How to Find Free (And Cheap) Books For Your Kindle E-Reader
Budget-Friendly Reading Galore is Just a Couple of Clicks Away!
People have found various interesting ways to fill the long days at home that the pandemic has thrust upon us.
Some have willfully sunk into nightly Netflix-and-wine binges (confession — that was me during weeks one and two).
Others are riding the home fitness trend and girating to aerobics classes delivered over Zoom.
After finishing just about every Netflix series that halfway interested me — and feeling like I could happily go forever without having another Zoom date — I finally dusted off my Kindle e-book reader which has been playing second fiddle to real books in my life more or less since I bought it.
After finally discovering the joy of e-reading, I promptly blew through an Amazon Gift Card (or two) while loading up my device with some great non-fiction (I’m currently engrossed in ‘Broker, Trader, Lawyer, Spy’ — highly recommended if you want to to learn about the shadowy world of private intelligence).
But because … well I guess just for the novelty factor … I also decided to play around with some Amazon searches to see if there were any great deals to be scooped up in the non-fiction department.
Isn’t the whole point of having a Kindle that you can hold a bazillion books in the palm of your hand?
If you’re looking for a bargain Kindle haul, here are some tips to find some great deals — and freebies — on Amazon.
1. Start in the Kindle Store
Clearly, if you’re looking for Kindle freebies, there’s no point starting out looking at paperbacks and hardbacks that don’t have an ebook equivalent. You will find many that do, but it will be an unnecessarily frustrating process.
So, the first thing you’ll want to do on your raid is limit results to the Kindle Store.
You can do that by visiting the Kindle Store link or just running a blank search limited to ‘Kindle Store’ in the main Amazon menu.
2. Pick Your Niche
Next, you will want to select a category of books that interests you by choosing a sub-category from the left sidebar:
I’m a strictly non-fiction kind of guy, so I clicked on that button.
Amazon will likely have designed an attractive landing page for that product subcategory designed to get you interested in top sellers within that niche.
For example, here’s what I dug up in Kindle non-fiction:
Now, most people will assume that you need to navigate further down the Amazon hierarchy — into a sub-sub-category — in order to access a listings page. That’s wrong. A level one subcategory is enough and will call up a list of results. (In fact, there’s nothing stopping you searching through the entire repository of Kindle books; other than the fact that if you filter on price you will encounter a lot of erotic fiction!).
Assuming you’re still interested in searching within a specific category just keep scrolling down:
3. Filter on Price
Eventually, you’ll get to the beginning of the listings section. It will tell you how many items are in the product category (in our case books from the Kindle Store in the Nonfiction category).
If we change the default filter to “Sort by: Price: Low to High” then we will be presented with the entire catalog for that section from free products through to paid offerings.
4. Weed Out the Junk
If you’ve gone through this exercise, here’s what you probably quickly discovered.
Most books that Amazon are selling gratis are that way for a reason.
In other words, there’s an awful lot of junk out there — particularly as just about anybody and his grandmother can self-publish a book through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).
However, amidst a sea of garbage there are droplets of … amazing deals.
Here are a few ways to find them:
1. Look at the “to buy” price in small print
Unless Kindle Unlimited is available in your country (it isn’t in mine) then the price you’ll be paying is the “Or X to buy” price in gray — not the Kindle Unlimited price displayed more prominently above it.
If you’re looking for total freebies (as in products that cost $0.00) then you may have a tough time finding anything of quality at all.
But if you are not that budget-constricted and are willing to be just a little more flexible (say, up to $5) you could scoop up some amazing deals on temporary promotion this way.
2. Know What to Avoid
Because there are so many junk e-books put out onto Amazon, you will need to keep an eye out for certain books that are unlikely to live up to your quality expectations — or those of anybody to be honest. So, keep an eye out for:
- Cookbooks that simply contain recipes copy-and-pasted from Wikipedia (there are several publishers which “specialize” in wheeling these out!)
- Series books: as in “The X Series Book 1”
There are some other criteria that I use:
- Initial list price: As I said, there really are plenty of amazing bargains to be had if you have enough patience to look for them. Take a look at what the book is selling for on paperback. You will occasionally find $20–30 books that are on temporary Kindle promotion.
- Page count: If a book looks good enough to consider reading, I always, always check the page count. This is solely to filter out rubbish Wikipedia copy-and-paste operations that contain just enough pages to surpass KDP’s minimum page count of 24 (these tend to be pure gambits to lure in the gullible!). If you want to find books that really dive deep and provide value, I’d suggest sticking to books in the 100 pages + range.
Beyond that my evaluation process is the same as for any other book I might be interested in:
- Am I interested in the subject matter? This is … kind of vital!
- What do the reviews say? And do they look fake or “too good” to be true? Particularly within the realm of self-publishing — where writers need to vigorously promote their own work and occasionally stoop to all means to do that — one needs to be careful and make sure that the reviews are, in fact, genuine.
- Is the book self-published or has this been published through a reputable publishing house? (I would never discount a book just because it was self-published, but sometimes it is helpful to know — as above!)
It may take a bit (or a lot) of sifting. But if you persevere just a little (and are at least a bit flexible on budget) you can wind up finding some steals.
- The Science of Overcoming Procrastination — a 238 page guide to using scientifically proved methods to break through barriers like inertia and “get things done”. (At the time of writing, and from where I am based, $0.00 Kindle price; print list price $13.99).
Some other finds from a reasonably quick perusal that looked interesting (to me):
A free medical textbook. Recommended retail price (RRP): $41.59
Do you too want to supercharge your business during the downturn? If so, this might be worth leafing through:
There are many, many more examples!