The best thing about having a Kindle is that you can read anywhere, at any time . . . but all of that reading power means you’re going to go through your reading list pretty quickly!
If you’re looking for more things to read on your Kindle, have no fear. Here are all the websites, tools, and tips you need to fill your e-reader with high-quality free content that will keep you reading for hours without breaking the bank.
Most people buy Kindles to read books, so we’ll start here. There are a lot of services that will give you a heads-up on free Kindle books, and you can get this news in a lot of different ways.
For example, Free Kindle Books & Tips, eBook Daily, and Free Kindle Books will send alerts to your inbox with free and heavily discounted Kindle books every day so you can see what’s on sale. I actually discovered one of my favorite books this way; I saw it in an email, it sounded interesting, and I downloaded it for free. Turns out it was absolutely amazing.
One Hundred Free Books provides a similar service, but it can also send you price alerts on specific books, so if you want to find out if one of your favorites is currently free or down to $1, it will let you know.
Want to use Twitter to find free books?
Check out @FreeKindleDaily, @kindlefreebook, @FreeBookDude, @FreeEbooksDaily, @SweetFreeBooks, or @Kindleebooks. With all of these options, you don’t really have an excuse not to snag at least a few free books!
And, of course, there are sites that are just full of free books. Project Gutenberg hosts a number of public-domain works, as does Open Library. Feedbooks has both public-domain books and original works that you can download for free.
For something a little different, check out indie authors at Smashwords.
There are literally dozens of sites that offer a wide range of free e-books, so you may have to do some browsing to find out which best suits your tastes. Let us know your favorites in the comments so we can check them out, too!
One of the best parts of having a lot of books around the house is lending them to people who haven’t read them yet — it’s like having your own personal library. The popularization of e-readers seems like the death knell of the home lending library, but you might be surprised that you can actually borrow Kindle books in a couple of different ways.
One way is through Amazon’s built-in lending and borrowing feature.
In Your Account > Manage Your Content and Devices, you can see a list of all of the Kindle books you’ve purchased. Hit the Actions button for the book you want to lend, and if it’s loanable, you’ll see the Loan this title option. Click it and enter your friend’s email address, and they’ll get the book.. If you don’t see the link, you can’t lend that book.
There are a number of communities that will help you find people to lend and borrow books with. Lendle is a website that has the process down to an art; find your book and request it, and someone will get in touch to lend it to you. You’ll also have to be prepared to lend books out when you get a request, too. BookLending.com is another good place to look.
If you’re a member of Amazon Prime, one of the benefits you might not have known about is the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, which lets you borrow books for free. The list of available is books is really hit-or-miss, but it’s worth checking out.
Possibly the best way to borrow Kindle books is from your local library. Check out the Overdrive Library Locator to see if there’s a library near you that lends e-books. If there is, sign up for a library card (you might even be able to do it online) and start borrowing!
My own local library has a pretty great selection of Kindle books and an active borrowing community; I’m on the waiting list for three titles at the moment, all of which are pretty recent and popular books.
Send to Kindle
Many sites are now offering a Send to Kindle button, which makes it really easy to get a specific article on your Kindle so you can read it later (or read it sooner on a much better screen). Just hit the button, enter your Kindle’s email address, and you’re set to go. The first time you do it, you might need to add an email address (like firstname.lastname@example.org) to your approved email list.
The example below is from Longform.org, but there are other sites out there that have this function built in, too.
Hippocampus magazine, one of my favorite creative non-fiction sites (and a great alternative to one of the most popular podcasts out there, This American Life), also lets readers send articles to their Kindles, though it takes a couple clicks.
Even some academic journals are now providing this capability. This is one published by Cambridge, which is probably the largest journal publisher that’s enabled this functionality:
If you know of other sites that have send-to-Kindle abilities built in, share them in the comments below!
