Today more than ever, we need free PDF textbooks. Why? Because the prices of college textbooks have gone sky-high over the years, and because we live in a world where everything is digitized, textbooks should not be an exception.
According to a study dating from January 2014, students were struggling with high textbook prices to the point where they stopped purchasing books, even though they knew it could affect their grades. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group included more than 2,000 college students from different states and campuses in their survey and found out that students spend $1,200 per year on textbooks and supplies. The education data for the 2021-2022 academic year show that a full-time student pays an annual average cost of $1,226 for textbooks and supplies in a year. Not much has changed over the years. But one thing’s for sure these prices are unacceptable for students who already struggle to afford college. No wonder more and more students are searching for an alternative: cheaper or free pdf textbooks online.
Luckily, there is a wide range of websites that offer free pdf textbooks. By downloading free textbooks you will save time and money and have unlimited access to knowledge. To help you find free and accessible learning material we have created a list of the best websites to download free pdf textbooks. It’s time for you to stop carrying bulky textbooks and save money!
10 Websites to Download Free PDF Textbooks
Since we have established the importance of pdf textbooks it’s time to find the best websites offering free pdf textbooks (books in a digital format available online). These textbooks contain information on a specific subject or a course of study and can be read on computers, tablets, and other electronic devices. Here’s our list of the best 10 websites to download free pdf textbooks:
1. Library Genesis
Library Genesis also known as LibGen is a file-sharing platform with a simple interface and wide access to pdf textbooks, general-interest books, fiction, and non-fiction content, scientific articles, and magazines. LibGen search engine guides you to an effective catalog searching by title, author, publisher, series, or year. Access thousands of textbooks and books online, available for download in pdf and other document formats. Download your free pdf textbook about technology, science, geography, economy, education, and other subject areas by simply using the LibGen search engine.
Library Genesis is one of the best websites to download PDF textbooks because it offers free textbooks in different languages and fields of study, and it’s easy to use. What more can a student ask? Visit LibGen, download your free pdf textbooks, and save money!
The name of the website says it all! Bookboon is a combination of the two words “book” and “boon”. Boon means “helpful or beneficial”, so Bookboon’s mission is to help you in your online quest for books. It’s one of the best websites to download free pdf textbooks because it’s user-friendly and enables access to hundreds of useful textbooks.
If you are a student with Bookboon you will have access to high-quality free textbooks written by professors from the world’s top universities in different areas of expertise.
Bookboon’s priority is to help you find your pdf textbook in no time through its easy-to-use library that is constantly updated and expanded. You can access Bookboon anywhere, anytime, online and offline. For even easier use the textbooks are cataloged into different categories, and the website allows a content preview before downloading. So you can get your free pdf textbook with just a few clicks. Starting from personal-development e-books to statistics and mathematics e-books, Bookboon has it all!
3. Project Gutenberg
Project Gutenberg one of the best websites to download free pdf textbooks has a free library of over 60,000 e-books. Even though Project Gutenberg focuses on literature there are many available textbooks to choose from.
If you are a literature major you will find the world’s great literature here, digitized and proofread by thousands of volunteers. Project Gutenberg believes that everyone should have free, unlimited access to e-books as a path to literacy, education, and future opportunities. Thanks to the work of many volunteers you will have unlimited access to a free collection of e-band textbooks on different topics. You can search Project Gutenberg’s online and offline catalog with the feeds of new books, a list of sites hosting Project Gutenberg e-books, and the GUTINDEX listings of e-books by year. Whether you want to find a free e-book or pdf textbook or you are just a literary enthusiast, Project Gutenberg is at your disposal with its broad selection of digitized content.
Free-Ebooks enables you to download thousands of free e-books and textbooks online. Once you become a member, Free-Ebooks offers free download of 5 books each month. Even though pdf format is the most common, Free-Ebooks offers e-books and textbooks in EPUB, Kindle, and TXT format.
