Skip to main content

Cambridge LibGuides

ebooks@cambridge: Free & open access

A guide to finding and using ebooks at the University of Cambridge


There are a growing number of open access ebooks available. For larger collections of open access ebooks, the ebooks@cambridge team endeavours to add individual book records to iDiscover. If we are aware of smaller collections or one-off, free ebooks which are useful to our users, we will add them to this page.

Do you know of any other free collections or titles? Let us know and we will consider adding them to this page.


Free collections

  • Alex - A full text indexed collection of classic American and English literature as well as Western philosophy, written or translated into English.
  • Bartleby — The full text of many classic literary works, including Shakespeare.
  • Bible Gateway – The full text of approximately 100 versions of the Bible in 54 languages.
  • Blake Archive – This archive contains electronic copies of William Blake’s illuminated books, as well as a number of his illustrations, drawings, paintings and manuscript works.
  • CARRIE – This full-text electronic library hosted by the European University Institute in Italy, contains digitised primary documents as well as ebooks in history.
  • Cascadilla Proceedings Project – Linguistics conference proceedings from Cascadilla Press.
  • Christian Classics Ethereal Library - A digital library of hundreds of Christian books, including 42 Bibles in various languages.
  • Film Studies for Free - A list of open access ebooks on film studies.
  • Gaia (University of California) - A collection of 28 open access books on global, international and area studies.
  • Gallica – This site from the Bibliothque Nationale de France allows access to thousands of digitised books, mostly in French.
  • HSRC Press - South African open access publisher in social science. The Press publishes the research output of the Human Science Research Council and externally authored works. Many titles are free to download.
  • Literature Project – Collection of full-text books, poems, plays and speeches.
  • Making of America (Cornell University) - A digital library for American social history containing 267 digitised books from the 19th century, but focusing mostly on serials.
  • Making of America (Michigan University) - A digital library for American social history containing approximately 1,600 digitised books from 1850-1877.
  • ManyBooks – Classic texts can be downloaded to a range of formats including for a variety of ebook readers. New titles are added regularly and an RSS feed is available for new additions.
  • Open Book Publishers - An independent academic publisher in Humanities and Social Sciences. Many of their books are available to read for free online.
  • Open SUNY Textbooks - An open access textbook publishing initiative established by State University of New York libraries. The textbooks are fully downloadable and cover subjects in Arts & Humanities, Social Sciences, Sciences and Technology.
  • Oxford Text Archive — The archive holds several thousand electronic texts and linguistics corpora, in a variety of languages. Includes online versions of works by individual authors, standard reference works and a range of language corpora.
  • Page by Page Books - Offers public domain ebooks to read online, presented as a series of web pages, so that individual pages can be bookmarked.
  • Penn State Romance Studies - An open access peer-reviewed monograph series in the languages, literatures, and cultures of the Romance languages.
  • Perseus Digital Library – A searchable and browsable collection of ebooks. The largest collections are classics and 19th century American studies, but other collections include Arabic, Germanic and Renaissance materials.
  • Society of Antiquities of Scotland – As well as conference proceedings, the site provides access to out-of-print titles in this archaeological monograph series.
  • University of Virginia Press: Rotunda - The Founders Early Access collection offers free full text to unpublished documents from the founders of the United States. These documents may change as further editorial work is undertaken, and once a document is published, it is removed from this site.
  • UVa Text Collection - A collection of digital documents central to teaching and research in the Humanities provided by the University of Virginia (formerly Etext Center). Some documents may only be available to University of Virginia users
  • Victorian Prose Archive - A collection of texts of scholarly interest by eight Victorian authors, including Matthew Arnold and Oscar Wilde.
  • Botanicus – A freely accessible portal to historic botanical literature from the Missouri Botanical Garden Library. Currently includes over 1000 titles (books and journals) with an RSS feed available for recent additions. Images are free for non-commercial use.
  • FreeBooks4Doctors – This site provides access to 360 free medical books.
  • InTech — A multidisciplinary Open Access publisher of books and journals covering the fields of Science, Technology and Medicine with over 2000 ebooks available to date.
  • MSRI Books – A series of Mathematical Sciences Research Institute Pulications from Cambridge University Press. The full text of new books is available a few months after publication.
  • National Academies Press – Over 4000 titles from the US National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council are available to download. The free pdfs are available exclusively from the NAP site and remain subject to copyright laws.
  • NCBI Bookshelf – National Center for Biotechnology Information’s Bookshelf site provides free access to books and documents in life science and healthcare.
  • Open Book Project - A computer science textbook and series on electricity and electronics are available, as well as tutorials and courses.
  • O'Reilly Open Books Project - A collection of free ebooks in computer science.
  • American Memory - This historical collection includes 1,500 nineteenth century American ebooks in several subject areas.
