Where to find free books for your Ama­zon Kin­dle

Thou­sands of free Kin­dle books are out there. You just have to know where to look.

PCWorld (USA) - - Here’s How - BY SÉA­MUS BEL­LAMY

When you own an Ama­zon Kin­dle, the cost of sup­port­ing a vo­ra­cious read­ing habit can get very steep, very quickly. A quick glance at Ama­zon’s list of the Best Books of the Month shows that a de­cent read can set you back be­tween $13 and $15 for a Kin­dle edi­tion book. Sure, Ama­zon of­fers deals on great e-books, but wait­ing for a deal could take for­ever. Many ti­tles can be had for two bucks or less, but it takes work to find the gems among the dross.

What you need are some solid op­tions for find­ing free, ab­sorb­ing con­tent to de­vour on your Kin­dle. We’re more than happy to point you in the right di­rec­tion. (And if you need a new e-reader, find one among our re­views of

the best Kin­dles [ go. pc­world.com/btkn].)


At last count, Project Gutenberg ( go.pc­world. com/gtbg) of­fered 57,245 free ebooks that can be down­loaded in a num­ber of for­mats, in­clud­ing ones that are read­able on a Kin­dle e-reader. You won’t find any new re­leases here, with good rea­son: All of the ti­tles avail­able though Project Gutenberg are ei­ther in the pub­lic do­main, be­cause the copy­right on the work has ex­pired or be­cause the holder of the book’s copy­right has given the project’s or­ga­niz­ers per­mis­sion to pro­vide ac­cess to it at no cost.

That said, you’ll find plenty of amaz­ing books to read. Some of the great­est tomes in the English lan­guage are in the pub­lic do­main: Moby Dick, Anne of Green Gables, A Study in Scar­lett and Be­owulf are all there and ready for the tak­ing. (Project Gutenberg pro­vides some con­tent in 49 other lan­guages as well.)

To get Project Gutenberg books onto your Kin­dle, down­load the book you want to read. Then, at­tached your e-reader to your PC with a USB ca­ble and open it in File Ex­plorer, just as you would any other con­nected drive. In your Kin­dle’s file di­rec­tory, you’ll see two file fold­ers: Doc­u­ments and Fonts (if you own a Kin­dle Oa­sis, there will also be a third folder, called Audi­ble.) Drag and drop the .mobi file you down­loaded from the Project Gutenberg web­site into your Kin­dle’s Doc­u­ment file and dis­con­nect the de­vice once the file trans­fer is com­plete. Boom: You’re ready to start read­ing.

One word of cau­tion: If you live out­side of the United States, down­load­ing the books from Project Gutenberg might not be le­gal. Be sure to check your lo­cal laws be­fore pulling the trig­ger on any books you find here.


If you’ve got a li­brary card, you’ve got ac­cess to free e-books. Over­drive ( go.pc­world. com/ovdr) is an on­line ser­vice that al­lows li­brary card hold­ers to down­load free e-books (and movies and au­dio con­tent, too) from

their pub­lic li­brary, school, or in­sti­tu­tion’s col­lec­tion to their Kin­dles. The more li­brary cards you have in your name, the more books you have ac­cess to.

Us­ing Over­drive is dead sim­ple. Af­ter en­ter­ing your li­brary card num­ber and the PIN as­signed to you when you were is­sued your card (if you can’t remember it, ask your li­brar­ian,) you’ll have ac­cess to all of the dig­i­tal con­tent that your li­brary has in its col­lec­tion. The more li­braries you be­long to, the bet­ter chance there is of find­ing some­thing you’ll want to read.

Just like a brick-and-mor­tar li­brary with ac­tual books on its shelves, only one per­son can take out a book on Over­drive at a time. If a book is avail­able, click Bor­row and fol­low the prompts. The ser­vice also pro­vides a well-writ­ten help sec­tion to walk you through the process. De­pend­ing on your li­brary’s rules, you may be able to choose from a num­ber of loan pe­ri­ods. If a book’s un­avail­able, many li­braries will al­low you to join a wait­ing list. When your turn comes around, Over­drive will let you know.

That’s the good stuff. Now for the bad: Not all li­braries of­fer Kin­dle-ready edi­tions of the e-books that they have in their col­lec­tion. Many li­braries serve up dig­i­tal con­tent as an Adobe Dig­i­tal Edi­tions file—a for­mat that’s not com­pat­i­ble with Ama­zon’s E-ink de­vices.


While Ama­zon keeps it quiet, some e-books pur­chased via the Kin­dle Store can be loaned out to your friends. Just hope that they’ll re­turn the fa­vor from time to time!

To loan out a Kin­dle e-book, sign into Ama­zon.com and open the Ac­count & Lists

drop-down menu, lo­cated in the top right cor­ner of the Ama­zon home­page. Choose Your Con­tent & De­vices. You should see a list of all of the Kin­dle e-books you’ve ever bought. Next to the ti­tle of each book, you’ll note a gray square with three dots on it. Click it, and a list of all of the op­tions for this ti­tle will ap­pear. If Loan This Ti­tle is on the list, you’re in busi­ness. Click­ing it will take you to a page that lets you send the book to the friend-of-your-choos­ing’s email ad­dress. Your Kin­dle e-books can be lent out for a 14-day pe­riod, dur­ing which time you won’t have ac­cess to the ti­tle for your­self—just as if you’d lent a book to a pal from the shelf in your liv­ing room.


If you’re not the only Kin­dle owner in your fam­ily, you’re in luck: Ama­zon will al­low a max­i­mum of two adults per fam­ily to share Kin­dle ebooks with one another. So, if your part­ner buys an ebook from the Kin­dle Store, you’ll be able to read it too, at no charge. To get started, log in to Ama­zon’s web­site and go to your Ac­count Set­tings > Your Con­tent & De­vices. Click House­holds And Fam­ily Li­brary. From here, you’ll be able to set up your Fam­ily li­brary shar­ing set­tings.

With over 57,000 free books to read on your Kin­dle, Project Gutenberg should keep you busy for a while.

With Over­drive, your lo­cal li­brary be­comes your Kin­dle’s best friend.

With over 57,000 free books to read on your Kin­dle, Project Gutenberg should keep you busy for a while.

Ama­zon doesn’t ad­ver­tise the fact that you can loan books to friends, but the op­tion is there and it’s fab­u­lous.

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