If you're a bookworm, the cost of reading can add up to quite a bit. The average cost of a paperback book is around $10. The average cost of a hardcover book is around $20. The average cost of a digital book download is $3. While you can surely save a lot of money by subscribing to premium digital book libraries, there are over a hundred different websites online that allow you to download and read books completely free. Most of them offer multiple different download formats, languages, and the option to read both online and offline.
Where to read & download free books online
Whether you're looking for mystery novels, classic literature, non-fiction, or romance novels, these are the best websites that offer free book downloads in 2022.
The oldest library of searchable free books
Project Gutenberg is one of the oldest (and largest) resource for free book downloads. It's been around for over 50 years (since 1971) and is home to over 60,000 free ebooks. There's no fee or registration required to read any of the books, nor do you need any apps if you wanted to read online. The only downside to Project Gutenberg is that most books are English only and many of the books are not free outside of the US due to copyright laws.
Nicest user experience
Cited as one of Time Magazine's Top 50 Websites, Read Print is a very well designed website that paid a lot of attention to reading experience. A lot of free book libraries don't pay much attention to user experience, but Read Print has managed to create one of the best ways to discover and read books for free. Registration is not required to read any of the books (although you may want to if you want to save and keep track of the books you've read), and you can read directly from your browser. They also let you change into reader mode if you don't want to use their built reading interface. I love all the little details of this website.
Childrens books for the entire world
The International Children's Digital Library is a wonderful resource for parents. It's a library of thousands of children's books that were scanned and made free for reading online. They offer books in 76 different languages and you can easily search through the books you want using their categories. The reading experience is not the best, though. Since the books are scans, you have to read through books like you're sifting through images.
Free books of all genres (mainly fiction)
ManyBooks is one of the largest and best organized libraries of free books available to everyone online. It has over 50,000 books, and offers over 60 different genres ranging from health and history to horror and romance to poetry and short stories. You can dowload books in multiple different format options or read them directly online.
Free computer, mathetmatics, and technical books from all over the world
I was surprised at how many of my technical friends have never heard of Free Computer Books before. It's an amazing resource of free computer books on every computer subject and programming language in the world. The only downside to this resource is that all the books are not housed on their own servers. Instead, they link to other sources so download and reading experiences may vary depending on the source.
Free cultural and educational books
Open Culture is not the largest collection of free books on the web, but they have an impressive list of over 800 books in philosophy and the humanities. You'll find books from authors like Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Hemingway, and Shakespeare. I first discovered this website last summer and it's been a lifesaver during my long stays at home during the pandemic. I dove into books like Beowulk and Aesop's Fables, and have fallen in love with the classics.
The Open Culture website consists of more than just books. Open Culture is a central hub of resources for cultural and educational media. You'll find everything from free movies, free courses, free textbooks, and audiobooks.
The Google Play Store has a gigantic library of ebooks you can purchase and read. But they also have a free books section. It's not the largest library of books (we counted around 250 titles at the time this was published), and it's not very well organized. But if you're a fan of randomness and choosing your next read impulsively, then this is actually a great resource. I actually love scrolling through the list once in a while, and I'll end up reading something I probably never would have thought to read if I had not seen it randomly on here.
Viewing government documents
Archive.org, the archive of the internet, has an enormous library of free downloadable books (33,903,035 results came up in their library). While there are millions of books (fiction and non-fiction) the most interesting ones for me are the collections of documents from libraries, government, federal institutions. For instance, last weekend, I spent my Saturday night scourging through CIA documents.
The only downside to Archive.org is that the website can be quite slow and unresponsive at times due to the sheer size of their database and website traffic. In this case, there's an alternative right below this one called Open Library.
Alternative resource when Archive.org doesn't work
Archive.org is a massive library that houses the entire archives, so it's often slow and unresponsive during busy hours. Open Library is an alternative to Archive.org since all it really does is pull results from the Archive.org website. There are multiple download formats available, and you have access to hundreds of thousands of free books at your fingertips.
