From devoted Jane Austen fans to Kate Atkinson enthusiasts, many book lovers are drawn to e-readers. They may not have that new book smell but they can help you save space and — if you know where to find a bargain — money!

There's a whole raft of fantastic new books coming out this year, but if you love a classic, you're in luck. In the UK, copyright generally expires 70 years after the author's death, so many golden oldies, from the Bronte sisters to Dickens, are available for free as e-books. Bookstores and publishers sometimes offer newer books at lower prices too.

Whether you're preparing for your upcoming holiday or just need a new read for your morning commute, here are some ways to get your hands on some free and discounted e-books.

Search your bookstore

The best place to start your search is your e-reader’s integrated bookstore. The process differs depending on which device you have, and which store you’re buying from – and so do the books and offers open to you.

Amazon Kindle

    There are so many ways to find free books on Amazon’s official ebook store.

    On our Kindle, we searched for ‘free’ and tapped ‘Free Kindle Books’ in the list of results. This returned more than 58,000 titles.

    If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, which costs £7.99 a month, you can also download free ebooks from a selection of more than 1000 charged-for titles as part of the Prime Reading plan. You can download up to 10 and there are no return dates, but once you hit that limit you’ll need to return some from the Manage my Content and Devices page on your Kindle account before you can download any more.

    Signing up to Kindle Unlimited, which has a 30-day free trial and then renews at £7.99 a month, expands the selection to more than a million books, plus audiobooks and magazine subscriptions (including Good Housekeeping!).

    If you’re happy to receive the odd email, sign up to First Reads for early access to a handful of books every month picked by Amazon Editors. Prime subscribers can download one book from the selection for free, and non-subscribers can do the same for 99p. You’ll also qualify for discounts on printed books, with the option to buy up to 10 copies of your chosen title at £3.99 each, which is a great way to source subsidised titles for a book group.

    Finally, Amazon has a list of the Top 100 free ebooks on its website, rather than in the Kindle store itself, and you can also sign up to its Kindle Daily Deals newsletter, which will flag the best free and cheap ebooks available.

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    Apple and Android Devices

      You can read Kindle books on an iPad with Amazon’s free Kindle app.

      Alternatively, you can use Apple’s own Books app, which is built in and likewise includes a selection of free titles. Tap Browse Sections at the top of the home screen, followed by ‘Special Offers & Free’ to reveal the 15 most popular free books on the store and, further down, free classics. There are similar free charts in every section of the store, so if you want to find free history books, or biographies, tap those sections in the sidebar that appears after tapping Browse Sections, and scroll down.

      If you have an Android phone or tablet, Google offers free books through its Play Store.

      Sign up to BookBub

      If you don’t want the hassle of searching for free eBooks yourself, sign up to BookBub, which does it for you for free.

      Once you’ve entered your email address, told it how much you typically read, the different genres you’re interested in, the country you’re from and the bookstore you usually buy from (Amazon, Apple, etc.) you can sit back and wait for the offers to arrive.

      Whenever your preferred bookstore has free or heavily discounted ebooks in the genres you selected, BookBub will alert you with an email. It also offers a handy link directly to each ebook it highlights, so you can download them easily.

      Borrow a book from a library

      Readers have used libraries to access free books for years, and many of them are keeping up with the demand for digital books.

      Local libraries up and down the country will let you borrow ebooks for a couple of weeks which can be read on some e-readers. While some libraries have partnered with a service called OverDrive, others use BorrowBox, so check with your local library to check which one they use and how you can access its online catalogue. Often, searching Google for your local authority library area and ‘ebooks’ – ‘Essex libraries ebooks’, for example – will turn up the page you need.

      However, it’s worth noting these books can be downloaded in ePub format, which works on Kobo (as well as Nook and Sony e-readers, and other non-Amazon devices), but not on Kindles.

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      You can’t download them straight to the device – you’ll have to visit your library’s website and follow the links to browse the ebook library. Then, when you decide to borrow an ebook, you’ll need to first download it to your PC or Mac before you can transfer it to your device by connecting the e-reader to your computer with a USB cable. This might sound like a lot of work, but you’ll quickly get used to it, and it’s certainly cheaper than buying new releases on the high street or through an ebook store.

      Alternatively, if you’re using an Android smartphone or tablet, iPhone, iPad or Amazon Kindle Fire tablet, you can download books directly and read them on the same device using the free OverDrive or BorrowBox apps.

      Once you’ve finished reading an ebook, simply return it via the app or your library’s website.

      Project Gutenberg

      Project Gutenberg is one of the largest sources of legitimately free ebooks on the web. It offers more than 60,000 free ebooks, the majority of which are out of copyright, in a range of different formats, including Kindle. However, just as with borrowing ebooks through your library, you’ll need to visit the Project Gutenberg website, download the ebook to your PC, then transfer it to your device using USB.

      Where to find cheaper books

      Not every book can be downloaded legally for free, but you can at least make sure you get it for as little as possible.

      The eReaderIQ website, which tracks ebook store price changes, maintains lists of books for less than £1, price drops, and free titles. More importantly, it also lets you enter the title of a book you’d like to read, and specify your ideal price. It will then send you an email as soon as it hits that price or lower. It works in the same way as Camel Camel Camel does for other items on Amazon.