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

MikeachimKindle, Literature, Resources47 Comments

Fevered Mutterings image: Kindle 3, by kodomut - (Flickr)
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)


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. - 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.

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.)

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).

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.



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.


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.



(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…