How To Fill Your Kindle (& Other Gadgets) For Free – *Updated*

Posted by on Apr 16, 2011 in Kindle, Literature, Resources | 46 Comments
Disclaimer: this post is about finding free books for Kindle – legally – of which there are shedloads (seriously, scroll downwards).
It’s not sponsored by Amazon or anyone else. In fact, I was cheeky enough to contact Amazon and say “hey, I wrote this post giving people lots of Kindle-related free stuff and also massively promoting you, *cough *cough*, and I’d love a mention somewhere if you were ever…” – and they wrote back, “On your bike, mate.”
So trust me – Amazon officially has NOTHING to do with this post. Damn them.

Kindle 3, by kodomut (Flickr)

Don’t get me started on how I fell for my Kindle in 7 minutes.

Thing is…as nice as it is tracking down an e-copy of a book you suddenly find you can’t live without, it costs money. This is not the road to enjoying the decadent self-disgust that comes with a Kindle with no memory left to do things anymore. You are not, and you almost certainly never be, so wealthy that buying 1,500 ebooks doesn’t end at least one significant relationship in your life (your spouse, your bank, your therapist, etc.).

Internet culture to the rescue! Here’s a definition of the Internet: a place where things are so free it blows your tiny mind. That certainly holds in my case (“tiny” may be projecting somewhat – so feel free to choose another word). Nary a day goes by without seeing something I can’t quite believe is in the public domain. Legally, I mean. The Internet has become the real-world equivalent of the most famous guide-book arising from the famous intergalactic publishing houses of Ursa Minor Beta. It’s a cultural primer for all aspiring human beings. And there’s porn as well.

Better than the best school ever, I’m sure you’ll agree.

So here’s what I do. I go to the following websites and I use their good, legal services to upload hundreds of years of eyeball-time and listening-hours to my fave gadgets. (The Kindle can play audio, yes, but unless you’re using an Audible-purchased product…well, the mp3 player is, shall-we-say, highly experimental. I skip and go straight to my Android phone for audio playback).

These are the sites I’ve used to find free Kindle books. This is not a definitive list – it’s one I’ll keep updating – and it’s a very subjective one. These are the sites I have used and that I trust.

And yes, I’m after your suggestions. Suggest alternatives. I totally want them.

(click screenshots to go to their websites)

READING

Project Gutenberg - free ebooks online download for iPad, Kindle, Nook, Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, Sony Reader

Earth-mother of all online free book repositories. The Wikipedia of public domain literature. More 30,000 titles, more (many more) every year. All free. Pop goes my little brain. This is the Internet’s very own bookcase, giving it something to relax with after a long day’s becoming sentient and enslaving us all.

ManyBooks.net - Ad-free eBooks for your iPad, smartphone, or eBook reader

Project Gutenberg may be the ultimate online library, but the books? They ugly. We shouldn’t judge books by their covers, but hey, we shouldn’t eat Nutella with a spoon or say stupid things on Twitter. The books on offer at ManyBooks look lovely (with many of their covers obviously owing much to Penguin Classics). And there’s oodles. That’ll do nicely.

Amazon.com

Best kept secret of the Amazon Kindle bookstore? A big chunk of it is free. Not just Gutenberg-style classics with a swanky new ManyBooks-style cover, but also previously commercial thrillers, romances, you name it. Tons, in fact.  (And while we’re at it – don’t have an actual Kindle? No sweat.)

Feedbooks.com

More. *sob* I….I can’t read more. But here’s more, courtesy of Feedbooks. And some of these are only from a few years back. (For example, I remember seeing this in Borders on the 2-for-the-price-of-1 stand).

Klip.me

Hold onto your hat. It’s all about to get very silly. Ever read something online and wished you could print it out and read it at leisure without all that eye-strain? Enter Send To Kindle (and its mobile counterpart, EverRead). It’s a free plugin for most browsers that takes the form of a button on your toolbar. You go to a nice long read (say, at LongReads), you click the button and the app takes all the article text on the page, bundles it into a PDF and e-mails it to your Kindle (or your phone). Blam. One click.

The Internet is now yours to read offline, any time you like. Go nuts.

LISTENING


LibriVox

The astounding thing about LibriVox isn’t that it’s so well-populated or that it’s free – it’s that it’s so good.  “What? Entire books read out by volunteers? Hahahah! Yeah, I bet they’re awesome.”

“What? They are awesome? Oh.”

iTunes Podcasts

Apple? Apple? Do me a lemon, mate. I’d rather try to eat my own face than use an Apple product. Yes I know they’re all brilliant, but….everyone’s got either an iPad or an iPhone. Which means they’re mass-produced rubbish. See? Now leave me alone, I’m trying to install Linux on this Commodore PET.

