How to Access Online eBooks

No Libraries, No Problem: How to Access Online eBooks Without Leaving Your Home

For me there is nothing better than tracing the spine of a well worn book. It is cracked and ridges have formed lengthwise where the owner has pored over its pages. The pages are dog eared, soft, tanned, and smells of warmth. There are bits of scrawling words, receipts, food crumbs, and fragmenting leaves telling of where the book has been and what it has done. With many libraries and bookstores closed due to COVID-19, finding that book outside of your home is not feasible. We can find in our own old books remnants of past memories or start to crack open new ones. It’s a great time to catch up on the books in your house. But if you don’t have the books at home to supplement your reading habits, here is a list of all the places with online ebook collections and some who have expanded their free selections for the time being. 

By Elizabeth Brownfield


College students are in luck because JSTOR, a well known academic resource, has expanded their free collections for those with participating academic institutions and secondary school logins. JSTOR also has a certain level of free online ebooks and articles for all though. So if you aren’t that college student with an obscure choice of senior thesis then don’t be afraid to check it out and maybe you’ll delve into an unappreciated hole of academia and create your own thesis, although you might want to call it a book. 

Project Gutenberg

A library of over 60,000 free online ebooks. It is composed of mostly older literary works published before 1924. However, that means it’s a great resource for high school students and those with an interest in English literature. There are also a variety of books in other languages including German, Spanish, French, Chinese and Italian and many more. The website is simple and gives a lot of options for how the reader might want to view the choice book. Additionally they have a top 100 list of books for those just getting into 20th and 19th century literature. Volunteers dedicate their time to Gutenberg by helping proofread content and find new books to upload. You can follow them on twitter and to get updates about what’s just been uploaded into their library.


Librivox draws from the Gutenberg library and focuses on creating free audiobook versions of their collection. Volunteers dedicate their time to recording the books. There is also a large selection of languages to listen to and their content is also very old literature focused. You can follow them on twitter and to get updates about what’s just been uploaded into their library

The Free Library of Philadelphia

The Free Library of Philadelphia has 59,397 digital items in their collection. They feature Children’s Literature, Maps, Medieval Manuscripts, Art, and more. Because it has physical locations, the library’s collections are more varied and have something for everyone. It would be a useful collection for young parents who have run out of children’s books to read, or history buffs interested in the Architectural blueprints of Philadelphia. There are a wide variety of written and illustrated objects worth viewing even if it is only through the internet. 

Standard Ebooks 

Drawing from other online ebook resources, Standard Ebooks upgrades their selections to include typesets and beautiful covers. Since they focus on full proof-reading and creating a masterpiece to add to your ebook library, they desire quality over quantity. Their mission is to add more of the aesthetics of a regular book into your ebook experience. This ebook resource is best for people who want to feel like they’re truly reading a book. 

The Open Library

Although it is online, the Open Library functions more like a library than the other sites. You have to create an account to “check out” books, but the process is simple and helps the website keep track of the popularity of their books. The Open Library is not exclusive to literature and includes biographies, textbooks, cookbooks, and books on religions, art, and medicine. They have books such as Harry Potter and The Hobbit, a wide range of fantasy, romance, and science fiction books and much more. It is also very easily navigated with everything you could possibly need in the first page. 

Comment if you know any other great online resources for online ebooks! Tag us in your book selections or send us an email below!

Elizabeth Brownfield is an intern at the American Writers Museum, and a senior at Lake Forest College where she majors in Art History with minors in Digital Media Design and Environmental Studies. She is currently writing remotely from her home in Kentucky.

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