What is best e-book sites

Download, buy, convert e-books for free Update

With an e-book reader, you can not just buy e-books that are subject to a fee via the provider's shop. There are also hundreds of free e-books and many other ways to get new content onto your Kindle, Kobo, or Tolino.

Kindle vs. Epub (Tolino, Kobo, etc.)

When downloading e-books - regardless of whether they are free, bought or borrowed - you generally have to pay attention to whether the format fits your reader. The Kindle understands Mobi, AZW and PDF: Usually you download books from Amazon's Kindle shop yourself, but some other shops and download portals also offer Mobi or PDF. With PDFs, however, you have to look carefully: PDFs are often provided with Adobe DRM copy protection; then they are not compatible with the Kindle.

The other e-book readers (Tolino, Kobo, Pocketbook, Bookeen, etc.) use the Epub format and also use PDF (both with or without Adobe copy protection). This is a great advantage when choosing, because almost all shops and download portals offer these formats. We have listed which shop supports which formats in the following table.

Shops / portals / rental services Offer for Kindle Offer for Kobo, Tolino and Co.
beam eBooks Mobi, PDF Epub, PDF
buecher.de –¹ Epub, PDF (partly Adobe DRM)
Ciando –¹
Epub, PDF (partly Adobe DRM)
ebook.de –¹
Epub, PDF (partly Adobe DRM)
Feedbooks Mobi, PDF Epub, PDF (partly Adobe DRM)
Gutenberg.org Mobi, PDF Epub, PDF
Hugendubel –¹
Epub, PDF (partly Adobe DRM)
Kindle Shop Mobi, AZW3
Kindle Unlimited Mobi, AZW3
Kobo –¹
Epub, PDF (partly Adobe DRM)
ELibrary Epub, PDF (Adobe DRM)
Thalia –¹
Epub, PDF (partly Adobe DRM)
worldview –¹
Epub, PDF (partly Adobe DRM)
Zulu eBooks Mobi, PDF Epub, PDF
¹ only a few PDFs without DRM

Download free e-books

Sources for free e-books

You can download e-books free of charge from these pages

Dozens of websites offer free e-books - completely legally. There are several reasons for this: Many older works are in the public domain and can be used free of charge and thus also distributed. On the other hand, some authors put some of their books on the web for free - for example to attract attention. You can download these books via your PC and then transfer them to the reader by connecting it to the PC via USB.

The best source for public domain works is this Project Gutenberg. Over 50,000 free e-books are available on this website, including various in German. The German-language books include, for example, works by Goethe, Thomas Mann and Jules Verne. E-books at Project Gutenberg are usually available for Kindle, as well as Epub documents for Tolino and other readers. Often, however, these texts are hardly adapted to e-book formats and therefore do not look particularly beautiful. The portal is therefore an interesting alternative Feedbooksthat has made free e-books more attractive. Also on the websiteZulu ebooksthere are many e-books formatted for Kindle and other readers. Tip: English-language works often contain the German and English text, so that you can use them to improve your English skills. Another good source for English-language e-books: the e-book portal mobileread.com.

Kindle users can also find the Kindle store Hundreds of free books, as well as competing stores from Thalia, Weltbild, ebook.de and other free EPUB documents for download directly to the reader or via the websites.

There are also contemporary authors who are giving away their books in digital form. A prominent example is the Canadian Cory Doctorow, who makes most of his books available on his website under a Creative Commons license.

Some websites also list various bestsellers completely free of charge that actually cost 5 euros, 10 euros or even more elsewhere. Such downloads are almost always illegal. You should avoid such sites because there are often Trojans and other malicious software hidden in the ZIP files with supposed bestsellers.

Borrow e-books, e-book flat rates

You can also borrow e-books or obtain them at a flat rate for a fixed monthly price. The most popular rental service in Germany is called ELibrary: The provider cooperates with hundreds of libraries. In order to borrow books with Onleihe, you must have a membership card at one of these libraries. Onleihe lists which libraries offer this on its website.

