Where can I download free ebooks from?

It's FREE!

Strangely, the best place is where you buy ebooks from. All of the big retailers who sell ebooks also offer free ebooks. Of course they don’t make money on those so you are unlikely to find them advertising them or even making them easy to find. For years I found doing a search on Amazon for ‘free ebooks‘ produced an impressive list of books with prices. The same was true for Apple, Barnes and Noble (Nook), Kobo and others. They’ve got a little better now and you can find some freebies with that search but not many among the millions which are there.

Amazon is the biggest ebook retailer and it has a free app which allows you to get books on non-Kindle devices. PCs, iOS computers, Android tablets and SmartPhones. You can even read on Linux and Ubantu using the Cloud Reader and read offline by using the Cloud Reader’s ‘Download and pin book’ option.

Where can you find free ebooks at Amazon?

Try going to one of these links which will take you to the lists of the top 100 free ebooks:
If this list doesn’t include the genre you want use the links at the left of the page to select the genre you want but make sure you select the ‘Top 100 free’ tab.
Of course if a book isn’t in the top 100, it won’t be shown. In that case you’ll have to get a link from one of the many book promotion websites. The best known is Bookbub. My personal favorite is Book Barbarian because I like Science Fiction books. Both of these sites will send you a daily email of the genres you like. There are many others. Try a Google search for ‘book promotion sites’.
Kindle books are in MOBI or AZW3 format.

What about free ebooks at iBooks?

On a Mac, launch iBooks (if you don’t have it, it’s a free download). Click on iBooks Store. On the right, you’ll see a list of ‘Quick Links’. Click on ‘Free Books’.

On an iOS device, tap ‘iBooks’, tap ‘Featured’. The ones marked ‘GET’ where the price is normally shown are free. Again, if a book is not ‘Featured’ you’ll need a link or the name of the book to search for it. Here’s two of our free ebooks at iBooks – Immortality Gene (a technothriller) and Raging Storm (a paranormal romance).

iBooks are in EPUB format.

Other free ebook sources

Barnes and Noble and Kobo also have free ebooks. Kobo supply ebooks to many other retailers. In the UK that includes TescoSainsburys and WH Smith.

Smashwords is a great site for ebooks.

Find Smashwords at smashwords.com
Its advantages are that:
  • You can pay via PayPal and for free ebooks you don’t have to provide any financial details.
  • It has a price section which includes a prominent FREE area.
  • It’s ebooks are available in multiple formats. MOBI, EPUB and others.
  • It’s also often a fraction cheaper than other retailers for paid books.
  • You can actually earn money by promoting ebooks there.
  • You may find an author will give away coupons which let you have free or reduced price ebooks there.
  • Unlike other retailers Smashwords ebooks don’t have DRM copy protection built in so you can move your ebooks onto other devices.

What about Google Play ebooks?

Project Gutenberg offers out of copyright books

Find it at gutenberg.org. It offers more than 53,000 free, out-of-copyright books in multiple formats.

What if I have a Kindle Fire and want to read an EPUB ebook?

It’s not surprising that Amazon don’t offer an EPUB reading app in their store but that doesn’t mean you can’t install one. You’ll need to ‘sideload’ the app. Get instructions here.

What if I have an e-ink Kindle and want to read an EPUB ebook?

You can’t do that. You’ll have to convert the ebook to MOBI format then email the ebook to your Kindle device email address. An open source (free) program called ‘calibre‘ can do that if the file is not protected with DRM (get it at Smashwords—their books don’t use DRM).

What if I want a PDF ebook?

Yes, it’s possible BUT you need to be aware of the risks.
  • PDF files are designed for printing not for e-reading. Although most e-reading devices will read them, it’s a clumsy process involving lots of scrolling since the text won’t flow as it’s enlarged.
  • PDF files are frequently infected with malware. Why do you think so many pirate sites are out there offering free ebooks? They want to infect your computer. If you MUST have a PDF file, get it from a non-pirate site which won’t infect you such as Smashwords.
  • PDF pirate copies of ebooks are stealing from the author. Are you OK with that?
Earn money from ebooks – even if NOT an author

Earn money from ebooks – even if NOT an author

It’s easy – Become a Smashwords Affiliate

 