Best for Kindle owners
Amazon's Kindle library houses millions of books ranging on any subject you can think of. They also have a free books section that has tens of thousands of books available in multiple languages. Since I own a Kindle, I find myself going to the Free Kindle Books section often to read classical books.
Searchable library of papers and text
LibGen (short for Library Genesis), is a searchable database of journal articles, academic books, science papers and general-interest books. Unlike many of the other resources in this list, LibGen is more of a file-sharing website and could be a difficult to navigate for the average user. However, once you get a hang of the UI, you'll have access to over 80 million free books at your fingertips in multiple different languages.
My favorite reading experience website
If you're looking for a bare-bones website that's fast, minimal, and provides the best user experience, it's Authorama hands down. The website design is really outdated but that's what makes the experience so great in my opinion (like Craigslist). The books are written in HTML and XHTML which means they load just like a webpage rather than in a reader-window like many of the other sites. When I don't have my Kindle with me, and I want to read something in my browser, Authorama is usually my website of choice.
Access thousands of free public domain book downloads
Feedbooks has thousands of public domain book downloads to choose from. The majority of books on the platform are fiction books, and it provides a very fast and clean experience for users to find and download books. I visit Feedbooks often to check the most popular section to see what other people are reading. Last week, I started The Art of War by Sun Tzu and downloaded it for free, which was a book I had in my Amazon cart for a very long time. Not all of the books on Feedbooks are free, just the ones in the free category.
Best resource for reading random things spontaneously
Wikisource has hundreds of thousands of items to read. I don't want to call them books since they're not technically books. They're more like “pieces of content” and there are a vast number of them, in multiple langues, on just about any subject you can think of. The hardest part is knowing what to read about. One thing I love doing is just using their Random Book or Random Page feature when I'm in a spontaneous mood to learn something random. The downside of Wikisource is that because most of the content is user-submitted, the quality can be poor at times.
A library of free textbooks you can download and read for free
Wikibooks is a great resource for textbooks that you might not find on other websites. They have cookbooks, childrens books for kids 12 years of age and under, and textbooks on a variety of different subjects. As with most wiki open source library projects, Wikibooks comes in multiple different languages.
I most recently used Wikibooks for a Chicken Tikka Masala recipe and it turned out amazing. Sure I could have probably just used YouTube and found a more visual guide, but I liked the simple layout of Wikibooks and wanted to give it a try.
The largest library of online books about religion, mythology, folklore, and the esoteric
Sacred Texts is the largest resource for free books about religion, mythology, folklore, and the esoteric. You can download to read them offline or read them straight from your browser. There aren't many websites like Sacred Texts and it's very interesting to read about different religions and mythologies.
A more premium library of free books
Scribd is normally a paid service that costs $9.99 USD per month. However, you can use their website free for 30 days. They have a huge library of just about any kind of literature and text you can think of. As well as books, they also have magazines, audiobooks, documents, and even sheet music. Because it's a premium service, you'll be able to access books that normally are not free. But if you're up for registering, you can try it out for 30 days and you'll get access to everything in their library.
Read classic works of English literature
Literature.org isn't the largest library of free books online, but they have a really fast website since it's so minimal. They have free books from Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, and many more. They also have non-fiction books by the greats like Charles Darwin and Rene Descartes. There are no ads, no downloads, and the text is all in HTML. That means everything is really fast and easy to access, and reading online is the best possible experience.
Best for people who prefer nice PDF's
Planet eBook doesn't have a very large library of books, but they're great if you prefer to do your reading through PDF's. Planet eBook is mainly for English literature like The Greatsby, Pride and Prejudice, and Great Expectations to name a few. They make very nice and clean PDF's out of their books that you can read instantly. No registration is required.
And there you have it! These resources alone are enough to last several lifetimes of reading material.
Are there more resources for free books other the ones on this list?
Yes! There are hundreds of resources if you look hard enough. But many of them are either similar to the ones above or have less titles. The ones we listed in this list are the cream of the crop for finding free books online. This list will be continously updated as we scour the web for more sites to download free books online. As we discover new sites, we'll add them to this list.