Lending is linked to artificial restrictions: e-books expire after a certain period of time and can no longer be read. In addition, each library only has a limited contingent of loan e-books: An e-book can just as easily be already loaned out as a paper book. Onleihe is only compatible with Epub and Adobe DRM and can therefore not be used on Kindle.

Flat rates work differently: Here you pay a fixed monthly price and can then read a certain range of e-books. The best known flat rate is Kindle Unlimited from Amazon: It only works with readers or apps from Amazon and costs 10 euros a month. Amazon states that there are more than a million e-books and 2000 audiobooks available. However, the number hides the fact that most bestsellers and popular e-books cannot be read via the flat rate. In other words: You get an awful lot of reading material, but almost certainly not exactly the book you would like to read next.

The flat rate of is significantly better in terms of bestsellers Skoobe equipped, which also costs 10 euros. Apart from a special edition of the Icarus Illumina reader, however, it is not compatible with e-book readers: you need a smartphone or tablet with Android or iOS to read it. The same applies Readfy: The service is only available for Android and iOS and, unlike Skoobe, is financed by advertising: Instead of charging a monthly fee, Readfy repeatedly shows advertising banners within the e-books. To use Readfy you have to be connected to the internet.

Buy German e-books

Almost all e-book readers have an integrated shop through which German-language e-books can be obtained. You can also buy e-books on your PC in other shops. With the Kindle, you have to make sure that the shop offers the download of Mobi files. Beam eBooks, for example, have such e-books, but most portals do not offer the Mobi format.

With Epub readers such as Tolino, Kobo or Pocketbook, the selection of shops is larger. Thalia, Weltbild, Hugendubel, ebook.de, Ciando, Kobo, Beam eBooks and many other portals sell e-books as Epub. If you have bought an Epub on your PC, you can transfer it to your e-book reader via USB. If the e-book is provided with Adobe DRM as copy protection, you must first download PC software with DRM support, for example Adobe Digital Editions. Log in there with the same Adobe account as on the e-book reader, download the book and then transfer it to the reader.

The selection is similar in most shops: At Amazon, Thalia, ebook.de, for example, you should get most of the digital reading material available in Germany. As a rule, there are no different prices between the portals, because fixed book prices prevail in Germany: e-books have to be the same price everywhere. There are exceptions, however: Public domain works offered by different publishers, for example, often have different prices from free to a few euros, and there are occasional discounts.

Buy English e-books

Amazon currently has the largest range of English-language books. For the Kindle you get a particularly large number of e-books in English, and English-language e-books are often a bit cheaper there than at the competition.

For books in Epub format, there are big differences in English-language material between the shops. If you can't find what you are looking for in your shop, you should try the download area in the Kobo Shop. This provider offers a particularly large number of English-language Epub books.

Where can I find e-books without DRM?

Paid e-books are often provided with copy protection. Many publishers are increasingly relying on watermarks instead of hard DRM methods. This has the advantage that you can open the e-books without account data and that they are easier to convert into other formats. You can almost always tell which form of copy protection a book contains when you buy the book.

Hard copy protection for both Amazon (Kindle DRM) and Epub books (Adobe DRM) links the book to the user's account and restricts use to a few devices. In general, you cannot lend, resell, print, or use a copy-protected book on compatible devices. Converting for another reader is only possible if you remove the copy protection - which is not allowed. On the other hand, you can use watermarked e-books more freely, they only contain a reference to the owner in the book - so the publisher can find out where a copy of a book originally came from.

You should therefore pay particular attention to information on format and copy protection in the shop. This is particularly difficult with the Kindle: e-books without copy protection are sometimes marked with the sentence "Simultaneous use of devices: no restriction", but sometimes not. Here you have to assume that an unmarked book contains tough copy protection measures.

In the following series of images we show how you can recognize copy protection in the various e-book shops.

Convert e-books for Kindle

Anyone who has bought an e-book in Epub format or downloaded it from a free source can - quite legally - convert it for Kindle in just a few steps. The prerequisite is that the e-book does not have any hard copy protection measures such as Adobe DRM.

