Like anyone who pays attention to book spheres online, I’ve been hearing a lot about people who habitually buy and return ebooks on Amazon. And I don’t mean cases where someone doesn’t like a book and returns it or hitting a hard limit topic and returning it. That’s a different thing. People are serially buying and returning books…or using Amazon like a library. I’m not going to break it all down. A quick google search will probably bring up hundreds…thousands of tweets, blog posts, Tiktoks, Instagram or Facebook posts about it (from both sides). It’s pretty much all over social media right now.
And I don’t honestly believe I need to say that this is a really shitty thing to do. Everyone knows you’re not supposed to buy a dress, tuck the tags, wear it to prom, and return it the next day. But people still do it. I feel like this is the same thing. Readers may rationalize it a hundred different ways, but all I see is a lot of ‘doth protest too much.’ We all know this is a shitty thing to do. Period. But people still do it.
I do not. But I happen to have thousands of ebooks available to read at any given time, many of which I didn’t pay for. So, I thought I might take a moment to highlight some of the ways I find LEGAL free books. Now, there are certainly tons of other services out there. It would take me all night to try and list them all, and I’d almost certainly still miss some. But these are the ones I have tried and/or use regularly. (But if you have others that you use, please add it in the comments. Let’s get as many as we can in one place.)
The caveat to this is that these are usually how one finds a book to read, not necessarily that one book you want to read at any particularly moment. Though I have a few tricks for that too. The biggest, though, is just suck it up and buy it (and don’t return it).
Do I really need to say, “Go to the library?” Your taxes pay for it. Why not get some use out of it? Most libraries have some form of digital catalogue now days. You don’t even have to leave the house to check anything out. Mine has Overdrive (AKA Libby) and Hoopla, for example. And between the two of them, I have literally thousands of digital and audio books (not to mention movies, comics, music, and TV shows) available to me 24/7.
However, if you live in the US, but somewhere that doesn’t have a huge digital selection, there are several US libraries that are still open to you. Some for a small yearly fee and some totally free!
But there are still options beyond libraries. I, like these serial returners, am a Kindle user. So, I keep a keen eye on Amazon’s daily freebies. If you go to Amazon Books, and order the books lowest to highest price (up in the right-hand corner), all the freebies will sift to the top. You can even search within genres. It’s super easy and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of free books everyday. (Though I don’t use Kobo, Google Play, or Apple Books, I’d bet the same is true there. Not to mention Smashwords always has freebies and seasonal sales, when tons more books are reduced to free.)
As an aside, though not free, you can then use Audible Match Maker and Amazon will tell you which of the ebooks you now own (that you picked up free) are available at a discount to those who’ve ‘bought’ the ebook. So, then you can end up with both the ebook and audio book for, like, $1.99.
There are no shortage of email services available to send you curated freebie lists as often as you want. (Bookbub, is a big one, for example, or Free Booksy.) Again, google is you friend. But my favorite is ereaderiq. Not only for the daily freebie lists, but because it allows you to follow authors and ASINs. “EReaderIQ is a price tracking service for Kindle books.” It takes a little patience, but this is what I use to track certain books that I’m hoping will come up free eventually. I especially like to put whole series together over time.
You just pop the ASIN or Amazon URL into the form and set the price you’re willing to pay. If that’s $0.00 then that’s what you set. And ereaderiq will email you a notification if or when the book’s price drops to zero. It is super satisfying (and easy).
Then there are just all the sites that gather legitimately free books into one place. I admittedly haven’t used all these, but these are sites like: Many Books, Project Gutenberg, Get Free Ebooks, or Baen.
If you’re willing to write a review in exchange for a free book Netgalley and Edelweiss are great resources. I’ve had more better luck with Netgalley than Edelweiss. But that’s personal preference more than anything else. Then there’s Book Sprout, Book Funnel, and StoryOrigin. I was also recently invited to join Reedsy, though I’ve yet to request a book from them.
Further, go anywhere authors gather—Goodreads, Library Thing, Bookbub, Facebook groups, etc.—I promise you, authors will be giving away books in exchange for reviews at some point. [Just don’t be a dick. If you accept one in exchange for a review, actually review it.]
Speaking of Goodreads and Library Thing, both have hundred of ongoing book giveaways, ebooks and physical books. You won’t win every one, obviously, but you’ve a pretty good chance of winning some. And on a smaller scale, there are literally thousands of book promotion blogs (like my Sadie’s Spotlight) that have tons of book giveaways (and even more with gift card giveaways, with which you could buy any book you choose…and not return it.)
As of the time of posting, there are 27 giveaways on Sadie’s Spotlight. And there are SO MANY other blogs of the same sort with similar giveaways happening. [If you happen to run one, feel free to share a link in the comments. I want to check it out, if no one else.]
I know we’re talking ebooks here, but I’m gonna throw these out there just for fun. Do you listen to audio books? Then check out Free Audio Codes or Audio Freebies for free Audible codes. About half the sites listed above have at least some audio books too.
Like I said, there are tons more resources out there than I’ve listed (or even know). These are just the ones I use regularly myself (and I bet I wake up tomorrow and remember at least one I’ve forgotten). But to further my point, here’s what a very quick google search brought up.
17,900,000 results. If even only a fraction of those are truly relevant, I think it’s safe to say readers can easily find enough free reading material to avoid fucking authors over. Don’t bother to @ me with your rationalizations.