babe Ruth biography written by one of his Yankees teammates. You can also browse old playbills, judicial opinions, newspapers and more.

Romance Novels

Harlequin Online Reads

Every week, this publisher of ­bodice rippers posts chapters of new books written by its authors. Not sure where to start? The site makes it easy with a list of moods: Do you want to fall in love? Take a walk on the dark side? To get started, create a free account, then click on the book you want to read. It will open on your computer, or you can download the free Book Breaks app to read it on your tablet or phone.

New Titles

Amazon Prime Reads

If you are an Amazon Prime member who loves trying new authors but doesn’t have the patience to browse, sign up for Amazon Prime Reads and you’ll get a steady supply of books. Each month, you’ll receive an email with a selection of free options. You can download one or two of them straight to your Kindle or Kindle app. It’s a nice perk of your Prime membership, currently $139 per year.

Reader Recommendations

Goodreads Free Shelves

On this site where bookworms rate and review books, you can check out lots of free samples by clicking on the title of a book and then clicking Preview. To search for free e-books and more excerpts, go to goodreads.com/ebooks?sort=readable. One wrinkle: Some titles may have been free when a fan listed them but are no longer available.