The internet is a treasure trove of free content, and that includes all kinds of books. Maybe you’re a bookworm figuring out where to get your next read, or maybe you’re looking for something to keep you entertained while you’re stuck at home. As COVID-19 continues to change our daily lives, find some comfort in a new book. 

Santa Cruz Public Library

If you have a Santa Cruz Public Library card, you can get access to ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, newspapers, music and even TV shows and movies. Its website has instructions for linking your library card to digital libraries and streaming platforms.

Google eBookstore

Google’s virtual bookstore has a surprisingly large collection of free books, including classics like “War and Peace” and “Little Women.” Sign in with your Google account and books can be saved to your library and read on any device. If you exhaust the free collection, there are also lots of reads under $5. Other services like Apple Books and Amazon Kindle are also offering extended free book collections at this time.

Internet Archive

If you’re looking for rare books, try the Internet Archive. This digital library has out-of-print books in a range of languages and formats, so you can find historical and academic books. The Internet Archive partners with public libraries across the country, so in the American Libraries collection you can look at the American Revolutionary War manuscripts from the Boston Public Library or the 1912 art catalog from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. One of the archives, Prelinger Archives, was founded by UC Santa Cruz professor Rick Prelinger to house 60,000 ephemeral films, including corporate-sponsored films, amateur and home movies and educational ones. 


A special project under the Internet Archive is LibriVox, a free audiobook collection. Volunteers from around the world record readings of public domain texts, including books, poetry and plays. If you want listening suggestions, their blog features a monthly top 10 list.


With most public libraries closed, it’s difficult to find hard copy books right now. But if you’re looking for books that are super cheap (like $4 or $5) and can be sent to your doorstep, then check out Thriftbooks. Genres range from mystery and suspense to science fiction and fantasy. If you join the Reading Rewards program and build up points, you can even get books for free.

If this list isn’t enough for you, check out Project Gutenberg, ManyBooks, Feedbooks and the International Children’s Digital Library.