6 Places to Read Free Books Online

6 Places to Read Free Books Online graphic

At Books on the Wall, it’s no secret that we love reading—and if you’re here, we assume you do too! But if you’re anything like us, you probably spend waaaaaaay too much of your monthly budget on books. We can walk into a bookstore with the best of intentions—”only one book…okay, maybe two books…but that’s all, no more!”—but of course we always walk out with at least twice what we planned for. 

Not that this is such a bad thing. There are worse problems to be had, certainly. But some months, it’s just not a good idea to tempt ourselves by even walking into the local bookstore. But just because you’re watching your budget a little more closely doesn’t mean you can’t read some excellent works. In times like these, we turn to our handy list of free online books. (These also come in super handy when we’re up at 3 AM for no reason and need a new book to sink our teeth into.)

So for the love books, here are some great places to get free books online.

Project Gutenberg

This one comes first on our list of free books to read online because it’s simply our favorite. Project Gutenberg is online repository of over 50,000 (!) free online books available in several languages as both ebooks and audio book. The website has over 50 books each in at least 16 languages, and a handful of books each in another 30 or so languages. Each book is offered in a variety of file formats, usually both with and without illustrations or images.

What we especially love about Project Gutenberg is that’s completely run by volunteers. From proofreading to donating through PayPal, Project Gutenberg is always accepting help from volunteers around the world.


For those who have Kindles (or have the free Kindle for PC or Kindle for Mac apps, which let you download Kindle content to your computer or laptop), Amazon offers a large selection of free downloadable books. Many of these free books are classic novels that are also featured on Project Gutenberg’s extensive selection of free online books. However, Amazon does tend to have some more obscure titles (for better or for worse), as well as newer random books that authors have decided to make free for purchase. The site does also offer free previews of many of its ebooks for sale, allowing you to decide if the book is worth the purchase.


So this one doesn’t quite count as a place to read free books online, but it’s just as cool. Started in 2005, LibriVox is a not-for-profit, non-commercial website that offers a place to download and listen to free audio books. Just like Project Gutenberg, LibriVox is run by volunteers and accepts volunteers from all over the globe. LibriVox has a great collection of many genres: short stories, children’s books, general fiction, and non-fiction. You can search for free ebooks by title, author, or genre.

Here’s some great info about volunteering for LibriVox if you’re interested.

Open Library

As the name suggests, Open Library is a free online book resource based on the open ideology: open software, open access, and open documentation. This site is similar to Project Gutenberg but has a Wikipedia-esque twist. Users can add to the site in almost any way, from fixing a typo in a book to adding a widget into the code. Open Library boasts over 1 million titles, including both classic and contemporary fiction and non-fiction free books. What’s even more unique about Open Library is its collaboration with over 1,000 physical libraries that participate in its In-Library Lending Program. Users can search for contemporary books available from these libraries and then “check out” a PDF copyone patron at a timejust as if you had visited the actual library.

The Open Library project is run as part of the greater Internet Archive, a library for free online media of all types.

Quarterly West

Okay, this one isn’t a strictly a free online book source, either. But we think Quarterly West deserves a mention on this list because of its outstanding short stories, which are longer than those published on many other online literary magazines. The magazine, run by creative writing PhD students at the University of Utah, has also been in existence since 1976—though available only online since 2011. Quarterly West also hosts an annual novella contest, accepting submissions from 14,500 to 35,000 words. (If you’re wondering, “What’s the difference between a novel and a novella?” then check out our post on short novels you can read in a day.)


Launched in 2013, Scribd is an online collection of every kind of document you could imagine: books, comics, academic papers, and even sheet music. The site serves as an open sharing platform, in which users can send and share documents of any kind (as long as they adhere to the site’s guidelines). Scribd’s primary service is a paid monthly option, but you can sign up for a one-month trial to gain short-term access to free online books. If you do opt to continue with Scribd, the monthly fee is relatively inexpensive and may be worth if you find enough titles you’re interested in.

What sources to read free online books did we miss? Are they any that you particularly like? Please share them with us! We’re constantly trying to learn about the helpful resources out there for free ebooks and audiobooks.

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