How to get (great) free books on Kindle

If you’re a bookworm, you’re likely aware that getting free books is a double-edged sword. Free books sound like a great thing, right? The problem is that books you get for free sometimes aren’t the best, hence the double-edged sword thing. But getting good books — no, great books for free is actually possible on a Kindle, and there are several ways to do it.

How to get free books on Kindle

Look through free books

Free books for Kindle

Image: Maria Diaz / ZDNet

There are several ways to find free books for your Kindle, and the best place to start is to look through the free e-books available on Amazon.

A simple search of “free books” on Amazon will result in all the available free books for your Kindle e-reader. They’re the ones that show up as 100% off, with a price of $0.00. It may take a bit of scrolling to find a title you’re interested in, but it’s free and can be well worth it.

Also: How to buy books on Kindle

library card

A young woman talking to a librarian while checking out some books from a public library.

Image: Tom Werner via Getty Images

If you don’t have a library card already, I recommend you get one — everyone should. Check with your local library on the requirements to get a library card as well as what their virtual library offerings entail. A library card can give you access to potentially millions of e-books to download on your Kindle or another e-reader or tablet.

Once you have a library card, you can log into your library’s website with your credentials, then search through the site to see what platform it uses for its virtual catalog. OverDrive is a platform used by many public libraries in the US that features millions of e-books and audiobooks and is available through participating library websites.

If your library uses OverDrive, then the app to download on your mobile device is Libby. With this service, you can browse through the virtual library and borrow books to checkout for free.

Hoopla is another service affiliated with many local libraries across the US, but their content catalog features much more than ebooks: you can find movies, TV shows, magazines and music.

Prime membership

Prime Reading

Your Prime membership has some pretty far-reaching perks that not everyone takes advantage of. Once you get Amazon Prime, which comes with a 30-day free trial, you’ll also have access to an unlimited catalog of ebooks that is in constant rotation, also known as Prime reading.

The best part about using your Prime membership for the benefit of your Kindle is that you have your choice of one free pre-release e-book every month from editors’ picks. I’ve been known to eagerly wait two weeks for next month’s picks to choose from, so it’s a pretty attractive perk for me.

Classic books

Close-Up Of Books On Shelf Photo taken in Bangalore, India

Image: Baisil Kunjumon / EyeEm via Getty Images
  • Project Gutenberg: Founded in 1971, Project Gutenberg is the oldest digital library and features classic books that are not protected by US intellectual property law. It was created as a volunteer effort to digitize cultural works and encourage the distribution of ebooks, and now holds over 60,000 public domain titles. ManyBooks is another similar site that offers public domain works.
  • Internet Archive: This is a nonprofit library that features free books but goes as far as offering free movies, software, music, and images. This library features collections that link to different websites offering this content, so it’s the perfect starting point for someone looking to browse free ebooks. All you have to do to access their content is create a free account and you’ll be able to borrow up to ten books at once.

sharing books

Close-up of student scrolling on tablet

Image: Klaus Vedfelt via Getty Images

There is also the option of borrowing a book from someone else and sharing books among family members. Lending a title is available when you purchase a book, though not all publishers support this feature. So if someone wants to lend you a book from their Kindle, they can do so from their Amazon account. When you borrow a title from someone else, you have to accept within seven days, and it is available for 14 days after that — and it won’t be available to lend again.

Also: How to share or loan a Kindle book

Aside from lending titles, you also can be added as a household member on someone else’s Amazon Prime account. There’s a limit of how many people can join a single Prime membership, but there are no limits on book sharing among the adults and children in the household.

Not free, but close

  • Kindle Unlimited: Amazon also offers a membership separate from Prime for avid readers for $9.99 a month. Kindle Unlimited gives members access to over 2 million titles and magazines. Unfortunately, not every book on Amazon’s catalog is available with the subscription. If you’re a fan of listening to your books, you can enjoy unlimited listening of books with Audible audiobooks. When you get Kindle Unlimited, you borrow the book you want to read and access it on your Kindle e-reader or the Kindle app. This subscription is pretty great for those who like to read several books a month and don’t want to worry about spending too much.
  • Priced low on Amazon: Many great classic books are included for free in your Prime membership as well. However, there’s a lot of classic literature available for mere pennies. you can get Pride and Prejudice for only $0.19, for example, or Edgar Allan Poe’s Complete Tales & Poems for $0.99.

FAQ

Aside from the options above to get free books or books for less, you can shop for the cheapest Kindle books on Amazon’s deals. You can sign up for a newsletter exclusive to Kindle Book Deals. You also can shop Kindle daily, monthly, and exclusive deals, and browse the best deals in different categories.

Unfortunately, not all books are included with a Kindle Unlimited subscription. KU members have access to a catalog of over 2 million titles to choose from and they can borrow up to 10 titles at a time.