If you encourage others to get e-books from Smashwords you can get paid by them.
  • It’s easy to set up
  • It’s easy to make the links needed
  • You can earn between 11% and 70% of the book price. The actual amount you get is set by the author, not Smashwords
  • Smashwords say they credit your account within 48 hours and will pay you each quarter (provided you’ve earned $25 at least).
You will need a Smashwords account. Go here to get one and click the ‘Learn what we have to offer readers and authors’ button in the ‘Welcome Guest’ section. It’s free to set up.
Once you’ve got a Smashwords account learn about their affiliates at this plain English page – https://www.smashwords.com/about/smashwords_affiliate_documentation . Follow their instructions to set up as an affiliate.

Smashwords affiliate fees

Smashwords offers affiliate payments of 11% to 70.5% of the retail price of e-books. The actual percentage offered is determined by the author. I, for example, offer a 35% affiliate rate. The default is 11%. Anyone age 18+ with a Smashwords account is eligable to enroll.
Smashwords encourages the use of affiliate tags on free e-books and the author’s own e-book links. You won’t earn anything on those e-books but if a customer goes on to view and purchase other items at Smashwords, you’ll get affiliate payments for those.
Affiliate fees come from the author’s royalties. The author can choose not to offer affiliate payments. If an author elects to not offer an affiliate program for a book then the author’s royalty is 85%.
Affiliate links are easy to create. My preferred method is to append the ?ref=[yourScreenName] code to links where [yourScreenName] is the bit after https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/ on your ‘My Smashwords page’ at https://www.smashwords.com/profile Use the links, for example in Twitter, Facebook or other social media.

There are other affiliate schemes for books

Amazon offers one. Amazon offers 4% to 8.5% though. Far less than Smashwords. Their scheme isn’t as simple. To earn 8.5% you would have to sell 3,131 books in a month. Some may do that but most won’t.
 
If you managed to sell Amazon’s 3,131 books at Smashwords and they were ours, we would both earn an extra $3,298.51 because we offer a 35% affiliate payment.
Give it a go – you can’t lose anything. To get you started here’s a Twitter and Facebook post you could make. Replace the ‘JChapman‘ in them with your own Smashwords affiliate tag.

Twitter post

Get a FREE #technothriller at #Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/180258?ref=JChapman pic.twitter.com/lcyOHHO9Hr
 
It will look something like:

Facebook post

Amazon isn’t the only place to get e-books. Smashwords has them available in all formats. This one is #FREE https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/180258?ref=JChapman
For this one you’ll need to click the camera icon and add this image (right click this image to download it to your computer then upload it to Facebook using the camera icon):
On Facebook, it will look something like:
Finally – here are more of our books at Smashwords you can link to, together with more promotional images.
Beware the word ‘Bestseller’

Beware the word ‘Bestseller’

Every day my mailbox is bombarded with marketing emails from people who want to help me become a ‘bestseller’ but what exactly is a ‘bestseller’?

“He’s launched 3 books in the last 12 months and each of ‘em were NO.1 bestsellers.”  was today’s claim – Yeah right. Let’s take a look at today’s ‘bestsellers.’

The overall #1 bestseller in Amazon paid e-books at the time of researching this was ‘Grey’ (Shame on you readers!)

It’s selling 4,000+ copies a day and is #1 Paid in Kindle Store. It’s
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Contemporary Fiction > Romance
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance
#1 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Erotica > Romantic

Now if the promoter was able to say he’d got 3 books in the top 100 paid sales rank I would be very impressed and he would undoubtedly be a stellar bestseller. He didn’t say that though and if his book genre was Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Foreign Languages > Other Languages > Hungarian he could be a ‘#1 bestseller with an overall rank of 1,287,139. That would mean he’s selling about one book every 1-2 months. There a lot of these obscure categories so when you see these ‘#1 bestseller’ claims – take it with a pinch of salt. If the promoter’s system really works well they would quote the Amazon overall sales rank.

You’ll find many authors claim to be a ‘bestselling’ author if they have ever had a book in the top 100 of any category, Look for #100 in some genres at Amazon and you may find they stop at #18. That probably means the book in that rank has sold just a few copies.

