Finding Free Books On the Road

Paul enjoys a glass and a read with his Android phone in NM

I’ve always been a voracious reader. It’s my favorite thing to do in the wee hours before sleep and I usually get through at least one or two books a week. We had a huge library in our old stix house and losing my books was actually one of my biggest worries getting on the road…how was I going to feed my need to read??!

Well our first year out I broke down and bought a Kindle which immediately made my reading life 1000% better (I’m a huge fan now). Since then I’ve read many hundreds of free books and discovered a bunch more ways to get free books on the road. Here are a few of my favorite tips:

1/ Electronic Books With Expired Copyright

P.G. Wodehouse is one of my favorite all-time classic comedy writers

Anyone can download and read electronic books, even if you don’t have a Kindle. You can use your smartphone, your Nook, your PC or your iPad. One of the easiest way to get titles is from older books with expired copyright (anything pre-1923 is open game, although more modern books can qualify too). Many have been converted to electronic format and these are legally free and available to everyone -> IF you know how find them. Here are my favorite links for snagging them:

  • On Your Kindle: The Kindle has tons of old classic books for free. Just look-up old authors and go banana’s with downloads. I use this method when I know what I’m looking for. Otherwise I go to the internet.
  • On the Internet: is the gateway to the internet’s largest collection of copyright-free books with over 3 million titles for download in just about any format you want for any reader you want. Browse and download titles through the nice, searchable interface at or link to any of the sub-collections like Project Gutenberg.
  • On Your Smartphone: If you have a smartphone you can download cool apps like Free Books or Wattpad that give you instant access to thousands of classic free titles right on your phone.

2/ Daily Free Listings For Kindle

This is a fabulous resource for Kindle users that I only discovered recently. When new titles are listed on they’re often offered for free for a few days before going on regular sale. In a similar vein some authors may offer one book of a series for free or do a few free days to promote sales. There are literally hundreds of contemporary books listed like this everyday covering any and all topics from fiction to investment to cooking. The key is to catch them while they’re free!

My new FAVORITE site!!

You can find these books directly on your Kindle (under “Best Sellers” there’s a link “Top 100 Free”), but I find it hard to sort through them that way. A much better option is to use an online search engine like eReaderIQ. Sign-up for a daily list of top 25 free books with description and ratings included and you’ll get a handy-dandy e-mail everday sorted by topic. You’ll literally never out of stuff to read this way!

3/ Physical Bookswaps

The free bookswap at Quartzsite, AZ

For those of us who still like to have the paperback in hand (and I do every now and then), bookswaps are a great way to get real books on the road. Many private RV parks will have a small local bookswap and some towns will too.

We found a huge bookswap at the laundromat in Quartzsite, AZ and a hidden swap in the mailbox at Peg Leg Monument in Borrego Springs, CA. The locals usually know where to find them (as will people where you’re staying) so ask around to find those hidden book-gems.

4/ OnLine Bookswaps

There are tons of online bookswap sites where users can exchange used books (sometimes CDs & DVDs too). Typically these items go slow-mail and take a few weeks to get to you so they’re best suited for when you know you’ll be sitting still for a while (e.g. a winter spot?). Before we packed up our stix house we used to get rid of a ton of old books and ended up with over 80 credits that we’ve been slowly using on the road. Other good swaps sites are BookMooch and TitleTrader.

I read most of my stuff on the Kindle and have been going banana’s with new titles ever since I discovered #2. My need to read has been freed :)

Got any tips to finding free books of your own?

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  1. says

    WOW this is a great post! Like you the sadest part of dumping my “stuff” was all my books. Some are still stored. I couldn’t bear to part with them. I’m having book withdrawl since they are so expensive and hard to come by on the road without a library. I’ve resisted the kindle etc becasue I like to smell the ink and actually turn the pages. I like the heft. I don’t want to be one of the statistics that puts book publishers out of business or dooms literature to e-everything.
    That said, I don’t know how much longer I can hold out being a 100+ books a year reader before going on the road. Thanks for this.


    • libertatemamo says

      I’d really recommend giving the Kindle a try. Honestly I was like you before I bought it…declared to hubby that I would never be able to read on an electronic device, and held out for a whole year before I broked down and bought one. I just couldn’t imagine giving up physical books! But the Kindle has been amazing. The screen is much nicer to read than I ever imagined and I’ve totally adapted to it. Definitely recommend it!