Sadly for me, I’m a misinformed idiot. I don’t have an iPhone (Android forever, baby) but at TBU I started to see how essential iTunes is to anyone with an Internet connection. In short: podcasts. There’s an incredible amount of quality free listening, all available without shelling out a single penny/cent. As you can see from my Podcast archive above I’m big on the travel-related (check out Amateur Traveler, This Week in Travel and Indie Travel Podcast for my current listen-queue) but whatever cooks your noodle (or noddle) will be catered for. Download them, shift the mp3s onto your preferred on-the-move playback device, and you’re laughing.

Open Culture

Thanks go to Jodi of LegalNomads for pointing me at OpenCulture. What is it? Oh, just some little website that is only attempting to curate links to all quality public domain material from the world’s top Universities, amongst many other things. Maybe worth a quick click, you know?

Actually, let’s cut the crap: this website will ruin your life, for the simple reason that it’s a rabbit-hole of endlessly mind-expanding free stuff and you will get lost down it if you go clicking around. You need someone to enter the room when a predetermined time has elapsed and haul you away from the computer, or to yank the house broadband out the wall.

This is a knowledge-junkee’s wet dream.

Please take this as the genuine warning it is.

Update:

Not using a Kindle? Then stop by Academic Earth and Khan Academy. The former is an online repository of videos of entire academic courses at Stanford, Yale, Harvard and the like. The latter is over 2,000 videos from private (brilliantly talented) educators.

Go watch. Never have two websites held such potential for making you big in the brain.

BROWSING


Kinstant

(via Katja).

The 3G Kindle comes bundled with free Internet access. If this is news to you – yes, you heard correctly, free Internet forever. Browsing, including getting webmail, won’t cost you a penny – and it comes with an experimental web-browser built into it. This is where you go buy one, yes?

Wait up a second. Look at that word “experimental“. It’s not kidding. Many webpages will take an age to load and then fail to display properly. Anything with moving video is a bust. It’s clunky and often painful. What to do? One answer is to use kinstant, a portal website stripped down to a Kindle-friendly interface that curates links to web-pages in a mobile viewing format. And it that’s not enough, there’s a version of Google maps and a calculator. Let’s hope Amazon takes note from these guys while they’re building the Kindle 4…

  • http://katebailward.com/drivinglikeamaniac Katja

    Instapaper’s great – similar to Klip.me, from the looks of it, which I haven’t used, but will be testing out shortly.

    I’ve also just discovered Kinstant and articles mode (in the menu – er – menu when you’re browsing), both of which make reading websites on the Kindle waaaaaaay easier.

    The biggest bombshell, however, is that you shouldn’t eat Nutella with a spoon?? What the hell? My whole belief system has just been turned on its head.

  • Sharon Miro

    This is a pretty cool list. Just one more: A lot of authors are letting their kindle editions go for zero cost for a few days or weeks–just have to keep checking the free list on Amazon as well.

    • Glynis

      One of my daughter´s books, Escape by Marissa Elliott, a romance set in Thailand went free for five days and received thousands and thousands of downloads and ended up
      No. 3 in the Amazon free books.

  • http://jackandjilltravel.com jill- Jack and Jill Travel The World

    Nice list — can’t wait to check out the free reading materials. My Kindle is running a little dry right now, so perfect timing.

  • http://www.judithgreenwood.com/thinkonit/ JudithinUmbria

    I loaded my Kindle in the US with a lot of old books I used to own and lost track of. I expected a long period of doing this, catching up, as it were. Then I arrived in Italy and the damned thing can’t go online. Period.

    • Stephanie

      If you have a version with 3G, Go to your kindle account on amazon and change your country of residence. that may help.

      • http://www.judithgreenwood.com/thinkonit Judith of Umbria

        Everything has changed! After all these years, I finally was able to install and antenna and pull wifi off an antenna on the mountain behind me. Now I have wifi and the Kindle likes it! I downloaded a bunch of ancient texts already… really, I was down to the Confessions of whatsis and just couldn’t quite…

  • http://flashpackerhq.com Travis

    Here are few more academic sites I love:

    Academic Earth: http://academicearth.org/

    Khan Academy: http://www.khanacademy.org/

    Both are huge repositories of easy to understand lectures on a variety of subjects from some of the best educators around.

    -Travis

  • http://www.goseewrite.com/ Michael Hodson

    I am in the process of testing out the Klip feature now, to try to read all my travel blogging stuff on my Kindle, but BEWARE…. I just got an email from Kindle saying they will charge me to upload stuff via that route outside the U.S. Still trying to sort out how to get it done for free (or it doesn’t make any sense):

  • http://www.deliciouschaos.com Nick

    Awesome set of resources. Now I just need a kindle! Damn.

