3 reasons to start using eBooks.

  • Get access to new books and free reading materials for students of all ages.
  • Annotate and share your eBooks.
  • Carry an entire library of books to class without the back strain.

Free eBooks make reading a breeze.

Digital books come in many different formats and can offer free access to a massive digital library of reading materials including fiction, nonfiction, children’s books, and audiobooks. This accessibility means they are a useful educational tool for students at every reading level, whether in elementary, middle, or high school.

This guide will give you a deeper look at how:

  • High-quality eBooks can help students
  • Students can read eBooks for free
  • Acrobat and tools like the Adobe Acrobat Compress PDF online tool can help students and teachers get the most from their digital books

How eBooks can help students.

Depending on when you grew up, you may have unpleasant memories of lugging a heavy backpack loaded with books to and from school every day. Students today don’t need to suffer the same fate. Since eBooks take up zero physical space, hundreds of them can be stored on an e-reader like the Amazon Kindle without the physical toll, the hassle of remembering which ones to pack, or the danger that they will be misplaced or damaged.

One of the benefits of eBook for students is they're more affordable than paper or hardback books, making them more accessible to readers. Many e-reader programs, such as the Kindle app, are available for free.

Ebooks are also far more interactive than traditional books. It’s easy to highlight and underline text, take notes, find definitions for words you don’t know, and bookmark pages so you never lose your spot. And support for live, in-text hyperlinks makes it possible to explore information in greater depth.

Finally, thanks to options that adjust reading settings based on the reader’s needs, eBooks can help enhance students’ reading comprehension. For example, Adobe Acrobat Reader’s Liquid Mode — which uses AI and machine learning to automatically reformat text, images, and tables for easy reading on small screens — has been shown to improve students’ reading speeds by up to 27 words per minute.

A student sitting in a university library working on a laptop

How students can read eBooks for free — a step-by-step guide.

1. Choose your device. You don’t need to purchase a Kindle or another kind of e-reader. Of course, if you have access to one, that’s a great place to start. You can also download and read eBooks on your computer, tablet, or smartphone or convert the eBook to PDF if necessary.

2. Decide how long you need access. Libraries will let you borrow a digital book, meaning that you have access to it for only a month or so. Other kinds of sources will let you download the file onto your device so you can access it indefinitely.

3. Find a source. Once you know what tool you will be using and what kind of digital text you need, you can select a source that provides files in a compatible format. Thanks to a number of nonprofit literacy organizations, you can find many different sources for free eBooks online. Older texts no longer under copyright are commonly available, so if you’re studying classic literature, it’s even easier. Here are a few of the many resources out there:

An array of historical books for various grade levels.

  • Ebooks for Students lets you immediately download PDF files of books organized according to grade level and genre.
  • Project Gutenberg is the world’s oldest digital library, founded in 1971 to archive the text of more than 50,000 public-domain books and other literary works. With a vast selection of classic books available in plain text as well as eBook-friendly formats like PDF, EPUB, and MOBI, Project Gutenberg is an invaluable source.
  • Open Library, a project of the nonprofit Internet Archive, is a wiki-style database featuring the full text of more than 1.4 million books made available for digital lending. Open Library collects texts from libraries, user contributions, and even the Library of Congress.
  • Most public libraries digitize their collections and put them online where anyone with a library card can download them onto a phone, iPad, or e-reader.
  • Many public libraries partner with web media platforms like Hoopla or Libby to provide access to books.
  • Schools sometimes partner with reading apps such as Sora.
  • Epic! gives teachers free access to books for kids in Grade 6 and younger.
  • Internet Archive is a non-profit library providing access to millions of books, including free downloads.
  • With the Kindle app you can access many free offerings from Amazon.

Pro tip: If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, take advantage of a 30-day free trial from a website like bookboon or All You Can Books.

4. Make sure you have the right program or app installed on your device. The source you choose will give you guidelines for downloading, installing, and using a compatible system.

5. Download your free eBook. Files will automatically be available to view on an e-reader, PDF reader, or from your download folder.

A teacher looking on as a young student reads an eBook on a tablet

How Adobe can help you manage your eBooks.

Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) is a powerful e-reader program that you can use to download digital books and read them both online and offline. ADE supports EPUB 3, an advanced new eBook format which offers a dynamic set of features for students and educators, including embedded multimedia, interactive quizzes, and improved support for assistive technologies for readers with disabilities.

Students can use Adobe Acrobat Pro to help manage their eBooks and conserve space on their devices. If they’ve received multiple different reading assignments as separate PDF files, students can use the Merge PDF tool to organize them all into the same file. Then they can use the Compress tool to help shrink the size of their eBook files and free up room for other literary works, allowing them to carry even larger libraries wherever they go.

Reading is one of the most important educational activities for students of any age. Through convenience and cost-effectiveness, eBooks ensure that students are never far from good reading material.

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