  2. jjcruisers says

    I’ve used a Kindle for about 2 years and haven’t read a paper book in that time. I love it. Like you, I followed the Kindle blogs daily and downloaded tons of free books, many of which I read and enjoyed. Then, enter the public library. If you qualify to use a public library that has a digital lending program, you can check out digital books for your Kindle. Different libraries have different lending periods and limits on how many you can check out at a time. My library uses Overdrive coupled with Amazon to transmit the books. Go to and locate a library by zip code. You need a wifi connection to download books. You can have them delivered to your Kindle or to your laptop. Once on your laptop, the books can be transferred via usb cable. If you don’t finish a book before the loan expires, just leave your wifi on your Kindle turned off until you’ve finished the book. Most of the Kindle books I’ve read in the past few months have been from the public library.

    • libertatemamo says

      Excellent tips! The public library is an option that I haven’t yet explored. Thanks so much for the idea!

  3. says

    Also near Quartzsite–the guard shack at La Posa south has a free book exchange area. We find lots of laundry facilities at campgrounds (and motels!) have book exchanges which may not be official but people do leave books they have finished reading and you are free to take them. I always tried to leave one if taking one. Now I read on my iPad so no longer carry paperbacks to trade but I did a lot of that when we first went full-time so I didn’t miss my local library as much as I thought I would. Now my favorite eBook site is as I like their descriptions and reviews and the fact that they list book of the month/week/whatever selections.

    • libertatemamo says

      Oh NICE! I didn’t know about the LaPosa exchange. And I agree w/ you…I always leave a book for every one I take.
      Paul just got an iPad recently and has been reading on that too. The new screen on the iPad3 is very nice.

  4. Jerry G says

    Great post Nina. Stopped ay Sierra Rising, a small bakery in Lotus, Ca. Great pastries and just past the small seating area a wall full of books for exchange! Being on the road has many nice little surprises. By the way also started going nopoo this week. Had been cutting back on the poo anyway, and your last post was just good timing for me. Thanks

  5. Mitchell says

    Thank you for this very timely post. I’m in the seriously thinking about it, planning stage of going fulltime. Have been selling many of my books and donating others. Missing my books has been one of my concerns about going fulltime. I have resisted the Kindle but like you, everyone tells me I will love it. We’ll see.

    I see you’re in San Diego. I lived there in the 80s and 90s. Beautiful place isn’t it?

    Thanks again for the post.

  6. RV Bond says

    Most libraries these days have downloadable e-books and audio books. Always ask libraries what they require to get a library card. Many libraries will issue you a card by showing a driver’s license or photo ID. Having several library cards will increase your access to e-books.

    • libertatemamo says

      I have to admit I always thought you had to be a local resident to get a library card. I’m going to try and see if I can pick one up here!

  7. says

    We too love to read and got our Kindles before heading off to Mexico, as we didn’t expect to find many English language books. We love it but still occasionally read actual books. Since we have been sitting for awhile, I got a library card and have been checking out books. I go through books at a pretty fast clip and was spending a bit of money downloading books to Kindle. We have found some freebies that are new titles and have now subscribed to eReaderIQ thanks to this post. Thanks also to your other commenters for their great tips. I have a friend who downloads books to her computer through the public library system but I haven’t checked it out yet. Will have to do that soon.

  8. Alex says

    Wow, thanks Nina. I just downloaded 5 books from the ereaderiq site. Great, now I can spend my ENTIRE life on my new iPad.

    • libertatemamo says

      Isn’t it a FAB site? And as if you weren’t ALREADY super-glued to your new iPad -> I know you are!

  9. Sheila says

    This is kind of a variant on your option 3. Before we left on our current 4-month road trip, I sorted through my books at home, dug out a small stack of those I had finished, and brought them with me. I’ve been swapping them out for “new” books at RV park book swap shelves. I figure I can do this indefinitely. (I also have a Kindle.)

    • libertatemamo says

      Yup, starting out with a “stash” of swappable books is an excellent idea. I didn’t think that far ahead when we first started RVing, but wish I had. There are SO many places you can swap on the road.

  10. Sheila says

    BTW—thank you for recommending eReaderIQ. I’d never heard of it, but I’ve already bookmarked it and added it to my toolbar. What a great site!

