Every Place Thrifty Bookworms Know to Look for Free Books (Including Paperback Books!)

Love to read? Here’s how to find thousands of free paperback books (eBooks and audiobooks too!).

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Love to read? Here's how to find thousands of free books—including paperback, eBook, and audiobook options—to feed your bookish addiction on the cheap. Download your favorite titles today!

I had no clue how many books I owned until I organized my entire book collection in Goodreads.

But even more surprising was the number of free books I had accumulated compared to the ones I purchased!

As much as I label myself a bookworm, the thrifty side of me doesn’t want to spend all my hard-earned money (or clutter up my bookshelves) on a book I’m probably going to only read once.

So anytime I see a limited time promotion pop up on various sites or email newsletters, I flood my Kindle with as many $0.00 titles as I can. Within reason, of course. There are plenty of books I skip! When it comes to my book collection, I’m still a minimalist who prioritizes quality over quantity.

If you’re a fellow bookworm who wants to feed your bookish addiction without spending a dime, the following ideas and websites are ones I’ve collected and bookmarked as my absolute favorites.

They include not just free eBooks, but free audiobooks and free paperback books too!

1. Borrow Books from Friends and Family 


This option is totally undervalued but a great way to read free books. If you have a title you want to read, ask around to make sure no one else has a copy of it before you buy. I know I personally could have saved so much money over the years if I had only checked with my friends first!

2. Start a Book Blog (or Bookstagram)

Paperback, Digital, and Audiobooks

Bloggers can get hundreds of free books to review from various publishing companies. I once had a book blog for this purpose, and it fueled my reading habit for years!

If I were starting an online book business today, I would definitely go with a blog as apposed to an Instagram account. It’s much easier to link to books through the Amazon or Bookshop affiliate programs, which help you earn a small commission via anyone who purchases through your link.

Learn how to start a blog in less than 15 minutes (and for super cheap!), then sign up through these companies to request your free books.

Let’s be Bookstagram Friends

Psst… I have a Bookstagram account (a book Instagram) just for fun! I’m @theunclutteredbookshelf if you’re interested in following my reviews and updates about all things books.

3. Participate in Book Loyalty Programs (They Offer Free Paperback Books!)

Paperback, Digital, and Audiobooks

Who doesn’t want to be rewarded with free books?

Some online bookstores and publishing companies offer incredible loyalty programs just by purchasing books through through their websites or completing other small tasks. When you earn a certain number of points, you can redeem those points for free books!

Here are the most popular programs right now:

  • Every 500 points earned at ThriftBooks (a used online bookstore) gives you a $5 credit for a free book. Most books are under $5, so you’ll have plenty of options. You earn points by purchasing books from their website, sharing with friends, and doing one-time actions like adding your birthday to your profile and shopping through the mobile app.
Reading Rewards
  • Christian-based publishing house Tyndale offers My Reader Rewards Club. While similar to ThriftBooks, you can also get free books without purchasing anything at all! That’s because you have the opportunity to participate in surveys, share social media graphics, give feedback on excerpts you’ve read, and refer friends for points. Once you earn enough points (100 minimum), you can redeem them for free books and Bibles from Tyndale. Get 25 points just for signing up HERE.
  • Penguin House Reader Rewards awards 10 points for every book purchased. You can purchase a qualifying title through their website or at a brick-and-mortar independent bookstore. Just upload your receipt for proof of purchase. When you earn 120 points (12 books total), you can redeem them for a free book.

4. Bookmark Websites Sharing eBook Deals


Finding quality free books online is all about knowing where to look. There are plenty of independent and self-published databases offering free downloads, but I always find their selections lacking. (And let’s be honest, even though you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, I often do!)

But this list is worth checking out. While I can’t vouch for every book promoted, you’ll definitely find higher quality options more often than not.

  • Book Bub – This is a newsletter sign-up that lists mostly $1.99 and $2.99 books. But if you scan their emails carefully, you’ll see some freebies!
  • Project Gutenberg – A digital library filled with classics.
  • Kindle Store – A Top 100 Free section with Amazon books from a variety of genres.
  • First Reads – Amazon Prime members who are also part of Kindle Unlimited get one free Kindle book per month with this program. They also send out an email to remind you which options are available.
  • Riveted by Simon Teen – This Simon & Schuster program offers free eBooks every month.

Many websites provide daily and/or weekly updates of free eBooks, so you’ll want to check in often to see their rotation. I highly recommend creating a new bookmark folder to your favorites. That way, you’ll never miss a free book!

5. Sign Up for a FREE Trial of Kindle Unlimited


Kindle Unlimited typically costs $9.99 per month but offers unlimited books to read on your Kindle. So how is that free, you ask?

