5 Legit Ways to Download Free eBooks & Audiobooks

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a reader in possession of a good book, must be in want of another good book. And books are expensive to buy, especially if you burn through them quickly like many of us do. So how can you (legally) keep yourself in reading material without spending a crazy amount of money?

Well, since this is a Library Blog, the #1 answer is obvious: use your public library card! But there are even more ways to get your hands (eyes) on free reading material. In this blog post I’m going to focus on downloadables (ebooks and audiobooks), and ways to legitimately get your electronic reading devices chock full of free stuff.  So many freebies, it’s easy to make “read more” one of your New Year’s resolutions. Thrifty readers rejoice!

1. Use Your Library’s Digital Collection. Free stuff is what libraries all about, and most have at least one e-book borrowing platform that their cardholders can access. At CPL, we have 3 (because we’re awesome like that): OverDrive, RBdigital, and hoopla. Each platform has slightly different borrowing rules, and a different collection of ebooks & audiobooks to choose from.  All you need is a library card and you can start downloading tons of free titles tonight!

2. Check out Open Library and Librivox.  Open Library features hundreds of thousands of scanned books, courtesy of the Internet Archive, offering classic literature, out-of-copyright, public domain works, and many modern titles.  eBooks can either be read page-by-page in a browser (requiring an internet connection), or downloaded to your device and read via the Overdrive Media Console app or a PDF reader. Librivox audiobooks are public domain works read by volunteers from all over the world. They are free for anyone to listen to on a computer, mobile device, or even to burn onto CDs.

3. Become a Reviewer with NetGalley and Edelweiss. Netgalley and Edelweiss  make digital ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) of upcoming books available in exchange for honest reviews. In order to gain access to their catalogs of available ebooks, you may be expected to publish regular reviews of what you read, but hey, that’s a small price to pay for free advance copies of books!

4. Promotional Offers & Sales from Major Retailers. Retail sites like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Google Play all offer free ebooks,  some are permanent freebies and some are for a limited time.  There’s lots of fiction and non-fiction titles, everything from new authors looking to get a sales boost, to established authors promoting their backlists. Check these sites regularly to grab some great deals.

5. And Speaking of Amazon…  Did you know Amazon Prime members have access to a bunch of free ebooks and audiobooks? If you’ve got Prime membership, you can take advantage of a lot of freebies through their Prime Reading program. Most are Kindle ebooks, but there are some audiobooks available through Audible.com, too,  including lots of podcasts from Audible Channels.

Vacation Reading

I don’t know about you, but I like to read on vacation. Considering I work in a library, it’s probably not surprising that I like to bring a book with me wherever I go, but vacation reading is special. Laying about, maybe on a beach or by a pool, with nothing on my schedule but relaxing with a book is my idea of a perfect vacation.

 

One wrinkle in this perfect plan, though,  is getting the books from here to there. How many to pack? (don’t want to run out…) How much book-space is in the suitcase? Are these books going to put me over the baggage weight limit?

 

This is where eBooks become the vacationing bibliophile’s best friend. You can bring 10 (or 20, or 30!) books with you in less space than 1 book would take in your luggage.  Rapture!

As I write this I am preparing to head out on a vacation myself, and believe me, I have loaded my ereader with plenty of reading material for my trip, downloaded for FREE from the library.  I use an e-ink reader (the kind with a monochrome screen, like Nook GlowLight and Kindle Paperwhite), so OverDrive is my go-to for downloading eBooks from the library.  I can borrow up to 10 titles at once, and keep them on my ereader for up to 21 days, after which they will return themselves. No worries about overdue books on my vacation.

If you prefer to read on a tablet (color screen, like an iPad), there are even more options for downloading eBooks. You can use the OverDrive App for iPad & Android to download & read eBooks. You can also use the hoopla app to download 5 books a month for up to 21 days, and they’ll return themselves at the end of the lending period. Super simple, and best of all free, with a Cheshire Library card.

I’ll be by the pool…

Like Romance Novels but Hate the Covers? Here’s one solution.

I’m going to come clean – I’m a romance reader. There, I’ve said it. There can be some  stigma about the genre, though. Smart women don’t read romance. Romance is poorly-written schlock. It’s paperback porn. And the covers – oh the covers! – don’t exactly help overcome these assumptions about the quality of romance books.

Well, I’m a smart woman. I’m not a fan of bad writing. And the porn argument is pretty sexist. One thing I can’t argue with, though, are the covers; so many of them are just awful.

Like every genre, they’re not ALL gems, but these cheesy covers dumb the books down considerably. So what’s a romance-loving, cover-cringing reader to do?

E-books! We can read the books we like without flashing the eyebrow-raising covers around. Until the publishers figure out that romance readers don’t need a disembodied torso on the cover to sell copies, I will do most of my reading with a digital book.

These are just a few books I’ve loved in which the cover (and sometimes even the title!) had little or nothing to do with the actual story. If I were going by the covers, I probably wouldn’t have picked up these books, and would have missed some great reads:

 

 

 

Lucky for me, the library has digital copies of these titles, plus a LOT more. Cheshire Library has a large collection of all types of ebooks (including romance) available to download with your CPL card to your device of choice.  Our OverDrive platform has over 1500 romance ebooks available to check out, while our hoopla platform has over 1000. Enough to keep the most voracious reader supplied with happy endings.    

Our Year in eBooks

We had a lot of eBook readers at Cheshire Library in 2015! Over 1000 unique users  checked out close to 8000 eBooks from our main digital catalog, OverDrive.

Here’s a breakdown our year in eBooks:

eBook Infographic-2015

Kindle was the preferred download format by a wide margin, and Go Set a Watchman was far and away the most downloaded eBook in our OverDrive collection in 2015.

Although OverDrive has our largest collection of eBooks, don’t forget that we also have ebooks available for download (with your Cheshire Library card) from our OneClick Digital and hoopla catalogs. Our “eLibraries” are open 24/7, you can check out books, movies, music, and magazines right from home whenever the mood strikes,  and the items return themselves, so there’s never a late fee! Head to the “Download It!” link on our website to learn more about our digital collections.