Free Legal Reading Platforms

Piracy is a real problem in the eBook world. This affects all authors but it gravely affects independent authors.

It baffles me how people can stand up and fight for social justice. And in the same breath say it’s ok to steal. Because downloading a book online, unless from an approve website, is stealing.

What bothers me are the excuses that people use to justify this action. Let’s be 100% clear, there are no valid justifications. You are stealing.

Let’s take a problematic author, JK Rowling. While I love the world she gave us, her transphobic views are a disgrace. She is also one of the richest people in the world. Does she need the money? No. Is it ok to download one of her books illegally because she’s problematic and rich? Also no.

Here’s what a lot of the younger generation do not understand. She’s one person out of a large team. While you may think you’re giving her the finger, what you’re actually doing is hurting those around her. The people that work their backs off and do need their job to support themselves and their family.

But let’s move on to Indy Authors. They are the ones that truly have been severely affected by piracy. When you download a book from an Indy Author, you are taking 100% of that income away from them. These are people that chose the route of independently publishing and they do it all. They format, the pay for editing, and for book covers. There’s no PR firm, they promo their own books. All that work for someone to download it for free.

How would you feel if that happened to you? Would you work for free and have a life (or several) to maintain?

So I thought I’d make a list of ways you can get free books legally. I’ve done this before but hey it can’t hurt to do it again:

1. Apply to be part of an ARC team. ARC stands for Advance Readers Copy. Which means authors and publishers are always looking for fans of specific genres or author to review books prior to publishing. This is a super important job. You get to help create hype for them. These books are generally sent as an eBook for free. All you have to do is write a review.

Where to find ARC teams? Follow authors social media, they always put out a call. Especially on Facebook. I know Facebook, gross! But seriously, a lot of authors live on that platform. You can also professionally reach out via email. This shows you’re serious and took time to write an actual email. Not a half worded DM with emojis and LOLs. First impression is for you to wow them.

2. NetGalley. This is the mecca for ARCs direct from publishers. For the most part you have to work your way up to get the big titles. But once you do it’s such an awesome brag and accomplishment. The publishers and authors want to make sure you are someone that can give an honest spoiler free review and follow guidelines on where to review.

3. Your local Library. Gasp! They exist during a pandemic? They do! While a lot of libraries are closed for patrons, you can still apply for a library card and make arrangements to do curb side pick-up for books.

As much as it pains me to admit, my sister just applied for her library card and was able to pick it up yesterday. And she lives in the mountains. So yes, you too can do it.

Pro-tip: If your library doesn’t have the book you are looking for, you can request it Will they get it if you do? Maybe, maybe not. However, libraries can cross borrow from each other for you. Its called an Interlibrary Loan.

4. Libby, OverDrive, any library app, oh my! Did you know there are apps that let you borrow eBooks and Audiobooks from your library? There are! Libby is my favorite library app and its LIT! I think I spend more time on Libby than any other app.

Reason why my sister applied for a library card? To use the Libby app. I introduced her to both Audiobooks and Libby and now she’s hooked. Yay! I’m going to turn her into a reader even if it kills me.

BTW, Audiobooks are a valid form of reading. I won’t stand or tolerate any other opinion. Thank you very much.

5. Amazon. Have a smartphone? Or tablet? I got you:

  • Step 1. Download the Kindle app. No it doesn’t matter what kind of phone/tablet you have. There’s a Kindle app for it.
  • Step 2. If you don’t have one, create an account. If you do, log-in.
  • Step 3. Search “Free Books”. And viola! Free Books appear. I know, so simple.

If you have Amazon Prime, two awesome features all bookies need to know:

  • Prime Reading: Prime members can borrow from thousands of selected books, magazines, comics. I’ve used this feature and found books I’ve been dying to read. So I did.
  • First Reads: Every month Amazon has a selection of about 5 pre-released books. And you get to choose one for you. These are books not released yet. And oddly enough, not a lot of people know about it. So if you’re a Prime and a bookie take advantage of this.

Still in the Amazon world, you have Kindle Unlimited. For $10 a month you could read thousands and thousands of books. I don’t know about you but a trip to Starbucks is double that at times.

6. Giveaways. Remembered how I said, follow your favorite authors on social media? That’s because authors LOVE to do giveaways.

BookTok and Bookstagram are busting with giveaways. So many, I can’t keep up. See a giveaway? Enter. You just never know.

7. Facebook Groups. I know-I know, I’m sorry but book Facebooks groups are *chef’s kiss* for freebies.

What type of Facebook Groups should you follow?

  • Your favorite Authors. I can’t tell you how important interacting with your author is on a personal level. A lot of people have been asked to be part of ARC teams purely on interaction. Plus, not only do they share sneak peaks, the amount of Facebook only giveaways are insane .
  • Book Signing Events. I help manage the TNTNYC Attendees Facebook group. And there are always authors announcing giveaways. And a lot of other event groups are just the same. Think about it, there are hundred of book signings all over the US and the world. In this COVID world we are currently living in, they have all turned virtual. And guess what’s been happening? Yup! Giveaway bonanzas!
  • Book PR: Here are some of my favs Elle Woods PR Romance Room and Candy Kane’s Party Spot. They host a lot of release day parties. Which means a lot of authors show up and give things away.
  • Book Bloggers/Reviewees: Virginia’s Basement, and I Am A Book Hoarder are a few of my favorites. But the site is filled with amazing and positive book fam.

Ok, I think I’ve given you a wide variety of options. This was my long winded way of saying, you don’t need to pirate. Because authors and publishers alike have given you options to access books free of charge.

We understand that poverty is a huge issue in this country. Especially in this particular year. But that doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice your integrity to read.

You now have some tools to help you on your way. Go forward my people and read on!

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