Well, when you sign up for their 30-day trial, you can read as many books as you like! Just make sure to set a reminder on your phone to cancel if you don’t want to continue with the monthly fee.

Kindle Unlimited

However, sometimes, you’ll receive a special offer to extend your membership for 6-12 months at a deep discount. If you love reading and read books fairly quickly, this program might be worth it for you. It is for me! Many books that have longer wait times at my library are available right away on Kindle Unlimited.

6. Audible


Similar to the Kindle Unlimited offer, you can sign up for a free 30-day trial of Audible. During this trial, you get two free credits to redeem for audiobooks. 1 credit = 1 audiobook. So you can access two free books!

I’m not an audiobook fan personally, but I have plenty of friends (and a husband) who love them. So if you prefer listening rather than reading, or you find yourself strapped for time and like to do something productive while “reading,” audiobooks are the perfect option.

covers of audiobooks

7. Take Advantage of Your Local Library

Paperback, Digital and Audiobooks

The library is an obvious one, but they offer so many options and formats to read or listen to free books. Even if they don’t have the book you want in stock, they will often transfer it from a different library or buy a copy for their own shelves if you request it.

Now that I’m traveling full-time and can’t borrow books from a physical library, I use the Overdrive app to download books to my Kindle. You have 21 days to read the book, but here’s a secret if you won’t finish it in time. Just turn on your Kindle’s airplane mode to keep the book from disappearing. Then you can finish it at your own pace!

Hoopla is a similar app to Overdrive, where you have 5 Instant Borrows a month to use in their vast catalog (which extends beyond your library’s stock!) and 5 Flex Borrows you can redeem for books your library has immediately available. For books available via Instant Borrow, you don’t have a wait time either!

Kindle book and notes

8. Follow Your Favorite Authors 


Last but not least, make sure you’re following your favorite authors on the social media channel you use most or by signing up for their mailing list. Authors let their readers know exactly when books are FREE for a limited time, but you have to be following them to find out!

NOTE: If you want to take advantage of these FREE eBooks and don’t have an eReading device, you can always download this free app, which lets you read Kindle ebooks right on your PC, tablet, or smartphone right away.

So Do I Ever Buy Books?

Of course! Just not as often as I used to.

I keep an eye out for Kindle deals and scour bargain bookstores during our travels. I also love to preorder books to help out other authors (preorders count as the first week of book sales, so they really do make a difference!).

I’m also more likely to purchase non-fiction books over fiction novels. I get more out of a book when I interact with it—sticky flags, notes, highlighter, etc. The only way I’ll purchase a fiction novel is if it’s deeply discounted so if I don’t like it, I don’t mind passing it on to Goodwill.

But like I said before, I enjoy keeping quality books on hand over quantity. Hence, my Bookstagram name, The Uncluttered Bookshelf. 😉

I hope you enjoyed these new-to-you options so the next time you want to find a new book to read, you can do it for free!

Where do you find FREE books?

I’d love to hear all about your favorite sites and ideas. I know there are some I probably missed!

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Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. Read my full disclosure policy here.

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  1. I’ve been a member of Paperbackswap.com for over 10 years, and have received almost 300 books for “free.” To get those books, however, I have to earn credits – which I do by “uncluttering” my own bookshelves and posting them for others to request. I do have to pay the postage (use “media mail” for the cheapest rates) to send a book to another member, so in essence you ARE paying to read books through this site, but it basically boils down to about $3 each. It’s not just paperbacks either – hardcover and audio CDs are available too, as well as large print

  2. I go to http://www.ebookdaily.com Everyday you get a list of free ebooks, When you sign up you choose which books you would like in different categories, eg: Nonfiction, Self Help, Religion and Spirituality, Health and Fitness, Biographies, Mysteries, and more! I have been a member on this site for a few years now and just love it. It is free to join which fits my frugal budget.

  3. Hi! I wanted to reach out to you and suggest another website! Definitely check out owleyes.org – we’re a free e-library with hundreds of books, expert annotations, and classroom support. We’re browser based, so we work on any device (rather than being an app). Really handy for phone-addicted people like myself – I’m 3/4 of the way through Pride & Prejudice already!

  4. I can’t believe no one has commented this following website; librarything.com !

    The site is like an online library, but on the page, librarything.com/more/freebooks, there are hundreds of paperback books, eBooks, and audiobooks for free, and won in simplegiveaways! There’s no limit to the amount of books you request either.

    Paperback shipping is paid by the seller, and all you have to do in exchange is give a review on Amazon, or anywhere else.

    On the page, there are two headings, one for Early Reviewers and one for Member Giveaways. Early Reviewers is a monthly cycle of giveaways, whereas Member Giveaways is an informal way of members sending out unneeded or unwanted books to those who would like to receive it.

