In this article:
- Students and bookworms alike turn to BookFi’s library of over two million free books when they need to freshen up their reading list.
- But the Russian-based eBook library is a regular target of anti-piracy crackdowns, meaning users are periodically left without the free book resource.
- Fortunately, you can usually find mirror sites housing the eBook library but these can be sketchy and unreliable.
- Other BookFi alternatives like LibraryGenesis, actual libraries, or public domain archives are a safer bet.
BookFi is a Russian-based eBook library, offering over two million books for free to anyone who has a more casual relationship with copyright laws. This popular source of free eBooks is widely used by students and readers on a budget.
Unfortunately, it’s not always the most reliable source since the site regularly gets targeted in anti-piracy crackdowns in the UK and United States. What’s a penny-pinching bookworm to do when BookFi gets shut down? Here are some free BookFi alternatives that you can use.
The Best BookFi Alternatives When You Need Your Bookish Fix
1. Mirror Sites
The obvious first choice is to switch to one of BookFi’s mirror sites. Whenever the site gets targeted, it’s usually pretty quick to pop up on another site. There are tons of mirror sites, however, and they aren’t all equally safe and reliable.
You have to proceed with caution when choosing a new source for downloading copyright-protected books.
Fortunately, LibraryGenesis — a site similar to BookFi — maintains a regularly updated list of mirror sites, complete with notes on which ones appear to be the least buggy and risky. Speaking of LibraryGenesis, check out option #2.
This shadow library featuring over 4 million fiction and non-fiction titles is probably one of the best BookFi alternatives if you’re looking for a site with the same exact concept. LibraryGenesis is a little more methodical and consistent about making sure its users can easily find reliable LibGen mirror sites.
The site even has a relatively active Reddit group where you can find the latest status updates on LibGen and other shadow library websites.
Libby is the mobile app version of OverDrive, a free tool used by public libraries all around the world to deliver free eBooks and audiobooks to their members. You can find textbooks, fiction, nonfiction, and anything else that your library offers. But therein lies the catch.
When you download the app, you register with your local library account. Then, you have access to whatever your local library offers. If your public library is one of the larger ones, like the New York Public Library, the offerings will seem boundless.
For smaller public libraries, however, your options might be more limited.
Even so, it’s absolutely free since it’s offered through your public library and it’s used by libraries around the world. So, it’s worth checking the app first before you turn to other, more legally ambiguous resources.
For students, you can use Sora, the school library version of OverDrive’s app to connect to your school’s eBook and audiobook database.
4. Project Gutenberg
Project Gutenberg was founded by Michael Hart, the literal inventor of eBooks. The mission behind the website is to provide an ever-expanding database of copyright-free books. The collection is maintained by volunteers who painstakingly digitize books and upload them to the site.
While it only offers books that are in the public domain or otherwise not copyright protected, the archive of ancient and rare texts is a great resource for academic research. Humanities students, especially, will benefit from the collection.
5. Library of Congress Digital Archive
The U.S. Library of Congress is also working tirelessly to digitize its collection and make it publicly available online. Like Project Gutenberg, the books and articles available are all in the public domain or otherwise copyright-free.
Unlike Project Gutenberg, the Library of Congress has a much more varied archive.
They offer more than just eBooks. You can also find old newspapers, maps, photographs, sheet music, audio recordings, and tons of other very cool material that will help you research that thesis you’re procrastinating on right now.
6. Forgotten Books
Forgotten Books has a similar agenda to Project Gutenberg. The goal is to take rare and old texts that are at risk of being lost to time and creating quality digital versions for free. With over 1 million books in both fiction and nonfiction, it’s a great resource for everything from reading the classics to teaching yourself calculus.
You won’t find the latest edition of your textbooks here. However, humanities majors can probably find free copies of everything on their medieval lit class or their Freudian theories class.
Another cool feature of this site is that they also print physical copies of any book on request. That feature isn’t free, but it is affordable and convenient for those among us who prefer to read physical books.
7. Anarchist Library
The Anarchist Library, as you might guess from the name, has an ideological objective driving its database. You won’t find an abundance of scientific textbooks — unless they’re textbooks on how to use chemistry to abolish the police state. What you will find is a large database of philosophy, gender studies, and other social science books.
For all the social science majors out there — or the budding young anarchists and revolutionaries — it’s a great resource for free books in those fields.
8. Open Textbook Library
The Open Textbook Library is sponsored by the Open Education Network. It offers a database of textbooks in a variety of subjects ranging from humanities to law to the sciences. The catch is that they’re all open license textbooks, meaning you won’t find any of the copyright-protected books your classes probably require.
However, if you’re just interested in learning new things on your own time or want to deepen your expertise to advance your career, it’s an excellent free resource to do just that and one of the most useful legal BookFi alternatives.
9. Open Culture
Open Culture bills itself as “the best free cultural and educational media on the web” and they’re working hard to earn that self-given title. The website maintains a regularly updated list of free eBooks, free audiobooks, free textbooks, free online courses, and other free knowledge from around the web.
10. Your Campus Library
For students who don’t want to fork over hundreds of dollars every semester to buy the latest edition of a textbook, you might be surprised to find out that your own university offers you an alternative: just ask the campus library to buy the book for you!
Here’s how it works:
- Register for classes.
- Get your class syllabus, complete with the list of required reading.
- Search your campus library’s database to see if they already carry any of the titles. If they do, go avail yourself of some free books!
- If they don’t, submit a request for the missing title (with the ISBN number).
While it’s not possible for a library to approve every request for a book that it gets, they will approve it if they can — and they really will try to make it happen. Librarians are cool like that.
You can submit a similar request to your local public library to increase your chances of success. The cool thing about public libraries is that the more you use them, the more government funding they get. The more government funding they get, the more they’ll be able to fulfill your requests. Use your public library, folks!
Between the vibrant community of intellectual pirates running sites like LibGen, the many free online resources, and your local libraries, you should have little trouble finding BookFi alternatives to soak up all the knowledge you could possibly want while still being able to make rent this month!
But if you do have some cash to burn, consider actually buying a book (I know, I know, bear with me) from one of these online bookstores that are not Amazon.