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Not all free indie eBooks websites are created equal. In fact, the level of disparity when it comes to quality of free indie eBook sites is vast. In fact, if I am being entirely honest, there are not a great deal of awesome free indie eBook sites to choose from. A remarkable majority of them tend to be poorly designed, clumsy, difficult to browse, and not user friendly. Experience is not something that these sites tend to consider as often as they should.
For avid eBook readers like you and me, this is rather unfortunate. I must have wasted countless wasted hours of my life (AKA time I could have spent reading!) trying to find a halfway decent free indie eBook site. Sadly, I have always struggled to find the right one. They always tend to be missing something – or, in an overwhelming number of cases, they are missing a great deal of things, missing the mark by quite a bit. What is it, though, that I look for in my quest to find the best free indie eBook site of 2020? The best free indie eBook site would have to have each and every one of the following traits…
A huge free indie library of (quality) eBook titles from diverse perspectives – Arguably the most important trait of any free indie eBook site, you need a robust library of free indie titles to browse. Perhaps this goes without saying, but it certainly needs to be listed if we are going to be considering every important quality involved in finding the best free indie eBook site. Your eBook site of choice should not only provide many free indie books, though, it should also provide a diverse range of types of free indie books, too.
So, along with quantity, we must also discuss diversity. The two go hand in hand, I think. The more free indie books that a site has to offer, the more likely the site will have a broader range of genres, voices, authors, and offerings. Although, obviously, this is not always the case. Some sites specialize in just, say, textbooks and still have tons of free indie eBooks to browse.
Which is why I always look at the range of genres and representations on an eBook site – I want to, ideally, find a site that will cater to my every whim, train of thought, developing interest, and curiosity. I don’t want a free indie eBook site that is homogenous or too culturally myopic either. My favorite free indie eBook sites not only offer a diverse range of genres, but also a diverse range of voices. I want to be able to find books written by individuals of every walk of life (not just old white men, as the canonic literary trope has historically privileged).
Versatility also matters when it comes to file types – Another thing that I look for in a free indie eBook site is a wide range of downloadable file types. I have seen far too many sites that only allow users to download books in PDF format. This is not okay … at least not in 2020. If I am going to be downloading a free indie eBook, I need to be able to access that book on as many devices as possible, not just my laptop with Adobe installed onto it. As far as I am concerned, an eBook site must make available every popular file type. I’m looking for ePub, HTML, Mobi, and PDF as well. I need options so that I can be sure that I will never have to go without my book.
Furthermore, I always appreciate it when a site offers a decent online reader. This is something that web developers, I think, have yet to totally master, creating an intuitive and enjoyable online reading experience. But, of course, some sites come closer to this than others. And some don’t offer an online reader of any sort. The best eBook sites will certainly have a decent online reader.
Intuitive and easy browsing and organizing – Another common pitfall that I see many free indie eBook sites falling into concerns a lack of browsing options. The best free indie eBook site needs an intuitive means of browsing their thousands of books. Not only should I be able to browse by genre, but I also want to be able to filter by other parameters as well, such as book length, release date, subgenre, themes, etc.
Furthermore, I want a site that allows me to easily keep track of and organize my books. The free indie eBook site for me will offer the digital equivalent of a meticulously sorted library. I want to be able to sort my downloaded books how I see fit, track the books that I hope to read in the future (a to-read list), and rate and review books upon completion. Honestly, the dream platform for me would be a sort of hybrid of the app Good Reads and an eBook marketplace.
Is Free eBooks the best free indie eBook site of 2020? – Having established my own personal criteria for what I look for in an eBook site, where does that leave the site that we will be evaluating today, Free-ebooks.net? Does this site have everything that it takes to be crowned the best free indie eBook site of the year? Well, let’s dive in and take a look, shall we?
First of all, at a glance, Free eBooks did catch my eye much more effectively than many other free indie eBook sites that I have seen. It looks fairly sleek and professional – a site that I could see myself coming back to time and time again. However, I should also note that the bar is set exceptionally low already when it comes to eBook site design. These sites are not particularly known for responsive, intuitive, user-friendly site design, in other words. I am pretty impressed by Free eBooks, though.
Home page – When you first land on the site’s home page, you will be greeted by a site menu bar that responds to your placement on the page as you scroll down – at the top of the page, you’ll find every option available; as you scroll down, the menu is consolidated to just browsing essential categories (browse by genre dropdown) and the search bar jumps up to replace the now missing menu items. This is great – I love it when a site anticipates what the user will most likely require based on their current placement on the site. That is the sort of experiential design that is commonly missing from sites like this one.
Keep scrolling down the home page and you will find a massive list that lets you browse by category. Separated by type of book (fiction, nonfiction, textbook, classics, academic, etc.) with every possible subgenre listed under each type, this is an effective portal to just about everything that can be found on the site. This is not a bad way to browse this extensive library whatsoever.
Even further down the page still, you’ll find some very neatly organized featured free indie eBooks. Browse here by Best Books: Overall, Great Book Lists, Latest Arrivals, Latest Audiobooks, Latest from Our Blog [the site’s blog, that is]. Another nice touch: hover your cursor over a book and a little info box materializes over top that allows you to learn more about it without having to enter a whole new page. This could be one of the best-designed free indie eBook sites I have reviewed yet.
Content and Features
Free eBooks also excels when it comes to the number of features and content types that it offers. Instead of bogging you down by hiding all of Free eBooks’ great features in prose, I think it may be more effective for me to list them for you below:
-Tons of free indie eBooks
-Fiction, nonfiction, textbooks, academic books
-Indie and major books available
-Regularly updated (and high quality) blog
-Tons of free indie audiobooks available
-Instantly translate any eBook into Spanish or Portuguese
-Books available in all major file types
-Publish your own free indie books with ease
Mobile and Desktop Experience
Free eBooks looks like it is excelling in every category. This doesn’t change when we look at the mobile version of the site. With excellent mobile optimization, Free eBooks is the perfect site for anyone who likes to read on the go, allowing you to easily and quickly download and read eBooks on your iOS or Android device.
Pricing and Plans
Although users can download unlimited eBooks in TXT or PDF format for free, there are limitations on how many free ePub or Kindle eBooks you can download per month. New users enjoy 5 free books per month, but there are also subscription plans available for unlimited reading as follows:
-Monthly plan: $7.95/month
-Lifetime: $49.95, one-time price