    I can confirm that all the giveaways are real, given that I’ve received multiple paperbacks, and quite a few eBooks. I personally prefer to hold the thick pages in my hand, rather view a book digitally, and I have been shipped books where the authors themselves have signed it and packaged it!
    I even have had a Holocaust survivor sign, and personally write out the mailing address. One author had his own stamp, where his profile picture was an adorable cat!

    Thank you for reading this extremely long comment and I hope you benefit from this!

  5. You can win free books from different authors on Goodreads.com. If you fill out a short questionnaire, they will recommend books to you according to the genres you like. This is the goodreads website to enter contests to win books. https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/113400-will. If you look on the top right side of this page you will see the words All giveaways. Just click on this and it brings you to the contest site.
    Freebooksy.com is another site where you can get free books. They send you an e-mail every day with the books of the day which are free. You must choose your free books the day you receive the e-mail otherwise you will not be able to access these books the following day.

    1. Thanks for the tips, Diane! I’ve seen some of the giveaways on Goodreads but I hadn’t heard about Freebooksy! I’ll have to take a look.

  6. I get almost all my books at garage sales, estate sales, or rummage sales. Prices are from $.25-$’s
    I have found great books, both hard back and paperback books for really cheap prices. ‘
    I have found many history/military/WWII books for my husband, plus fiction/cooking/health books for myself. Have also bought kids’ books for relatives and friends’ children.
    When finished with my books, they go to friends to pass on and on.

  7. This gem drives my life. Because, BOOKS!!!!!!!!
    BEST SITE EVER! Look up your book. Click on book (If they have it). Read book. (Drown in emotions and contemplate your life. Look up the book on Goodreads. Stalk author’s blog. Eat, Sleep, Repeat. For Life.)

    No down loading, signups, or anything. Just… BOOKS!!!!!

    Happiness and simplicity.

  8. You can get free or cheap books (as low as $.50-1.00) through certain libraries, mostly donated books or books out of circulation in excellent quality.

  9. We’re getting ready to do a used book fundraiser to rescue the babies. Does anyone know where I can get some books donated?

  10. For really cheap books, try alibris.com. They have about a kajillion books for $.99! For the last few years, I haven’t managed to spend more on books than the shipping has cost. You can also find really expensive books, but their prices are the best I’ve seen. They also have music and movies. Can’t wait to work my way through your list!

  11. Oh also there’s Netgalley – http://www.netgalley.com which is free digital advanced reader’s copies as long as you provide an honest review on your blog and/or other review site. You have to be approved by the publisher, but as long as you’re an honest reviewer then you will more than likely be approved.

  12. Thanks for the great list! I’m actually surprised I haven’t heard of a lot of these because I’m a big reader too. Mostly I use my library which is part of a large network that can transfer books from other libraries, their online digital lending library, and Amazon Prime’s borrowing feature. I mostly only buy books I’ve already read and loved, and for those I usually buy them on eBay.

    I’ll definitely check out those other sources. Thanks again!

  13. Great tips! Although paperback books no longer apply to me (I’m a full-time ebook reader), getting free digital books is one of my favorite pastimes. I also recommend ebooks.com to those who want to read more popular and renowned titles that are not offered free. For instance, you can’t really get New York Times Bestsellers without paying a sum. Ebooks.com offers 10% off on popular books. Also, Amazon has a bunch of classics that you can download for free into your Kindle.

  14. Just found your blog! It’s so great – I just started living on my own (with a new career) and am definitely looking for some creative ways to save as well as some tips. I’m guilty of spending too much money on paperback books, because I just love the feeling in my hands and the ability to flip through to whatever chapter I want. That being said, I have started to try and read some books on my iPad and it hasn’t been that horrible. It seems like it’s easier to get better deals on eBooks, so perhaps I’ll keep trying!

    xo Julianne

    1. It’s true, there does seem to be more deals on eBooks than paperbacks. I thought making the switch would be horrible too, but have actually grown to love digital books!

  15. I’ve recently discovered openlibrary.org, which is similar in concept to Project Gutenberg. It’s completely free and visitors can access about a jillion ebooks (excuse the incredibly mathematical term). Anybody can add books to the site and contribute descriptive information. I’ve found everything from obscure, out-of-print titles to Henry and Mudge books and Sue Grafton titles.

  16. Most public library systems have Ebooks and audio books that you can download from home! It’s usually through Overdrive, which you can use on any tablet, phone, or through a Kindle. Many libraries allow you to request purchases, too, so even if they don’t have what you want, there’s a good chance that they will get it! I pretty much read exclusively from the library without ever having to go or pay a late fee.

  17. I love this! I have a blog and I just wrote a post that said I wanted to read some new books and I’d post reviews! This is beyond perfect for me, thank you!

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