    • libertatemamo says

      I got the tip from an RV forum and just loved the site as soon as I saw it. Sure glad I can pass the word on.

  11. Jerry B. says

    I’d like your input on your experiences re Kindle/DroidX/ipad choices. I have an “X” that I think Paul has and I have downloaded some books on it. Not bad to read on but it’s time for a tablet. I think I want a 7″ Android but do you like that size for reading and surfing or would you rather use a 10″ version? Whatever I get, it’ll be an Android unit. Thanks in advance, you can pm me if you want. Next week the digital bookmobile is coming to Palo Alto and I’m going to get more input there. Jerry

    • libertatemamo says

      Well for me (personally) the biggest concern is the screen. I find it hard to read my Droid outside and reflections on the screen tire my eyes. The reason I’ve become so attached to the Kindle is that it’s such an easy screen on the eyes -> readable outside and not reflective. So, if you think the screen is a factor I’d most definitely recommend the Kindle.

      As for size Paul originally bought the “big” Kindle (I think it’s close to 10″ screen) and he finds it a little heavy and bulky to read one-handed. When I bought mine I went for the smaller version which I (personally) think is much nicer, purely for reading. It’s the right size & weight to have in one hand comfortably and lie in any position to read. Now, if your’re also surfing on the web the bigger screen may be a positive. Paul has an iPad and certainly enjoys the bigger screen for what he does there. You’ll just have to balance screen size versus weight for your own personal preference/needs.


  12. jil mohr says

    I was going to mention the Public Library but someone beat me to it…I do think you have to have a library card to use it though….most likely from your “home” library…but not sure…thanks for the web sites though…love my kindle…

  13. says

    Excellent post and great links. However, don’t forget the NOOK! We love our NOOK tablets! A great way to search for free books on any e reader is to enter “0.00” in the search box.
    Before we got the NOOKS we would go to Goodwill before a trip and get paperbacks for around a dollar each, and trade them at book swaps during the trip.

    • libertatemamo says

      Thanks for reminding us about the Nook. I’m a bit biased (I admit) on the Kindle, but I know many folks who are very happy with their Nook.
      The Goodwill tip is an excellent idea! Paul and I went to Goodwill just a few weeks ago (for some surfer shorts) and we both remarked what a good deal the paperbacks are there. It’s a great, cheap way to build a “swap-stash”!

  14. beckyio says

    Well I’ve favorited, what a wonderful site! I got my Kindle last fall and for Christmas asked for Amazon gift cards so I could get started on my ebook collection. My little RV doesn’t have much room for books so this was a great solution for me. :)

  15. Jerry B. says

    Thanks for the advice re Kindle/I’pad/Droid issue. I’ve decided to get the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2-7″ which I think will do just fine. I’ve used a Kindle so I have experience with the 7″ screen and it works ok for me. As you say, outdoors nothing works as well as a standard Kindle with E ink but it won’t do anything else. Life is a compromise, and I can bring my full size laptop in the RV if I want more. My Galaxy arrives tomorrow, can’t wait to put in Aldiko, Overdrive, Kobo and more.

  16. says

    We just got an iPad and I’m excited to use some of these links you’ve shared. So far I’ve used iTunes ebook section found lots of free titles there.

    Funny, we also purged a giant booshelf when we sold our house and hit the road… however, we’ve collected plenty of physical books agian since! We’re actually designing a desk/bookshelf for our bedroom in the RV. Oh, it’s an additction, alright. Great post. Thanks & Cheers,

    • libertatemamo says

      Congrats on the iPad! You can download the Kindle reader on the iPad too. Another great way to access Kindle books.

  17. says

    Bookcrossing is a cool site. It’s like “where’s George” for books. You register the books you plan to leave somewhere, such as park laundry. When someone picks up that book, there is a label in the book (that you put there), stating the reg # and how to enter it on the Bookcrossing site. You can see where your book travels.


  1. […] Sounds like the perfect afternoon to curl up with a good book. Coincidentally, for all of us who enjoy reading our books on our Kindles or Kobo’s or IPads or Tablets or even our smart phones Nina over at Wheeling It has done some research and come up with some ways to get thousands of free titles, no matter what device you use to read for nada, and that’s spanish for “nothing” as in “free”. Interested? Well just point your browser over to here . […]

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