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Can I Read Books Online?

By Phil Shepley
Updated May 23, 2024
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It is actually quite simple to find several different ways to read books online, free or otherwise, due to plenty of websites devoted to online reading content. If you look in the right places on the Internet, you can find access to literature in both the fiction and nonfiction categories. This also includes other types of books including children’s books, audio books, learning tutorials, poetry, free ebooks for kids, and more.

In order to get started in the right direction, one might begin looking on any of the wide variety of search engines on the Internet for specific sites that contain free online reading content. In order to read books online that are the right kind of books that you may be searching for, search terms must be specific enough that the search results yield the correct type of content. For example, someone looking for children’s literature might simply search for “children’s online free books.” One of the first Internet sites that this search may possibly yield is the International Children’s Digital Library, which contains many free digitized children’s books and was created to encourage reading and literacy among children.

Another project that has led to a great source to read books online is Project Gutenberg, an effort by many volunteers to digitize and distribute books and other types of content online. Between several websites, Project Gutenberg now offers access to thousands of free online books, also known as e-books, that cover a wide variety of topics. Mainly, these online books consist of Western cultural literature, but they also include novels, short stories, drama, cookbooks, periodicals and reference books, all of which are available mostly in plain text format. Most of these books are public domain, meaning that they are not owned or controlled by anyone and may be distributed without breaking any copyright laws, and some are copyrighted but have been given permission to be distributed for free.

The quality of free online books may vary widely depending on the content, so to read books online, the reader must be prepared to sift through more books in order to find the right one compared to using a real library or book store. It is often easier when searching for specific content to find a site that sells online books for a price rather than to attempt to find it for free. There are even devices you can purchase so that you can read online books away from their home computer, and even download them directly to the device itself. All in all, there are a huge variety of ways that anyone can read books online, and with the proper search skills, anyone can find pretty much any type of literature they are looking for.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By Markerrag — On Jan 27, 2014

Let's not forget that a lot of those online books are portable because you can download them and read them on your favorite mobile device (Nook, Kindle, iPad, Android tablet, etc.) The trick there is finding the right format for your reader, but it's not too much of a hurdle.

I only mention this because I much prefer reading books on a tablet to reading them on a computer. Some people have no problem with reading books on a computer, so more power to them.

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