Despite the enduring popularity of the physical paper back book, eBooks read via eReaders, tablets and smartphones continue to grow in popularity. There's a lot to be said for the convenience of being able to carry about your person a library of books. And that's before you consider the convenience of being able to hold a book in one hand and read comfortably even when lying down. Get an iPad mini or an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite and you can read a backlit screen in bed while your partner sleeps. Such are the perks of being alive in the early 21st Century. (See Best 8" tablets of 2014 for more.)
The down sides? As ever in the world of modern tech you end up paying for privilege. Rightly or wrongly the internet feels like it should be free and, well, most eBooks aren't. Authors and publishers have to make a living, and your average eBook costs much the same as the paperback version of the same title.
What you may not appreciate is how easy it is to source books for free. Not every book of course, but certainly many of the classics and a smorgasbord of interesting (and less interesting) self-published titles. In this article we'll look at the best places to source free eBooks, and how to get them on your Kindle, iPad or other e-reading device.
Free books from Kindle
There are many thousands of free books available from Amazon itself, so if you are using a Kindle or the Kindle app for iPhone you are in luck. This is a good thing, too, because it is notoriously difficult to get ePub docs on to your Kindle e-reader - less so for the iPad. Perhaps understandably Amazon doesn't make them easy to find, however. In fact, either via the Kindle interface or the Kindle app it is next to impossible to find them.
STOP PRESS: I'm indebted to my correspondent Pine Man, for pointing out the following:
'Go to Amazons kindle store and put 'free kindle books' in the search dialogue box. It's as simple as that and you get 41,289 results.'
Thanks Pine Man.
We'd recommend instead you use http://www.jungle-search.com/UK/, the unofficial Amazon search engine. Drill down until you get to Kindle Store, Kindle eBooks, and then set the price range to O to O.
As of this writing there are more than 40,000 free eBooks available for Kindle for you to browse through. 'Purchase' them while logged in to your Kindle account and they'll sync to your Kindle or iPad.
Free books for iPad from the iBook store
If you are using an iPad you can also find free books in the iBook Store. You do have to search for them by specific title, however, and wwe can't find a way of filtering only free books. Our best advice is to search for titles you think may be free, or search price low to high. If you have any better ideas let us know in the comments below. (See also: Group test: what's the best e-reader?)
Import free ePub files on to your iPad or Kindle
There are myriad ways to find free ePub format eBooks - some of them are even legitimate! You could, for instance, source free books from Project Gutenberg. That particular source does allow you to download books in Kindle format too, which is great, but here we'll look at how to read ePub docs on Kindle and iPad. You can import them to iPad, and convert them for Kindle. (Where you find the ePubs is your own business.)
Here's how to convert ePub files so they work on Kindle. You need free software called Calibre eBook, download here http://calibre-ebook.com/. You'll be prompted to choose a language, set up a folder, and select your primary e-reading device. Once set up you choose to add books by clicking the large icon in the top left. Select the ePub files you want to convert and click "Convert books" in the top bar. Calibre will automatically convert to the MOBI format if you have set a Kindle as your primary reader. Once you've converted files you can send them straight to your Kindle from within Calibre by selecting 'Connect/share' or pointing your Kindle at the correct folder.
Here's how to import ePub books to your iPad via iTunes You simply need to connect your iPad to a PC or Mac running a recent version of iTunes. You can't directly drop a book on to your iPad, but dragging the file into iTunes will put the book in your sync queue. Sync the iPad and book will appear in the iBooks app. See also: The 9 best 10in tablets: the best 10 inch tablets you can buy in 2013.