There are many categories to choose from like fiction and non-fiction, academic, textbooks, classics, children’s audiobooks, and others. Free-Ebooks is another website on our list of best websites to download free pdf textbooks that allows a preview before downloading. Read anytime, anywhere with Free-Ebooks and expand your knowledge in the field of your interest. Join this tremendous e-library for free by signing up through your e-mail or by using Facebook.
Textbooksfree is another great website to download free pdf textbooks online. Use the wide selection of free textbook learning material in different categories like business and economics, art and social sciences, education, history, and other internet collections.
Textbooksfree offers you limitless access to free textbooks for high school and college students. With its simple interface and abundant pdf textbook selection it’s one of the most popular websites for downloading free textbooks for high school students. Another plus for Textbooksfree is its wide selection of research papers, test prep materials, and video lectures. Wait no longer, save money, and learn everything you want by downloading the available free learning material on textbooksfree.org.
Scholarworks is available on a shared, open platform with the California State University (CSU). You can access different course materials, presentations, videos, reports, and pdf textbooks through the website’s link for Open Educational Resources (OER).
ScholarWorks stands for long-term preservation of textbook materials and enables permanent access to a large online library for college students. The website allows and encourages submitting of new materials as a part of the OER program. Once you check out these numbers, you will see why ScholarWorks is one of the best websites to download free pdf textbooks:
- Submitted content: 107,631
- Collections: 500
- Total views: 41,011,102
- Last year’s views: 9,425,115
What’s even more important, ScholarWorks is maintained by CSU experts who enable you to have steady access to free textbooks that you can search by title, author, keywords, citation, and more.
7. PDF Books World
PDF Books World is an online library offering free pdf books in a variety of categories and genres. You can download your free pdf academic textbooks or your favorite fiction and non-fiction e-books, and novels. This website’s mission is to give you the most popular works of legendary authors in a modern digitized format.
Being aware of the high demand for free e-books and textbooks PDF Books World has created Books with distinct editions optimized for different electronic devices. To have access to the unlimited free content on PDF Books World it’s required to have membership registration. Once you register you can search the content of your choice by title, author, or subject. Explore the library of one of the best websites to download free pdf textbooks by using its navigate-friendly interface and responsive web design. Visit PDF Books World and access your free pdf textbooks from devices of any screen size including laptops, tablets, and mobile phones.
8. Open Library
Open Library is an internet archive offering free e-books and pdf textbooks. To have access to millions of books available through Control digital lending you need to sign up to create an account or log in if you already have an account. By signing up for Open Library you can read free library books online, or download free pdf textbooks. Also, you can organize and keep track of your favorite books, using the available digital shelves or lists.
Open Library is an online project that offers free and open content of trending books, classic books, books that you love, recently returned books, romance books, thrillers, kids’ books, and textbooks. Open Library allows every book enthusiast to contribute to the establishment of the free book catalog, and to help in improving the digital library. The available books and textbooks in Open Library come in different formats, and besides pdf, you can find e-books in EPUB, PDF, DJVU, and MOBI formats. Sign in and join Open Library to become a member of one of the best websites to download free pdf textbooks.
OpenStax was created as a nonprofit educational program at Rice University. Therefore, it’s oriented to help students in their search for college textbooks. OpenStax has a variety of textbooks in different study fields like mathematics, physics, social sciences, biology, humanities, business, statistics, and more. Besides free college textbooks, there’s a small number of high school textbooks as well.
OpenStax’s goal is to provide open education resources to give students access to affordable, engaging education. It’s one of the world’s biggest learning platforms and publisher of free content for students throughout the world. OpenStax is open to everyone with a desire to learn and improve. These numbers speak louder than words on the quality of OpenStax as an open educational resource:
- OpenStaxhas saved students $1.2 billion less than a decade after publishing its first free, openly licensed textbook;
- 5 million students from 140 countries and 70% of higher US schools use OpenStax;
Download your pdf textbooks and become a part of the worldwide students’ community using OpenStax educational resources 100% free.
10. Open Textbook Library
Open Textbook Library aims to change higher education and student learning by offering free licensed textbooks. Download your textbook from the Open Textbook Library verified by the Open Education Network. If you decide to use one of the best websites to download free textbooks you will be able to use and distribute the available free textbooks. Open Textbook Library offers licensed textbooks that can be used and adapted.
