More and more individuals are selecting eBooks and audiobooks over physical books as a result of advancements in digital technology. Millions of eBooks in every imaginable category are available on Amazon alone.
Some eBooks are free to download while you’ll have to pay a hefty price to download others. In this article, we’ve compile a list of some of the best free digital libraries for you to get your eBooks, audiobooks, and other online resources.
1. Open Library
Open Library started out as an online project designed to preserve interesting websites, ebooks, and other digital assets. Its founders wanted to “create a web page for every book ever published.”
Today, users can “borrow” and read millions of ebooks for free. All you need to do is to sign up for an account and browse the Open Library. You can even add new books to its collection.
Registered users can also create custom lists of eBooks, such as “Want to Read” or “Have Read”. If you want to add a new book to its collection, register on the Internet Archive website, upload your book, and then create an entry on Open Library.
With a quick search, you’ll find ebooks in every genre, from art and sci-fi to medicine. The history collection, for example, features over 1.6 million titles. Luckily, you can filter the results by subject, author, and other criteria.
If you’re looking for a particular book, enter its name in the search bar. Or you can click on random ebooks and preview or “borrow” them for free. Some people prefer audiobooks vs. physical books, but you won’t have to choose since this platform offers both.
Another interesting feature is the Search Inside feature. If you need a specific piece of information, you can choose an ebook related to that topic and enter your query in the search bar. Just think about how much time you could save!
2. Project Gutenberg
Established in 1971, Project Gutenberg aims to digitize books and other cultural works. Today, it features over 60,000 free eBooks that you can download or read online. The best part is that you don’t need a PDF or eBook reader for your computer to access the titles in its collection.
Users can narrow down their search by title, popularity, author, language, and file type. They can also search by subject or by categories, such as audiobooks, pictures, or music.
While most ebooks are available in English, some have been published in Arabic, Ancient Greek, Navajo, or Mayan languages. This could be an opportunity to brush up on your language skills or even learn a foreign language from scratch.
Like Open Library, Project Gutenberg offers free ebooks in every category, from history and law to music, psychology, and science. Users also have access to “bookshelves” for specific content.
If, say, you want to learn more about the Spanish American War, you can go directly to that bookshelf instead of browsing through thousands of titles.
If you prefer Kindle over physical books, you’ll love using Project Gutenberg. When you select an eBook, you can choose to read it online, in plain text, or in Kindle format. There’s also the option to download free eBooks in EPUB format, with or without images. This feature may come in handy if you have limited space on your smartphone or tablet.
3. Internet Archive
Featuring over 32 million ebooks, the Internet Archive is the largest digital library ever created. In addition to free ebooks, its catalog includes 591 billion web pages and millions of videos, concerts, audio files, and software programs.
Think of the Internet Archive as a digital time machine. Some items in its collection date back to the ’90s and are not available anywhere else.
The ebooks are organized by category, but you can also search by collection, author, topic, or year of publishing. There’s also a huge selection of ebooks for those with disabilities. At the time of writing, the website features popular works such as Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Jaws, and Dune.
Users have the option to rate and review the books they read. If you find a book that looks interesting, click on it to see what others have to say. After registration, you can upload ebooks and other media files from your personal collection.
4. Wiley Online Library
Whether you’re doing research for an essay, white paper, or science project, it can be difficult to find trustworthy sources. That’s where the Wiley Online Library comes in handy.
This digital library offers over 22,000 online books, 1,600 journals, and hundreds of reference works. Most resources are science-focused, covering all topics.
The Business & Management collection, for example, includes hundreds of eBooks and articles on consumer behavior, management, and business technology.
If you’re ready to learn a new programming language, head over to the Information Technology section. Narrow down your search by publication date, subject, author, or publisher.
Not all ebooks are free to read and download, but you can browse them or access specific chapters. Look for the Free Access icon to see which books are available for free.
5. World Digital Library
Launched in 2009, the World Digital Library’s selection of rare books, manuscripts, and other materials dates back to 8,000 BC. The collection includes more than 19,000 publications from over 190 countries.
This project was developed by the U.S. Library of Congress and UNESCO with the purpose of making culture available to everyone. It features thousands of books, photos, and maps that were once only available in certain galleries, so it’s just like visiting virtual museums from home.
Anyone can download the books for free. Depending on what you’re interested in, you may want to check out the rare book collection on offer. There’s also the option to search by place, topic, time period, language, or institution.
6. Free Ebooks
Free Ebooks lets you access a trove of ebooks from every category, each of which you can find in a dedicated section—Fiction, Non-Fiction, Academic, Textbooks, Classics, and Others. Its digital library is pretty well stacked, and every title is neatly classified, so whatever you’re looking for, you’re bound to find it quick and easy.
Free Ebooks is a great place to download unique ebooks for free, but it comes with a caveat. You can create a free account that lets you access free ebooks, but only five times a month and only in a PDF format.
After your five downloads for the month are done, you have to wait until the next one rolls around to continue downloading. If that doesn’t work for you, the platform does offer a V.I.P. level account that starts at $7.95/month and lends you unlimited downloads in multiple formats besides PDF.
Bookbub has a dedicated free ebooks section that takes you to an extensive digital library full of free titles you can download. Its selection is ever-changing, so you’re sure to find something fresh to read every time you browse.
Once you visit the free ebooks tab, you can further filter out the titles Bookbub shows you. You can choose the category, limiting it to one or several, as well as the retailer and collections. Bookbub’s ebooks are available to read on all the prominent devices in the respective supported formats: Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Apple Books, Google Play, and Kobo. Plus, there’s no limit to how many ebooks you can download, so you can go wild.
8. Baen Free Library
Baen Free Library is a bit more niche since its digital library focuses on science fiction and fantasy titles. So, if that’s right up your alley, look no further.
The digital library offers an array of ebooks you can read online or download for free. You can get the ebooks in the standard formats, EPUB, MOBI, PDF, or any device-specific ones for your eReader of choice. You can also email the ebook to an address of your choice.
The website looks a bit outdated when you first land on it, but don’t let that stop you from using it.
ManyBooks does indeed have a lot of ebooks to offer. The digital library offers over 50,000 ebooks for you to explore, all of which come from every category and genre you can imagine. When looking through the online library, you can select your preferred genre, language, and rating to hone your search.
The digital library doesn’t have a dedicated free section, so all the titles are mixed together. When you click on one, you can see whether it’s free to download and read online or not. Each eBook comes with an extensive description of the story and the author, as well as a book excerpt and summary to understand the book you’re considering.
ManyBooks helps you find many known classics and discover new titles to tackle.
Whereas other digital libraries ensure you have access to timeless classics, Smashwords goes the opposite direction. So, rather than finding Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne, you’d discover Around the World in 80 Pages by Sharon E. Cathcart on the platform.
Smashwords is considered an indie author hub where you can look for newly released titles. You can choose whether to read the ebooks online or download them. You can usually download each ebook in a variety of formats, including the most popular ones: PDF and EPUB.
When exploring the online library, you can refine your search by ticking the Free box and your preferred book length under 20K words or over 20K, 50K, and 100K words.
At the time of writing, the platform boasts over 90,000 free ebooks, so there’s a lot to explore.
As you already know, there’s always room for growth. However, this doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune on books and courses. Whether you want to learn a new language, develop your skills, or start a project, everything you need is at your fingertips.
For starters, visit these digital libraries and take your pick. Head over to the Internet Archive for a stroll back in time, or check out the World Digital Library to expand your cultural horizons. If you’re doing research for a science paper or work project, go to the Wiley Online Library to get the facts straight.
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