Here’s a few of today’s #1 bestsellers chosen from random genres with estimates of their sales:

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Arts & Photography > Architecture > Architects, A-Z #11,301 Paid in Kindle Store (about 430 sales in the last 30 days)

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Biographies & Memoirs > Professionals & Academics > Lawyers & Judges #3,744 Paid in Kindle Store (about 2,100 sales in the last 30 days)

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Business & Money > Taxation > Small Business #32,983 Paid in Kindle Store (about 140 sales in the last 30 days)

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Crafts, Hobbies & Home > Interior Design > Upholstery & Fabrics #182,406 Paid in Kindle Store (about 4 sales in the last 30 days)

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Education & Teaching > Higher & Continuing Education > College Guides #23,812 Paid in Kindle Store (about 245 sales in the last 30 days)

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Foreign Languages > Other Languages > Hungarian #1,287,139 Paid in Kindle Store (Probably no sales in the last 30 days)

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Engineering & Transportation > Transportation > Ships > Pictorial #219,700 Paid in Kindle Store (about 2 sales in the last 30 days)

As to me I’ve been #1 bestseller in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers > Technothrillers with a best ever overall rank of #540 in paid. I’ve also been #1 in Science fiction > Genetic engineering and #1 in Science fiction adventure. I don’t claim to be a bestselling author even though there are 50,000 of my books in circulation.

Beware the ‘bestseller’; it’s a word which can mean little and for an author to use it smacks of desperation.

E-books or print – which do you prefer?

E-books or print – which do you prefer?

I’ll choose e-readers – no contest.

 

  • Whilst I too love the smell and feel of a book, we buy them for their content not their smell and feel. If the lack of ‘paper smell’ bothers you you can buy a ‘book smell‘ perfume to spray on your e-reader.
  • “I prefer real books” is a phrase I often hear. Usually I hear it from those who have not yet got an e-reader, Every time I hear it I imagine those people who first came across bound books. Did they think “Nice, but I prefer scrolls.”?
  • My mother has just had her 92nd birthday and spends a lot of time reading. She finds it easier to read large print and prefers thinner books since she finds these easier to hold. You can change the text size in an e-book and they are much lighter.
  • I’d much rather carry an e-reader than the complete Encyclopaedia Britannica. I think my library of 3,000+ paper books probably weighs about a ton. Most of them could fit on my ancient Kindle Keyboard e-reader.
  • About a year ago I finished reading a hardback book I’ve had since 2009. Stephen King’s ‘Under the Dome.’ I had not read it because it weighs 1.3 kilograms (2.3 pounds) – too heavy to read unsupported. (Enjoyable book if you want to read it) I’d looked for it as an e-book but due to the Amazon/Hachette dispute couldn’t find it. In the end I read it in bed before sleeping with it supported on my knees.
  • Putting another book on the bookshelf may satisfy some people but I have trouble finding a space for an extra book on my shelves. I’ve used up all the normal space (two books deep) and have run out of space between the book tops and the next shelf!
  • I like to read relaxing in a bath. I may fall asleep and a soggy book is not easy to salvage. Your e-reader may not like water either but you can read it inside a ziplock plastic bag far easier than a paper copy!
  • My e-readers play music and can read my book to me. The only paper book I have that does that was bought years ago for my children.
  • Can you get Internet on a paper book? Maybe this will be possible in the future when flexible screens become available. My Nexus 7 has full Internet, plays movies, makes video calls and takes pictures also. (OK – not very good ones)
  • Do you feel the author needs rewarding for the time they spent writing your book? If you do then be aware that authors earn more money from e-books than from paper books.
  • Price? In general e-books cost less than a new book. Second-hand paper books may cost even less but your choice may be limited.
  • When you buy an e-book you buy a licence to read it. Most people are not keen on this but if you face a disaster which destroys your library – a fire,  your ebooks will still be there in the cloud whereas your paper books will be in the smoke.
  • The ‘wicked bible’ error.

    Few books are perfect. They contain typos, spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes, timeline errors, sentences which could be phrased better. Once you’ve bought a paper book – you’re stuck with the errors but ebooks can be updated.

That’s my choice. What about you?