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eBooks: Free eBooks

Introduction

Some websites provide free access to eBooks.  You should use these with caution:

  • check the publication date - is the book up-to-date?  Sometimes publishers provide free access to old editions of books.
  • who wrote the book (and why did they write it)? Freely available books are sometimes written to promote a cause, and might not contain a balanced argument.
  • is it accurate? A book published independently (rather than via commercial publisher) might not be fact-checked.

Some of the main sources of free eBooks are listed below.

Google Books

Google has a large database of electronic books.  For modern books, it often only provides specific pages (rather than the whole book), but these digitized pages are often useful for research.

Google Book Search

Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB)

The Directory of Open Access Books gives access to over 1,000 full text academic books.  These books are peer-reviewed.

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenburg is the largest collection of free electronic books online, containing academic and non-academic material.  A large number of these are transcriptions of older books, others have been written more recently for distribution online.  Project Gutenburg does not guarantee the accuracy of the transcriptions.  You will need to carefully consider the scholarly content of books you find on Project Gutenburg before using them in course work.

HathiTrust Digital Library

The HathiTrust Digital Library is a project that is digitizing books owned by research institutions and libraries.  Around 30% of the 10 million HathiTrust books are fully available online. These tend to be older books, so might not be suitable if you are researching a contemporary topic.

Internet Archive

The Internet Archive is another provider of free electronic books.  It includes fiction and non-fiction, but again these tend to be older books.