  • Bookboon - Over 500 downloadable textbooks, mainly in the areas of Business/Economics, Engineering, Natural Sciences and IT, are available from this publisher of free ebooks.
  • Bookserver (Internet Archive) – A project of the Internet Archive. Access ebooks via the search box. Includes out-of-copyright texts from Project Gutenberg among other collections.
  • British Library “Turning the pages” – Facsimiles of a selection of books from the British Library’s collection are available, with software that can turn virtual pages. Alternative static versions are also available.
  • Chicago University Press free monthly ebook - A different ebook is available free each month from Chicago University Press.
  • Cornell University Library Historical Monographs Collection - A collection of selected monographs with expired copyrights chosen from a variety of disciplines.
  • Digital Book Index – This index provides links to more than 165,000 ebooks covering a variety of subjects. Over 140,000 of these are free. The index can be searched and browsed.
  • Digital Library of India – Contains ebooks, ejournals and digitised manuscripts, predominantly in Indian languages.
  • DOAB: Directory of Open Access Books - Contains 1265 academic peer-reviewed books from 35 publishers, indcluding several university presses.
  • E-Books Directory – A growing list of freely downloadable ebooks, documents and lecture notes. It is possible to search, browse by subject and see recently added or most popular titles.
  • ebooks@Adelaide – Collection of classic works including literature, philosophy, science, religion and history. Note these are published as new editions, with no attempt to retain pagination of print copies.
  • Global Text Project - A collection of undergraduate e-textbooks available under a creative commons licence in business, computing, education, health, science and social science.
  • Google Books –Out-of-copyright books can be viewed online, and those in the public domain can be downloaded and saved.
  • HathiTrust — A collaborative repository from US research libraries, containing over 10 million digitised volumes. Not all are freely accessible, however over 2.5 million public domain digitised works can be downloaded.
  • Internet Archive Text Archive - Contains a wide range of fiction, popular books, children's books, historical texts and academic books.
  • ipl2 (Internet Public Library) — 45000+ full text works, fiction and non-fiction plus online reference works. Divided into subject collections for easy browsing but also fully searchable.
  • MobileRead – As well as an online e-publishing forum, the ebooks tab provides access to free ebooks that can be downloaded to ebook readers.
  • Münchener Digitalisierungszentrum Digitale Bibliothek — Important rare books resource based mainly on the collections of the Bavarian State Library.
  • OAPEN Library (Open Access Publishing in European Networks) - A multidisciplinary Open Access library of 860+ titles from European publishers freely available as PDF files, including titles in several languages. Includes 30 titles from UK publishers under the OAPEN-UK JISC ebooks project.
  • Ohio State University Press - Offers open access to a range of scholarly texts, particularly in literature and history.
  • Online Books Page – A regularly updated listing of over 1 million ebooks that are freely readable over the internet, maintained by the University of Pennsylvania Library.
  • Open Access Textbooks - The Resources tab contains links to websites that provide open access textbooks.
  • Open Library – A project of the Internet Archive, provides records for 20 million books, and access to 1.7 million scanned books. The search can be limited to ebooks only.
  • Open Textbook Library - These books can be downloaded for no cost, or printed at low cost. All textbooks are either used at multiple higher education institutions; or affiliated with an institution, scholarly society, or professional organization.
  • Perlego – The "spotify for learning books", this platform includes a large number of free ebooks in a range of subjects. You will need to create an account on the platform in order to use the free ebooks.
  • Project Gutenberg — A fully searchable collection of 18000+ multilanguage eBooks. Many classic titles and other formats such as audio books. It has a fully searchable online catalogue.
  • Questia - Over 5,000 classic and rare books available to read online for free.
  • University of Adelaide Press — The University of Adelaide’s Barr Smith Library has established a digital Press with an electronic edition of each new book published as well as print. The electronic editions are Open Access and free, in PDF format. There are currently 17 titles.
  • University of Arizona Press – Offers 13 titles which are free to read online, mainly in astronomy, archaeology and anthropology.
  • University of California Press — Over 700 titles from UCP’s Scholarship Editions are available to the public. These include books on art, science, history, music, religion and fiction.
  • University of Pittsburgh Press – A multidisciplinary collection of over 750 monographs are available on open access.
  • Wikibooks - Multidisciplinary open-content textbooks, which can be edited by anyone. Many books are incomplete, however featured books are those that have been considered by the community to represent the best quality wikibooks.
  • Wikisource - Multidisciplinary open-content ebook library, which can be edited by anyone. These texts are available in many languages, and in translation, as well as in comic, film and audiobook form.

Free individual titles


Looking for an open-access ebook or ebook chapter by a Cambridge academic? A growing number of open access books or book chapters are available in Apollo. Apollo is the online repository of the University of Cambridge's research output.

Further ebooks information for Cambridge librarians can be found on the Cambridge Libraries Intranet.