More Articles on Your Kindle
Just because a site doesn’t offer a Send to Kindle button doesn’t mean you can’t get their articles on your e-reader. There are plenty of apps and extensions that will let you send just about anything to your Kindle (this is great for reading longform articles that might strain your eyes on a backlit screen).
Push to Kindle, for example, has a browser extension that lets you send anything you want with a click of a button. Here’s what it looks like when you get an article on your Kindle with this service:
There are no images, so if you’re reading something that has some important visuals, you may want to consider another option. Beyond that, though, everything is perfect, and a lot easier on your eyes!
Klip.me, a similar service, will also send images, though it’ll only send small ones that don’t make the page too large. The text isn’t formatted quite as nicely, but it’s still very readable. Here’s an example of a small author photo sent using Klip:
In addition to extensions like these, there are a few other ways that you can get articles to your Kindle:
P2K (Pocket to Kindle), for example, does just what you’d expect it to: send articles from your Pocket reading list to your Kindle. You can choose daily or weekly updates, and other options include “newest or oldest X articles,” “articles worth X minutes,” and “X random articles” for your sync. Unfortunately, if you’re a free member, it can take many hours for your articles to actually get delivered.
I’m a big fan of RSS, and if you are too, you can also get your RSS feed sent to your Kindle using Calibre, one of the best options for ebook management available.
To start, go to Fetch news > Add a custom news source and use the resulting window to create a new collection of feeds.
You can create as many different collections as you want — it’s a great way to keep your reading list segmented.
Once you’ve done that, click Fetch news, and select your custom news source under Custom. Click Download now to get your RSS feeds downloaded immediately, or set up a schedule for automatic updating.
Now plug in your Kindle, right-click on your news source, and select Send to device > Send to main memory. Just like that, your RSS feeds are on your Kindle!
You might be able to email your feeds as well, but I couldn’t get that to work. It’s possible that the file was too large, as it does include images. Here’s what the table of contents and an article looked like after they were transferred:
Of course, you don’t just have to use these methods just to send articles. You could send whatever you want! A recipe you want to try, someone’s LinkedIn bio, a conference agenda, and pretty much anything else that’s text-based will work, too. If you already thought Kindle was the best thing ever, prepare yourself to never put it down ever again.
Other Kinds of Documents
Want to read other things on your Kindle, like PDFs, Word documents, or other e-book formats?
The best way to do this is to use your Kindle’s email address. (You can find this on your Amazon account by going to Manage Your Content and Devices > Settings > Send-to-Kindle E-Mail Settings.)
Whenever you want to add something from your inbox to your Kindle, just forward it to that email address. Amazon will grab any attachment and do its best to convert it to a Kindle-friendly format. Here’s a draft résumé that was a Word document:
Certain types of documents work better than others; a scanned PDF, for example, doesn’t always come out super clearly (unless you’re using a good OCR app, of course).
Even with the difficulties, it’s certainly worth a shot, especially if people send you large text-based attachments on a regular basis.
IFTTT Recipes for Your Kindle
If This, Then That (IFTTT) doesn’t have a dedicated Kindle channel, but you can use your Kindle’s email address to create some pretty cool recipes that will let you control what gets sent to your Kindle. This recipe converts things in your Dropbox and sends them to your Kindle, for example.
Here’s another that will send any article tagged as “Kindle” in Feedly to your Kindle.
There are plenty of others out there, and if you know how to create IFTTT recipes, I’m sure you can come up with a useful one that fits your reading needs. And if you already use one, let us know in the comments!
Where Do You Get Free Stuff for Your Kindle?
These tips should keep you reading for a long time — the free books would take you years to get through, and that’s not even taking into account the number of articles and other kinds of documents you could be reading. But everyone has their own favorite place to get free Kindle content. What’s yours?
Where do you download free things for your Kindle? Or do you usually stick with paid books from Amazon? Do you strip DRM from books and lend them yourself? Share your thoughts, experiences, and tips below so we can all get more cool stuff!