wikiHow to Get Free Books

Two Methods:Getting Free Paper BooksFinding Free Ebooks

Voracious reader on a budget have many ways to satisfy their desire for books. Hundreds of online book communities trade and giveaway books, release them "into the wild," or organize local meetups. Learn about all these options, plus a few ways to find books through face-to-face interaction.

Method 1
Getting Free Paper Books

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    Trade books online. There are several well-known sites dedicated to trading books. Here are a few options:
    • Join a books-by-mail site such as BookMooch, WhatsOnMyBookshelf, or PaperBackSwap. You mail out books to other users, earning points to request books for yourself.
    • Sign up for BookCrossing to join a worldwide community of readers passing on books from hand to hand.
    • To avoid long-distance postage, search online for country-specific sites, such as BookSwapAustralia or the UK's Read It Swap It.
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    Join general giveaway websites. These aren't limited to books, but that doesn't mean you can't find readable treasures. A few options include:
    • Joining a local Freecycle to find free things in your neighborhood.
    • TitleTrader for books, films, and music.
    • The free section of sites such as craiglist, yerdle, or freelywheely. Be cautious and meet strangers in public during the day.[1]
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    Organize your own book swap. If you have extra books, invite friends and family over to trade for them. It's best to trade all books one-for-one, regardless of value. This keeps things friendly and focused on good books, not good deals.
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    Dumpster dive at charity shops. Charity shops and thrift shops often have giveaway bins of stuff they can't sell. If you're lucky, you might live near a "shop" that gives books away, such as Book-Cycle in the UK.[2]
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    Find public bookcases. The Little Free Library project has been spreading miniature book-filled houses across many lawns and sidewalks. Many of these are registered on the project's online map. Cafés, libraries, and college campus buildings have been using this "public bookcase" idea for much longer, but most of these can only be discovered by word of mouth.
    • If none of your bookworm friends have discovered these, try finding an online forum for your neighborhood and asking about them there.
    • Starting your own is a great way to collect books and meet other readers in your area. If you live in an apartment building, ask your landlord if you can put a bookcase in the lobby.
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    Keep an eye out for book giveaways. Authors sometimes give away their books as a promotion, or in trade for a public review. You can find these most easily on large book community sites such as Library Thing and Young Adult and Kids Books Central.
    • The #amazongiveaway Twitter hashtag usually has several book or ebook giveaways going on. View it "Live" instead of "Top" to see all recent results.
    • Small blogs host these contests as well, but it's not worth tracking them down unless you follow the blog already. Look through book blogger directories online if you're interested in hearing from authors, reviewers, and other people in the book world.
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    Get the most out of your library. If you think you've exhausted your local library's supply, talk to a librarian. Most libraries let you order books from other branches, or borrow online content using your library card.
    • You can request a specific book from the head librarian or a Friend of the Library organization. Depending on budget, the staff may be willing to purchase that book for the collection, and let you know when it arrives.[3]
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    Volunteer in exchange for books. If you know someone with a full attic or garage, offer to organize it in exchange for books you find in the process. Bookstores and libraries may also be willing to give you overstock for a few hours of shelving.

Method 2
Finding Free Ebooks

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    Find a free ereader for the computer. Many ebook sites offer computer-friendly file formats, but reading pdfs or text files can be a pain. If you don't have an ereader device but do have a computer, try these free options:
    • Download FBReader to read all common ebook formats, including epub and MOBI.[4] The Mac version is incomplete as of February 2016.
    • Download Adobe Digital Editions to read the epub format.
    • Read Kindle (MOBI format) ebooks using Kindle Cloud Reader, Kindle for PC, or Kindle for Mac.
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    Browse free ebook collections. There are dozens of online databases dedicated to free ebooks. These often focus on new, unknown authors, but there are exceptions., GetFreeeBooks, and are just a few places to start.
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    Search in copyright-free collections. The most famous of these is Project Gutenberg, with its massive collection of public works. The Internet Archive,, Europeana, and Digital Public Library of America are similar projects.
    • If your country has strict copyright laws, it is possible that a work may still be illegal to download in your country. For example, Project Gutenberg Australia includes some works which are still copyrighted in the U.S.[5]
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    Check the free sections of ebook stores. Almost all ebook stores have a free section, including the Amazon Kindle Store, Kobo, Nook Books, and Google Play Books. Less well-known options include Smashwords, a popular indie publishing site, and Feedbooks, an ebook store aimed at mobile devices.
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    Borrow ebooks from your library. More and more libraries are providing free, temporary ebook downloads, straight onto a personal device. Check with your library to find out if it uses the Overdrive app or another system.


  • If you don't mind paying US $2 or less for a book, you can find cheap deals at library book sales and warehouse clearance sales.

Article Info

Categories: Budgeting