Mac, iOS: 12+ ways to get millions of free books online

c/o Rocco/Flickr

Thousands of new books and movies recently entered the public domain, but where can you find these glorious things?

Here’s a collection of places to go to find some of the world’s rich book heritage for your iPhone, iPad and Mac.

Public domain day

Thousands of titles first published in 1923 entered the public domain on January 1 2019.

This was a particularly rich haul of items due to recent changes in copyright law that slowed down the process since 1998, when the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act became law in the U.S., which has chilled availability of new old titles.

What does this mean?

It means works by huge names such as Virginia Wolf ,Agatha Christie, Robert Frost, Aldous Huxley, and many of the greatest writers of the last century are now available, along with a veritable fusillade of text books, biographies and so much more.

You can even download the still incredibly important book by Bertrand and Dora Russell, Prospect of Industrial Civilization.

Where can I download free books?

Here is a short list of locations where you may be able to find the book title you are looking for – not all of these let you download books, but let you read them:

Authorama

Authorama features free books from a variety of different authors, collected here for you to read online or offline.

eBooks and texts archive

From the Internet Archives, eBooks and texts has over 15 million items for download, including a collection of half a million eBooks you can borrow once you set up an account. You should find books for almost everything here.

Free eBooks 

You’ll find a big selection of books across multiple topics here. You’ll need an account and can then read all these titles online and download up to five of them per month in PDF/TXT formats. You can pay for more access.

HathiTrust

A global partnership of major research institutions and libraries working to ensure that the cultural record is preserved and accessible, this group lets you read books online and gather together collections there.

International Children’s Digital Library

The ICDL Foundation’s goal is to build a collection of books that represents outstanding historical and contemporary books from throughout the world.  It’s particularly useful for kids far from home who can read titles they can’t find in their new location. You can’t download these titles but can read them online.

LibriVox.org

This volunteer-led project creates and distributes free audiobooks of public domain classics. You can listen to these online, download or subscribe to titles.

ManyBooks.net

This site provides a huge library of titles many of which it enables you to download for free. You’ll find classics and creative commons titles and can download them in multiple formats once you create an account.

The Open Library

Another Internet Archive project, members can sign in to read and (sometimes) borrow and download hundreds of thousands of titles – you can even embed titles into your site, like so:

<iframe width=”165″ frameBorder=”0″ height=”400″ src=”https://openlibrary.org/books/OL7525257M/Elric_of_Melnibone_(Elric)/widget”></iframe>

Project Gutenberg

This fantastic site is a rich resource for titles with over 58,000 books available for free download in multiple formats, including Apple Books friendly ePub. It’s a fantastic resource that doesn’t even need you to create an account.

Questia

Along with its huge collection of resources for academic research, the Questia library provides around 5,000 titles you can access online.

ReadPrint.com

This free service lets you read a huge collection of public domain books online, though if you want to download or own these titles it sends you to Amazon.

World Public Library

For $8.95 a year you’ll gain access to over a million books in multiple languages that you can download to your device.

Here are three more locations you may want to take a look at:

Finally, don’t forget that Harold Lloyd movie, Safety Last!, and Cecil B DeMille’s 10 Commandments also entered public domain this year. You can get them as linked.

Where to find more information

Take a look at this post from the Center for the Study of the Public Domain – and if you come across any other great locations, don’t keep them to yourself – share them with the rest of us right here 🙂

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Jonny Evans

Watching Apple since 1999. I don't say what they should do. I say what they might do. They sometimes do.

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