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Where to buy e-books or get them for free

How to get digital books for your e-reader

If you've got an e-book reader, here's how to fill it up with your favourite digital books. And some of them are free.

In most cases you'll need to hook up to a PC or laptop to get hold of content to read on your e-book device. Both Amazon and Apple are incentivising publishers to offer their authors' titles as e-books with attractive revenue deals, and have around 70 publishing houses signed up.

You don't necessarily need to pay for books, however. You can grab digital extracts of books from Lovereading.co.uk and by going to the author or publisher websites, while BooksOnBoard.com offers a selection of free Harlequin romances and a range of cut-price titles. It’s worth signing up for newsletters from specific publishing houses whose authors you enjoy – or even following them on Twitter.

For recently released paperbacks by internationally known authors, you're likely to pay around £8 a time – a similar price, in other words, to buying a physical copy from a bookshop. Not all e-books are as expensive, however. Waterstone’s sells paperback fiction and non-fiction for around £9 a title, but its classic e-books – out-of-copyright books nicely repackaged – are just £4.50 to £5.

There's also The Book People, which sells the latest ebooks as well as paperbacks at competitive prices.

Special offers can also be found, particularly if you're on the hunt for bodice rippers and raunchy romances. Free titles you can download tend to be first-time novelists and those without established agents.

WHSmith's (whsmith.co.uk) pricing is similar, while Foyles' most popular titles tend to be more expensive. You will pay £16 for Hilary Mantel's Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall, for example – the same as if you were buying a hardback copy.

An advanced search on the Foyles site allows you to browse through its 77,000-strong e-books list, where you'll find some titles at paperback prices and some educational and religious studies ones for £3 or £4. This list includes audiobooks.


If audiobooks also interest you, the two main sources are Amazon-owned Audible.co.uk and Audiobooks.co.uk. The former operates on a subscription basis, where the first three months cost £3.99 each and you then pay £7.99. In return you get heavy discounts. Full-price audiobooks cost around £12 to £19.

The Audio Book Store offers good bundled deals – £25 for 10 Penguin Classics on CD, while downloadable audiobooks cost around £10 each.

NEXT: e-book offers, and lending library >>

See also: Group test: what's the best e-Book reader

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