Finding Cheap or Free Ebooks on the Road

Before leaving Atlanta, one of my concerns was figuring out how to find cheap or free ebooks on the road. At the house, I had four tall bookcases full of books. One was almost entirely cookbooks. I sold some and gave away most of them.

I love books. I’ve been a reader since I learned how. Summers we would go to the library, and I’d come out with an armload of books that I would devour before our next visit. As an adult, reading isn’t that easy sometimes. Prime reading time used to be before bed and sometimes your eyes are too tired to get in more than a couple of pages. It makes for slow going.

But now, out on the road, I’m reading all the time. In an RV, that means ebooks, at least for me. I don’t have to worry about books taking up space. And I can get a new one at any time as long as I have an internet connection.


My favorite ebook feature is being able to look up words on the fly. When reading a physical book, I’m too lazy to pull out a dictionary or even look up words on my phone. On an ebook device, I’ll look up words I know to get precise meanings or etymology or to find out the pronunciation.

Ebook Devices

For a long time, I read books on my iPad. And that was okay. But I had the full-sized iPad, and it was a little clunky. But the biggest downside was trying to read it outside. It’s hard to see in the sunlight. The newer retina display iPads might be better, but even if I upgrade to one, I will continue reading on my Kindle. I’d love to hear about your experiences reading on the newer iPads.

I switched to a Kindle Paperwhite a couple of years ago, and I love it. The text seems crisper, sunlight isn’t a problem, and the backlight makes it easy to read at night. Plus it’s much cheaper than an iPad, so I’m less worried about someone stealing it. The downside is that if the book you’re reading has pictures, they won’t be as nice.

finding cheap or free ebooks while traveling

Finding Cheap or Free Ebooks

Library

Shortly before we left Atlanta, my library card expired. I renewed it, and now I have two more years before I have to go to the library in person. I’d been using my account to check out ebooks for a couple of years. My library uses Overdrive to lend ebooks.

The library’s ebook selection isn’t spectacular, and the wait is long for anything popular. Once we get to South Dakota, I’ll look into getting a library card there as well. It sounds like it might be difficult proving physical residency. Many library systems allow you to pay a  yearly fee for a library card. It may or may not be worth it to do that depending on their ebook selection and the cost.

Kindle Unlimited

At the end of November, I started a free trial of Kindle Unlimited. It kept me busy with books all month, so I let it roll over to the paid plan at $9.99 per month. I’ll keep it as long as I feel like I’m reading $10 worth of books per month using it.


Book Bundles

StoryBundle

StoryBundle features curated collections from indie authors. It’s a pay-what-you-want model and gives you control over how much the author gets and a portion of the proceeds go to related charities. I have made some author discoveries through StoryBundle.

HumbleBundle

HumbleBundle is mostly known for games, but they do also offer book bundles. I just signed up, so I’ve yet to buy one from them. Their current book bundle as of this publication is a collection of astronomy books.

BookBub

Every once in a while, I’ve found cheap or free ebooks at amazon.com. An author will offer their book for free for a limited time, or I’ll see a deal posted on Goodreads (I’m abracapocus there) or a blog I follow. BookBub keeps track of those sales and allows you to sign up for alerts based on genre preferences and authors. I just signed up and via the site found three books that I downloaded immediately. I don’t know yet if they do anything annoying with your information, but I guess I’ll find out.

Standard Ebooks

Where Project Gutenberg makes digital books available to the widest audience, Standard Ebooks takes the process a step further. The service “formats and typesets them using a carefully designed and professional-grade style guide, lightly modernizes them, fully proofreads and corrects them, and then builds them to take advantage of state-of-the-art ereader and browser technology.” If you enjoy classics, Standard Ebooks should be on your radar.

r/FreeEbooks

There’s a subreddit dedicated to free legal ebooks. How did I miss that before? Each post is marked with a genre which you can sort by if you like.

Fellow traveling bookworms, how do you keep yourself in reading material on the road? Do you have any tips on where to find cheap or free ebooks? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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Laura Nunemaker

About the Author

Laura Nunemaker

vegan. digital nomad. cycling. scuba. intj. former vegan bakery owner.

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  • Emily says:

    Psssst. If you want to add another library to your Overdrive arsenal, you can get online at the Chicago Public Library and sign up for an e-borrowing account with any Chicago address.

    Not kidding.

    Drop a pin on a map of Chicago, pick a pizza joint, anything — as long as it’s got a Chicago zip code (the ‘burbs won’t work).

    It’s good for ebooks only, and I think it requires a renewal every 2 years. If my “home” library doesn’t have what I want, CPL often does. It’s great!

  • Bonnie says:

    Check out the Philadelphia Free Library ebook/Overdrive. Out-of-state ($60? I think) is considerably cheaper than Amazon Unlimited and their selection is excellent. They’ve been around since before Kindles!

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