Friends looking at iPad

Five Ways to Read Entire Books Online

Trying to read full-length books online can be frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be. We’ve put together five of the best websites to read full-length books online!


1. Project Gutenberg


Project Gutenberg logo

Image Via Project Gutenberg


Project Gutenberg, a volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works and “encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks”, is the granddaddy of eBook publications. Started in 1971 with the digitization and online publication of the first “eBook”, Declaration of Independence of the United States of America, Project Gutenberg has become the standard, as many sites that offer free eBooks gather titles from the public domain, many of which were originally uploaded through Project Gutenberg.


Project Gutenberg offers a variety of different download options if you’re interested in an offline reading experience, but reading online via HTML is pretty much as easy as can be.


Project Gutenberg download options

Image Via Project Gutenberg


Ideal: The most comprehensive collection of classics available, and available to read online and download for free.


Not ideal: Digitized copies of current books aren’t necessarily a priority.


2. Read Any Book


Read Any Book logo

Image Via Read Any Book


Stephen King, J. K. Rowling, the Gossip Girl series, and many, many others are available through Read Any Book (RAB). While the format RAB uses for their free online reading isn’t ideal, it certainly isn’t terrible. Unlike Project Gutenberg, there isn’t an option to read in HTML, but full books are available in a Kindle-esque viewer which is easily readable on both desktop and mobile devices. 


Read Any Book online reader

Image Via Read Any Book


Ideal: If you’re looking to read popular books from major publishers online with no frills and no fuss, this is the one for you. 


Not ideal: If you want to download any books, you are prompted to sign in with your lucentfun login. Lucentfun is a monthly subscription service offering “all your favorite late night movies, games, books, and music in one spot for $39.95”. Yikes.


3. Smashwords


Smashwords logo

Image Via Smashwords


Smashwords is the largest and best developed platform for independent authors and publishers with over 465,000 total books available and over 70,000 free to read online. The search feature is surprisingly helpful, with options to organize search results by price or length.


Smashbooks online reader

Image Via Smashwords


Ideal: Hands down the best online reading experience. You’re able to customize font style and size, text and page color, as well as line spacing.


Not ideal: I’m torn. The platform Smashwords gives independent authors is incredible but there’s just so much to discover. An optimized search feature that gives recommendations based on an author or book you enjoy could really take this site to the next level.


4. BookRix


BookRix logo

Image Via BookRix


BookRix is a free self-publishing platform that offers eBook distribution services to independent writers. Users can share their writing, connect with other readers, and discover new books and authors.


BookRix online reader

Image Via BookRix


Ideal: BookRix’s homepage is simple, simple, simple, with two columns: Bestsellers and Recommendations. To compare, Smashwords homepage shows you the most recent books, any price, any length.


Not ideal: Like Read Any Book, their format could be better. But hey, free books are free books!


5. Scribd


Scribd logo

Image Via Scribd


Scribd still makes the list, though I think their shift to a subscription based membership has really limited their audience (free books are no longer available to non-users). After a thirty day free trial, you’ll pay $8.99 a month for unlimited audiobooks, unlimited access to magazines and documents, but will be limited to three book credits a month. Sure, these credits roll over and any book you “purchase” with a credit will be available to you as long as the book is available on Scribd. 


Scribd online reader


Ideal: The book selection is excellent, and so is the iPhone app. They offer an Essential Student Bundle to undergraduate and graduate students, a one time cost of $29.99 that gets you one semester (four months) of Scribd, plus digital access to the New York Times.  


Not ideal: Currently, there’s no way to access more than three books a month, so if you read a lot, you’re going to feel limited. 


Featured Image Via VideoBlocks.