Free books. We need them, we want them. How to get them? Well there are a number of websites that have free books, though they tend to be older out of copyright “classics”. Nothing wrong with that. I like to read a few classics each year. There are other websites where people self publish and offer their books for a review and some sites where publishers offer a small number of copies of books, both paper and eBook for review.
LibraryThing was the first one of those that I found. You can catalogue your books, join forums, and submit your user id for a chance to win a free copy of an early release. There are publisher releases and member releases and those are often self-published. You do have to filter the publisher releases by country because they don’t always send copies to non-American members. That often eliminates the best books but what can you do? I’ve found a few gems at the early reviewers section, from the publishers and the self-publishers lists, and a few stinkers, too. I was cataloguing my books until I hit a wall of 200. Apparently, though I didn’t realize it when I joined, LT has a limit of 200 books for free members. As I wasn’t willing to spring for a paid membership, I’ve drifted away from LibraryThing though I do look at the Early Reviewers list now and then.
Now I’m on Goodreads which was bought by Amazon a few years ago, I think. I originally joined a group focused on Canadian authors via a CBC Books which has now been removed from GR but someone from that group then started up another independent group and many of the former members gravitated there. We post what we’re reading on Friday, we have monthly group reads, monthly challenges and a year long Bingo Challenge that regular readers here will have seen me mention (four more squares to go!) I’ve discovered some really talented Canadian authors and writers from other countries too. Our group members read a wide variety of things though we do like to encourage support for Canadian talent. Again, I’ve found some superb gems through investigating what other people recommend.
Goodreads also has giveaways from publishers and authors and I’ve won a handful or two of free books through that aspect of the site. They’ve always been hard copies, paper or hard cover versions that they mail to you in exchange, they hope, for an honest review. For a long time I didn’t win too many but this year, I’ve been quite lucky. Free books! What’s not to like!
I’ve also seen people’s reviews that mention NetGalley ARCs. (Advanced Reader Copy) Today I decided to investigate NetGalley. They primarily aim for professional readers in the industry, or librarians etc but if you have a blog or if you publish your book reviews somewhere like Goodreads or Amazon, you can still join for free. You build a profile and make a list of the types of books you like and go browsing. I thought it was all request submissions but that seems to be mainly for pre-publication books. I found a couple that looked interesting that have been on NetGalley for a little bit and requested them and lo and behold, I now have another free book on an app on my phone with another waiting!
NetGalley is all digital, no hard copies. They will send to Kindle or you can download using Adobe Digital Editions. I did see that the copy of the one I have expires in 55 days. That’s more than enough time to read it but I will have to remember not to leave a book on my “shelf” too long before downloading. Another thing I discovered is that the app they recommend for Android is Aldiko. You can create a login or log in with Facebook or Google+ and it automatically authorizes that device for the DRM locked copy of the book. Digital Rights Management. That locks the eBook to you and your device so you can’t share it or send it to anyone else. Purchased books from Kindle or Kobo have that as well, most of the time. It’s a copyright thing. Occasionally, an author or publisher releases their book DRM-free.
Anyway, I was about to download the book to Aldiko but was also given the choice to download to Overdrive which I also have for borrowing eBooks from the library. Oh, well then, I’ll use that since I like it and am familiar with using it. It worked and opened the book cleanly. I tried to download the second book into Overdrive but it’s a PDF and Overdrive didn’t like that so I had it sent to Kindle which I can read on my phone through the Kindle app.
So there you are. You can request new releases from LibraryThing, Goodreads or Netgalley and the free books you can get are all based on the country where you live as well. It doesn’t mean, for instance, that the only books I will be able to request are those from Canadian publishers, just publishers that also release in Canada. Penguin, for instance, is global.
Of course the ultimate in free books is your local library but that’s a given. Also keep an eye out for a Little Free Library.