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How to find the best free UK Kindle books

Kat Orphanides
8 Jul 2016
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Looking for a great read that won't cost a penny? We show you where to find the best free UK Kindle books

Ebook readers fulfill every bookworm's dream of being able to carry an entire library around with them, but they can also save you a great deal of money. A wealth of books is available for free online, ranging from modern releases by up-and-coming authors to well-loved classics that have entered the public domain. I'll show you the best places to download a lifetime's worth of the best free literature on the web.

On Amazon UK

The easiest way to get free Kindle books is via Amazon UK's own selection of free titles, which can be automatically sent to your Kindle at the touch of a button. While Amazon maintains a Top 100 chart of free titles, it can be difficult to sift through the vast number of free Kindle books available across the site to identify the good stuff, or even find all the free titles that are on offer.

The easiest approach to general free book browsing on Amazon is to select your genre of choice in the Kindle Books store and then sort it by Price: Low to High to put the free books at the top of the list, as I've done here with the crime section. You can further refine your options using selection boxes on the right-hand bar, allowing you to filter the results by theme, character type, setting and more.

If you want a more sophisticated solution to make sure you see only free books, Jungle-Search for the UK Kindle Store is a third-party search tool that lets you specify a fixed price range with a maximum price of £0.00 and spits out an Amazon search link that meets your criteria. Here's a direct link to all the free books in the UK Kindle store.

Amazon UK's Classics category is particularly handy if you want to catch up on all the books you really ought to have read, but never quite got round to, from an English translation of Hugo's Les Miserables to Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and Baum's entire Oz series.

Escape from the Amazon

Some of the best free ebooks around can be found away from Amazon's own website. Amazon's AZW and KF8 book formats are based on Mobipocket (MOBI or PRC), so your Kindle will happily display any MOBI books you can get hold of.

All Kindles have limited support for TXT and PDF files, but can't always properly reflow and correctly format text in these formats, so I recommend avoiding them. The latest models support a handful of other image and document formats, including HTML and DOC files, through a conversions process. However, for the sake of convenience and correct formatting, I strongly recommend sticking to MOBI where possible.

Once you've acquired a third-party ebook in a supported format, you can simply email it to your Kindle's dedicated address or copy it directly to the eReader's internal storage.

Project Gutenberg

The original online project to digitise and preserve classic works of literature that have fallen into the public domain, Project Gutenberg is home to over 50,000 free ebooks, all available in Kindle format. With so much choice, it can be hard to narrow down what you want to read just by browsing, although the project's clearly categorised Bookshelf makes it easier to find choice works in the collection.

By its nature, Project Gutenberg mostly collects older books and magazines, so it's a great place to catch up on the classics. Its Top 100 list is routinely occupied by titles such as Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities and the Complete Works of Shakespeare.

If you're after something in a more specific genre, Gutenberg's collection of detective and mystery fiction includes works by Agatha Christie, G.K. Chesterton and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. You'll also find classic magazines such as The Strand, the first place to publish Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories.

Meanwhile, fans of science fiction and horror can entertain themselves with the works of H.G. Wells, E.E. 'Doc' Smith, whose Lensman novels inspired Star Wars, and Edgar Allan Poe.

The Internet Archive

Much, but sadly not all, of the Internet Archive's eBooks and Texts collection is now available in Kindle format. Although somewhat chaotically organised, it's got by far the broadest selection of non-fiction works available online, including educational materials from major universities and national archives, NASA technical documents and collections of old hardware service manuals.

If all that sounds a bit dry, you'll be pleased to know that it also includes plenty of books better suited to recreational reading. Our favourite sections are its American literature collection and a fine collection of histories and accounts of the First World War.

DigiLibraries

If many free book sites are hard to sort through, that's certainly not the case with DigiLibraries. All the books listed are free, all of them are Kindle compatible and they're easy to search or just sort by genre in an attractive interface.

Highlights include an espionage and intrigue section featuring Joh Buchan's The Thirty-Nine Steps, a rich collection of folklore, as well as history and philosophy books spanning the world from Ancient Rome to 20th century England.