Monday, December 7, 2015

Do you have a Kindle or use the Kindle app? Get Free Books!




In yesterday's post, I gave you my suggestion for which version of Kindle to purchase.


Here's the link again to Amazon's site:


Kindle Paperwhite


I purchased a Kindle about two years ago and use it regularly.  I enjoy the experience of reading on a Kindle so it is my preferred reading method.  I like the fact that I can read in bed at night without a light.

If you are much of a reader, you know that purchasing books, even eBooks, can really add up quickly.  

I have a few suggestions for saving money on books for the Kindle.  Many of these options are free if you are an Amazon Prime member, but even if you're not, keep reading because I've got free books for you as well.  

Don't have a Kindle?  If you have the Kindle app on your phone or tablet, some of these programs will still work for you.

Here is a list of programs for free Kindle books.  I will describe them all and give you my impressions.
  • Kindle First (works with Kindle and Kindle app)
  • Kindle Owners' Lending Library (works with Kindle only)
  • Kindle Unlimited eBook Subscription (works with Kindle and Kindle app)
  • Borrow books from the library (works with Kindle and Kindle app)
  • Borrow books from friends (works with Kindle only)
  • Out-of-Copyright books

Kindle First (Amazon Prime members)

What is it? 
The editors at Amazon Publishing choose four books from different categories and make them available for free in advance of the books' official release.  This means one free book for you at the beginning of each month, so twelve free books per year.

How it works
If you are an Amazon Prime member, sign up on the Kindle First page and Amazon will send you an email at the beginning of every month inviting you to download a free book. In the email, there will be links to each of the four books offered.  If you are not a Prime member, I believe you can still sign up for the offer, but you will pay $1.99 per book.

My experience
I signed up for this program when I purchased my Kindle two years ago. I have read a wide variety of books for free. I like that different genres are offered so I use these books to stretch my reading zone.  Sometimes I have difficulty choosing between the books because there is just a short synopsis and no reader reviews as these books are offered pre-release.

Bonus Points
You get suggestions of books in your inbox monthly and can try a new genre for free and you get to keep the books forever.

Kindle Owners' Lending Library

What is it?
If you are a Prime member, you can sign up for this program and borrow books at no additional cost.

How it works
Here's a link to Amazon's help page describing the program. Basically, you can borrow up to one book a month for free if you are a Prime member.  There is no due date to worry about but you do need to return a borrowed book before downloading another.  Amazon states there are hundreds of thousands of books to choose from.

My experience
Honestly, I forget sometimes this program is available.  Unlike some of the other programs mentioned in this article, the best way to find these books is directly through your Kindle, which is not how I often shop for books.  Earlier in the year, I read a great dystopian series that I never would have seen if I wasn't browsing for free books.  I also borrowed another one for several months and never did get through it but it still cost me nothing as there is no time limit for borrowing books.  You just have to return one before borrowing another and only one per month.

Bonus Points
You can find these books directly from your Kindle, no other app needed.  Easy peasy.

Kindle Unlimited eBook Subscription

What is it?
Sign up and you can borrow up to ten books at one time for free.  No time limits either. 

How it works
Sign up for Kindle Unlimited and borrow books for free.  You do not need a Kindle device to use this program, just a phone or tablet that has the Kindle app downloaded onto it.  The cost is $9.99 per month. You can try it free for 30 days.

My Experience
I availed myself of the 30 day free trial and then kept it for a few months.  I was reading a great deal at the time and my $9.99 was getting me about six to ten books a month.  If you read a great deal (multiple books a week), I'd recommend it.  Obviously if you read less than that, your perception of value may be different.  I prefer free books, which is why I ultimately cancelled my subscription, but I still recommend it.

Bonus Points
Next time you are heading out on a vacation, get the 30 day free trial and download ten books for your trip.  You're welcome!  Don't forget to cancel within the 30 days if you don't want to be billed $9.99 a month.

Borrow books from the library

What is it?
Get free books from your local library!

How it works
Check your local library's website and see if they offer an eBook lending program.  They likely do and they probably use OverDrive.  Or just go straight to OverDrive.com and search there.

Then, swing by the library and sign up for a library card.  In most cases they're free.  In some cases you may pay a small fee (like $5).  Usually they are good for at least a couple of years.  Make sure you note your PIN when you sign up as you will need it along with your library card number to use the OverDrive system.

Once you have your card in hand, visit OverDrive.com or better yet, download their free app onto your phone or tablet (or both!) from your app store.  Sign up, start browsing and downloading books.  

My Experience
I have used Overdrive for about two years and I love it.  I have used it with two different library systems and have found that each system has a slightly different library of books available (they update constantly as well).  Also each system controls the amount of time you can keep a book and how many books you can borrow simultaneously.  One library allows two weeks and the other three.  One allows ten books and the other fifteen.

Let me say again, I love this program.  It is not, however, without some drawbacks.  

One, it's a library:  somebody else may have already checked out the book you want.  Like normal libraries, you can place a hold.  When you do this, you will find how far back in the queue you are.  It can take awhile to get really popular books.  I have been waiting for The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up for several months.  

Two, not all titles are in Kindle format:  most are, but some utilize the ePub format, which can be read on OverDrive's built-in reader but not the Kindle. Since getting my Kindle, I no longer enjoy reading on my iPhone or iPad so I usually avoid titles that are non-Kindle readable, but just about any phone or tablet will work. 

Bonus Points
Some titles are available as audio files (similar to Audible)!  I do like listening to books from time to time and if you do too, then this might be a very good thing.  You can listen through the OverDrive app very easily on your mobile device.

Borrow books from friends

What is it?
Borrow books from your friends.  Lend books to your friends.

How it works
Here's a link to Amazon's help page on the subject.  I believe you need to own the book outright and you need your friend's email address that's linked to their Kindle account.  You will also need to access Amazon via a computer, not the Kindle app.

My experience
Sadly, I have none.  I heard about this program a couple of years ago but I've never had the opportunity to try it.  Let me know if you're game and I'll lend you a book.  


Out-of-Copyright books

What is it?
Books published before 1923 are always free.

How it works
Here's a link to Amazon's free book page. Most people already know about these titles, but if you want to read the classics, they're free.  Download to your Kindle the normal way.

My experience
I have downloaded a few titles that are copyright free.  I find my taste for these books comes and goes.  Writing styles have changed greatly over the years and I have to be in the mood.  That being said, they aren't called classics for nothing.  There are some good tales out there.  Try the Sherlock Holmes books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  They rarely disappoint.


Let me know if you use any of these sources for free Kindle books.  Please share your experiences in the comments below.

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Happy Reading!

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