Open Textbooks Library accepts new textbooks in its library under the following criteria:
- The content has to be openly licensed by GNU and Creative Commons (CC) licenses;
- The textbook has to be original, complete, and available in pdf or other portable files;
- The textbook has to be in use in more than one higher education school or professional association;
If you like what you have read so far about the Open Textbook Library start using its open library or give a contribution by submitting an open textbook for everyone to use.
Selection and Quality of Textbooks
As you can see there is a broad selection of available textbooks online. The websites on our list offer hundreds to millions of textbooks but remember quality is always before quantity. So, when you visit the websites to download free pdf textbooks make sure they offer quality textbooks. To do so you need to be familiar with the quality and accuracy criteria of the textbooks you are interested in. Here’s a set of criteria that support open education (BCcampus Self Publishing Guide) and standards (QM Higher Education Specific Review Standards) you can use to evaluate the textbooks’ quality:
- Range and classification: Textbooks should contain a standard range and classification for a specific college course. Textbooks should be easily dividable into smaller sections, to enable modularity;
- Accuracy of the content: Textbooks contain accurate, unbiased, up-to-date content without errors. The content of the textbooks should be reviewed by subject matter experts;
- Instructional design: Textbooks should cover different instructional materials (thoughtful questions, learning activities) to encourage active learning;
- Clarity of text: Textbooks content should be organized, clear, and have a logical sequence of topics with no grammatical and spelling errors;
- Visual clarity and reliability: Textbooks should not include unclear images (image resolution up to present standards) and charts that may confuse the reader;
- Accessibility and inclusive design: Textbooks should offer accessible and organized text and images acceptable for diverse learners. Textbooks should display diversity and inclusion concerning culture, gender, religion, ethnicity, origin, age, disability, and sexual orientation according to the context of the subject content;
- Additional materials: Textbooks should include high-quality additional materials which help teachers in the teaching process and students in the learning process.
Now that you know the best websites to download free pdf textbooks and how to check a textbook’s quality it’s essential to stress the importance of checking the copyright status of a textbook/book before downloading. According to Stanford’s Library information on how to check the copyright status of a book, you should know the following signs of a valid copyright notice:
- The copyright notice should include the word “copyright”, and a “c” in a circle (©) (examples: Copyright © 2013-23 PDFBooksWorld, Copyright © 2023 Free-eBooks.net™)
- The copyright notice should contain the publication date and the name of the writer or owner of the published work’s copyright rights.
Copyright owners can increase copyright protection by registering and enforcing the copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office. International copyright treaties like the Berne Convention and the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) treaty, have similar copyright protection rules as the ones in the United States. If you want to use a textbook/book without the permission of the author, you can do so when a textbook/book enters the public domain after copyright expiration.
It’s great to have the opportunity to download free pdf textbooks knowing how expensive they can be, leaving you with nothing but debts after graduation. Besides being budget-friendly the best websites to download free pdf textbooks are accessible, offer a variety of books and textbooks for different fields of study and interest, and can be used from different electronic devices.
Whether you are a college or high school student or enjoy reading, you can find the content of your choice for free by searching these websites. E-books and textbooks are just a click away. Just make sure to check their quality and copyright status before downloading.
Also Read: 7 Legal Sites to Download Free College Textbooks (And 4 Alternatives)
Nowadays, there are more Open Education Resource (OER) platforms like OpenStax, Open Textbook Library, Open Library, ScholarWorks, WikiBooks, Khan Academy, etc. that offer textbooks and other educational materials for free under the Creative Commons License (CCL). The CCL licensing grants copyright permission to creators and institutions for their creative work. Hence, when you use and download pdf textbooks from OER platforms you are within the boundaries of the copyright law, and you can freely copy, distribute, edit, and built upon the available content. So, wait no longer! Use our list and tips on textbook quality and copyright status, and start downloading free textbooks from the best websites and OER platforms.