Resources for Readers- How to Find Free or Cheap Books Legally

July 27, 2018     erinthebooknut     Discussion, Feature, Libraries, List, Opinion Piece, Rant, Recommendations


I’ve posted before about places for reviewers to get review copies for free but with the recent discussion of piracy it was brought up that there are few of the opportunities for readers. This is not wholly true. They are difficult to find to be sure, and there are plenty of low cost options as well. Most people just haven’t heard of them.

This post aims to give the people with little to no access to books without piracy a chance to find other legal ways to get books. I will divide it into two sections. The free book section and the cheap book section. Libraries are not accessible to everyone so here are a few more options.


Free Books-

Library eCards-

Some libraries allow what they call ecards to access online materials for free. Libraries in the CLEVNET, Dayton, andseveral other library systems allow anyone residing within or owning property in Ohio to have an ecard. Make a friend in Ohio or other states that do this or check out if yours is part of this group.

Author Newsletters

Some authors do giveaways through their newsletters so keep a sharp eye out. Also check their social media, blogs, websites, or feeds to see what they may be offering. Some even have free content available on their websites!

Publisher Newsletters

Many of the big publishers have newsletters you can sign up for that offer giveaways you can check out. Never discount a good newsletter. The Novl and Fierce Reads are great at this and Epic Reads regularly has giveaways on its website.

Blog Giveaways

Always worth a shot but definitely difficult for non US readers. Try following some non US/CA blog and seeing what they have to offer! Plus you get some good reading material in their content.

Goodreads Giveaways

Goodreads allows you to filter by country so this is a great resource for INTL folks!


This website has two options: One for reviewers and one for readers. The great thing and that the reviewer requirement can be filled by just reviewing the book on Librarything itself.


Booklikes always has a giveaway page running, and most of the offerings are really different! A lot of indie authors get their work out this way, gifting ebooks, audio, and FC. It’s even how I discovered Quirk Books.


Sign up and get emails with freebies sent right to your inbox!

Free Book Friday

Pretty much the same deal as above, mailing lists full of free reads.


See above.


You can get an ecard to a library through Overdrive itself using your cell phone number. It’s good for 365 days (I’m assuming you can renew after?) and you have access to whatever digital collection that library owns. I have 4 libraries on my account.


Sorta like Overdrive only streaming. I’m not a huge fan of the selection but for others its perfectly fine.

Shelf Awareness for Readers

An SA Newsletter for those not in the industry as a professional. They often have interesting information as well as giveaway opportunities.


Simon Teen’s free book service. Each month they offer titles to be read free and in their entirety on the website. Plus giveaways.

Little Free Libraries

Some cities and small towns have little free libraries donated by a Scout troop or a library where people can take a book and leave a book. Or in my case DROP OFF HUGE STACKS AND FILL THE THING!

The FREE Sections on Kindle, Nook, and Kobo

You’d be surprised what you can find in here. Filter through by your personal tastes.


Many classic novels are now out of the jurisdiction of copyright, also called being in PUBLIC DOMAIN. You can read these free online, download them, print them out, whatever you want!

Free Trials

These babies are your friend. KU, Audible, All You Can Books, Scribd, there are tons of these. Just remember to cancel!

Kindle Owner’s Lending Library/Prime Reading

This one is for Prime Users. If you already have Prime make sure you’re getting everything out of it. You can borrow one book a month from this library to a single account or any Household member who has an account tied to yours. Prime Reading seems similar only you can download 10 titles. They also have Amazon First Reads which allow you to pick from an editor’s choice of free not-yet-released books. One per month.

Other Options

Open Library, free audiobooks online, Librovox, MindWebs, fanfiction (hell yeah it counts), International Children’s Digital Library, Internet Sacred Text Archive, Many Books, Open Culture, Project Gutenberg, Read Print, (great shorts), Wattpad, Fictionpress, Wikisource, World Public Library, Goodreads’ Free Shelves, Feedbooks,, Smashwords, PDF Books World, Bookyards, Hathi Trust, Wikibooks,





One of the best newsletters for daily ebook deals. Shows you what platforms each is offered on.

Amazon Daily Deals

Amazon’s list of what’s on ebook deal every day. It’s not very comprehensive but it does the job.

Nook Deals

Barnes and Noble’s ebook deals. Sometimes the Teen Under 2.99 pages gets stuck unupdated for a few weeks but it’s my go to for cheap ebooks.

Audible Daily Deal

Same deal as Amazon DD but for audio.

Subscription Sites

If you can afford one these babies are great. Most are under $10 a month but that’s not possible for some people. Still, it is an option for those who can and many are unlimited use. Scribd, All You Can Books, KU, Audible, are all very popular.


Pretty much the same as Bookbub but sometimes has a different selection. Both newsletters often have free offerings as well.


I’m always trolling Goodwill for backlist titles. You never know what you can find and they’re usually under 5 bucks.

Better World Books

3 words: Worldwide Free Shipping. INTL readers this site is your friend and the money goes back into funding literacy programs! You can even offset your carbon footprint.

Book Outlet

Is it just me or have the prices gone up? Most likely to offset the new US free shipping after minimum order thing. Plus the reduced shipping prices overall. Still it’s way cheaper than retail and is legal, though authors won’t see payment from the selling of these “remainders”. INTL is still pricy for some.

Half Price Books

These guys sell online too! So don’t worry if there isn’t one in your town, HPB will ship from whatever store has the book you’re looking for.

Used Bookstores

Always a good option, especially if like a few of mine back home they use funds to pay for adult literacy and English as a second language classes.

Thrift Stores/Charity Shops

Volunteers of America, Salvation Army (I know they can be sketch), and other charities often run thrift stores which they say supports their efforts. Most of the time it is true and they often have selections of books available for sale on the cheap. I’m always hesitant with SA so I only buy there when there’s a hard to find book that I really really want. Several areas such as the UK  and Canada have these too. I don’t know enough about the rest of the world to know if your country has one you can use but try and find out.

Garage/Yard/Sidwalk Sales

I’ve gotten books from as low as 10 cents at these places. Mostly they’ll never charge you more than a few dollars for a book. Troll your neighborhood in the summer, especially Friday through Sunday. Check out your local paper to find adverts for more. I once got over 100 comic books for a dollar at one of these.


Did I miss anything? Share your resources in the comments below!

From my shelf to yours,



One response to “Resources for Readers- How to Find Free or Cheap Books Legally

  1. Laura

    You forgot friends! Some people are loath to lend out their books, but your close friends will probably be okay with one at a time. You can always trade, and they’ll probably have a different selection than you do. Chances are, at least one of your friends has a similar taste in books.

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