The easiest way to do this is with the two Windows tools provided by Amazon Kindle Previewer and KindleGen. Simply put the desired epub files in the same directory as kindlegen.exe and run them on the command line

kindlegen filename.epub -o filename.mobi

out. Then connect your Kindle to your PC via USB and load the document with the ending "Mobi" into the "documents" folder. When generating the file, the converter usually warns of problems with layout specifications in the Epub; this is not a problem in itself, but you have to take into account that the files created on the Kindle may differ optically from the original in some places. The Kindle Previewer is based in principle on KindleGen, but also offers a graphical interface and a preview mode for the converted books.

If you would like to have more intervention options when converting, it is better to use the all-round tool Caliber. The software for Windows, Mac and Linux is not exactly user-friendly, but it can handle dozens of formats, includes an e-book viewer and allows you to adapt styles or remove unnecessary elements from the book using search and replace when converting. It can even be used to synchronize a local library with the e-book reader.

Simply import the desired e-book into Caliber and right-click on the book and select "Convert books / Convert individually". In the following dialog you choose "Mobi" or "AZW3" as the target format. In the left bar you can still make adjustments to metadata or formatting. The finished book is in the Caliber document folder; The quickest way to find it is to click on "Open storage location" in the right-click dialog.

Or you can transfer the book to the Kindle within Caliber: If the book is in the wrong format, the software can even automatically convert the book into a compatible file, if desired.

Convert e-books for Tolino, Kobo and Co.

The Caliber tool described above can also convert the other way round: Mobi and AZW3 files that are free of copy protection can be converted to EPUB just as quickly. In this case, too, import the book into Caliber and select "Convert books / Convert individually". In the following dialog, however, simply use "Epub" as the target format.

Manage e-books with caliber

Caliber is not only good for converting books, but is also a great management software for e-books. The program interface of Caliber is not particularly nice, but offers dozens of setting options and hidden useful tools, for example to prepare texts from the network for readers.

If the bar above is too cluttered for you, you can adjust it using the "User Interface / Toolbars" item in the settings. The buttons on the bar provide the most important functions: Here you can add or remove books from the library, edit their metadata, convert them to other formats and preview them on the screen. The “Get books” button provides a search function for the online shops of various booksellers and also provides information on whether the book in question has copy protection (DRM). A double click on the hit leads directly to the respective online shop.

Free offers such as Project Gutenberg mentioned above are also recorded. You can search your own library using the search field in the Caliber window. Frequently required search queries can be saved for later using the adjacent button. Use the bar on the left to filter the library for almost all information from the metadata. The button at the top left groups books together in so-called virtual libraries - for example, all unread titles. A sidebar on the right shows detailed information about a book when it is highlighted.

Using the "Get news" button, Caliber can automatically retrieve the RSS feeds from various international online media according to a set schedule and convert them into an e-book. This also works with paid content, for example from daily newspapers, provided that Caliber knows the respective access data.

With Caliber, you can not only transfer your e-books to your e-book reader, but also to smartphones and tablets. If you want to browse the Caliber library on your PC from your smartphone or tablet, you should get the Caliber Companion Android app recommended by the Caliber project, which is available for 3.25 euros on Google Play and the Amazon App Store .

If Caliber is running on a PC in the local network, it can also make the digital book collection accessible to other computers and devices in the LAN. To do this, start the "content server" via "Connect / Share", which then offers a website in the local network for searching the library. Books can be downloaded here individually. For example, if the local IP address is, the library can then be accessed in the browser at Some Kindle models have problems with port 8080, then you have to adjust this in the caliber settings under "Network server". Access to the library can also be restricted here with a password. This method is particularly suitable for quickly transferring individual e-books to any reading device that has network access and a browser.

Additional functions, for example for creating reading lists or managing audio books, can be easily retrofitted in Caliber with plug-ins. To do this, open the "Extensions" item in the settings and either install an already downloaded plug-in from the hard drive or browse the directory using the "Obtain new extensions" button. The plug-ins provide access to further information on the web, count pages, edit cover images, split or merge e-books and much more. It also makes it easier to clean out duplicates.The extensions are maintained by other developers than Caliber itself; they can contain errors and it is worthwhile to first check the forum page, which can be accessed via the context menu of a list entry, for information from other users. (acb)