  • Kristin

    You forgot the library. Most have ebooks you can download for free. You can do this with the Nook and the Sony eReader anyway…

  • http://kindle401.com ziad

    Nice list and nice post. Here are a few others that I think were not mentioned:





  • http://www.neverendingvoyage.com Erin

    We have also fallen for our Kindle and have filled it with more free books than we’ll ever get around to reading. I use Instapaper for saving blogs to read later.

    I also like getting the sample chapters for guidebooks. Even if you don’t buy the whole guide there is often loads of useful info in the first chapters for planning your trip.

  • http://budgettravelerssandbox.com Nancie

    Yes, I too am having a love affair with my Kindle. (I knew I was capable of falling in love again….:):)….)

    Thanks for the great list of resources.

  • http://www.cruisesurfingz.com Roy | cruisesurfingz

    Great list! I only knew about Manybooks.net.
    I love my Kindle too, but honestly it’s because of the instant access to the new (ie. paid) releases.

  • http://holeinthedonut.com Barbara Weibel

    Yep! I’m carrying around and reading (not all at the same time, mind you) about 1,000 books on my iPhone, which I downloaded mostly from the Gutenberg Project, but haven’t checked the others to see if they’re offering stuff for my iPhone. I will go to these sites forthwith to see if they do. THANK YOU!! I’ve also found stuff at Stanza, but don’t know if they’re compatible with Kindle.

  • http://indietravelpodcast.com/ Craig

    I think you just added another 5 lives on reading onto my todo list! At least I currently subscribe to all those podcasts, or I might have to slap you! Great resources.

  • http://www.travelswithanineyearold.com Theodora

    http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/ is a site I use a lot for downloading to laptop. I don’t have a Kindle. But it has some obscure stuff.

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  • Suzanne

    A few days ago I found out that kindle books for sale are not always exact copies of the original. The editing may be different and it may have spelling errors. I read this in a review list of a book. And we are paying the same price as a new paperback. I was really, really upset by this so I emailed the publisher and they confirmed this.

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  • Emily

    This is the best thing I have stumbled upon in a VERY LONG TIME! This absolutely made my night thanks for posting it !! ! ! ! !

  • Jessi

    pixelofink.com is my favorite (technically, that probably counts as Amazon, since that’s where all the free books are from.) Pixel of Ink is good for getting updates on new free books, or books that have recently been made free or under 1$. I also like Librarything.com which has a Member’s Giveaway section, I’ve gotten a lot of free ebooks directly from the authors there. Your list is amazing though, I didn’t know about any of these other than Project Gutenberg and Amazon.

  • JustAGirl

    Great list! Another book blog for you to get free and inexpensive books for your Kindle is Bargain eBook Hunter (http://www.bargainebookhunter.com)

    Everything on there is either free or up to $5. I use this site A LOT!

  • http://healthytrim-reviews.com Jeremy

    Thanks for the resources. I have a nook and my mom has a kindle. Nook FTW haha

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  • http://www.ebooks4kindles.com Jenny

    Try http://www.ebooks4kindles.com – another gem with 1000s of free ebooks

  • http://kindlebooksonline.org/ David

    Hi

    If you are looking for free kindle books (ebooks) for download you can get them at http://kindlebooksonline.org/.

    There are loads of new and old kindle books in .mobi format. Fast, free and easy!

    Check it out!

  • Jonathan
  • http://kindlebooksonline.org/ David

    Hey!

    If you are looking for free kindle books you can download them at http://kindlebooksonline.org, there are loads of free kindle books there.

    Kindle Books Online

    Check it out!

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  • http://www.cheapereadersite.com/where-can-i-buy-a-kindle/where-can-i-buy-a-kindle Where can I buy a Kindle

    Where can you buy a Kindle says superb pics and designs incorporating books of all shapes, sizes, colours and eras. Cool!

  • Briana

    I downloaded a ton a free books and thought they had all been successful… But now only one of them is actually on my kindle! What am I doing wrong?!

  • http://www.exceldashboardwidgets.com Jane Franklin

    The best place I have found for good free Kindle ebooks is the Amazon free bestsellers list but also take a look at http://www.books4kindlefree.com

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  • http://www.wanderingnotlost.org Kate Convissor

    My brain is sizzling like bacon in the pan. After reading your “7 Minutes” post, I began lusting after Mr. Kindle. But…all those books I’d have to buy to satisfy him!
    Now, my browser is pointed to the eternal fountain of endless books. Mr Kindle will soon be mine, mine, MINE!
    Seriously, thanks everyone.

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  • Kerri

    Try http://onehundredfreebooks.com/

    Lots of new authors, but most are quality reads they cover all genres.

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  • http://nanowrimo.org/participants/lorenzadoran Evelyne

    Outstanding article, thanks and we want more! Added you to FeedBurner.