German learners who enjoy reading a good book can benefit greatly from reading German literature. Reading books in a foreign language is a natural and fun way of improving vocabulary and phraseology but also learning about the history and culture of the nation whose language you are trying to learn. This is particularly true for book lovers because they can combine their passion for books and reading with learning the German language. It should not be too difficult to find a German author and a genre that suits your taste. Alternatively, you can read the works of your favourite international authors translated into German.
Finding a good German book is easy and will not cost you a penny if you use free eBooks that can be downloaded from the Internet. The most common file formats include pdf, txt and plain html as well as epub and mobi (Kindle). Most devices will not have any problems opening the pdf, txt or html files. However, for epub and mobi formats you will need special readers (e.g., Cool Reader for reading epub files and Kindle reader for mobi and azw files; see amazon.de below for more information) that can be downloaded from the web for free to your PC or portable device. Many websites also allow you to read their eBooks online. There are numerous resources on the web that offer thousands of free German eBooks. To help you navigate through these resources we prepared a list of the most popular and convenient websites for downloading free German language eBooks.
The Top Websites for Downloading German eBooks
- Gutenberg.org is a project named after Johannes Gutenberg, the German inventor of movable-type mechanical printing. It is a database of more than fifty-two thousand free downloadable eBooks, many of them in German. You can read the books online or download them in the epub, mobi (supported by the Amazon Kindle reader suitable for mobile devices) or plain html formats. Alternatively, you can read these eBooks online also at Spiegel.de.
- LeseLupe.de is a huge collection of German stories and poetry (seventy thousand literature works) from four thousand German writers. Once you have chosen the work you wish to download look for eBook icons at the bottom of the page. Downloads are available in pdf, epub and mobi (Kindle) formats.
- Archive.org maintains a global Internet library containing archived copies of more than ten million books and texts. There are more than one hundred thousand eBooks in German. You can choose from a variety of download format options, e.g. pdf, epub, mobi (Kindle) and others.
- OpenLibrary.org offers more than 1,500 free German language eBooks written by German authors as well as translations from foreign languages published between 1459 and 2013. Free downloads are available in various formats including pdf, epub, mobi, plain text and some others.
- Amazon.de has a list of top 100 gratis Kindle eBooks for each book category, most of them being German eBooks. Use the left-hand menu to choose from dozens of available categories. Alternatively, you can use this link for free German literary classics. In order to download and read Kindle eBooks you will need a free customer account with amazon.de as well as a free Kindle reading app that you can download here. There are different Kindle reading apps for desktops, iPods/iPads and smartphones, so you will need to download applications separately to each of your devices.
- BookRix.com promotes independent writers who can publish and distribute their eBooks through this platform and earn royalties. Fortunately, many of the eBooks at BookRix are free. You can read them online or download them (as most of them have a free download version) in epub format that works on most desktops, tablets and smartphones. Most of the free German eBooks published at this platform are original works, though some have been translated into German from other languages.
- SternchenLand.com has more than 5,500 free German eBooks that you can download in the pdf, epub or azw (for Kindle reader) formats. You can read downloaded eBooks virtually on any device including desktop PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones or print out hard copies.
- LoyalBooks.com contains more than 700 free German eBooks and more than 400 free German audio books. Make sure you choose either eBooks or audio books on the top tab. You can read eBooks online in your browser (no need to install anything), or you can download them in either epub or mobi (for Kindle reader) format. Likewise, you can listen to the audios online or download zipped mp3 files.
- ManyBooks.net is an Internet library of books in digital format, having around 650 German eBooks available for free download . They can be downloaded in many different formats, including pdf, or you can read them online if you wish.
- Zulu-eBooks.com contains nearly 700 free eBooks from German and international authors (all in German language) that can be downloaded for free in either pdf, epub or mobi formats.
- Beam-eBooks.de is a commercial eBook shop that also offers around 600 free German eBooks in epub and mobi (Kindle) formats while some are also available as pdfs. However, you will need to register (registration is free) in order to make use of this free offer.
- ChildrensBooksForEver.com offers beautifully illustrated children’s stories written by Hans Wilhelm. The author made the out-of-print editions of his books available at his website for free download (pdf format) for non-commercial use.
- FeedBooks.com is an eBook seller of mostly English titles where you can also download about 200 public domain as well as original German eBooks in the epub format (no registration is necessary). Use this link for original eBooks. In order to find German eBooks choose a category and then look for the link labelled “German” at the bottom of the left-hand menu to select German titles.
- eBook.de is yet another commercial eBook store that also offers free downloads of more than 200 German titles in the epub format. However, you will need to register (it is free) and make a purchase (no payment is required for free eBooks).
- MobileRead.com is an eBook reader forum where you can find thousands of free, mostly English language eBooks. However, there are also around 2,500 eBooks in German language that can be downloaded for free as epub files (some are also available in mobi and pdf formats).
- NeoBooks.com is a distribution network that enables young independent authors to publish their works for free so that they can catch the attention of the public and earn royalties. There are also more than 150 free downloadable German language eBooks (epub format).
- Ngiyaw-eBooks.org enables you to download free eBooks from hundreds of German authors listed alphabetically in different file formats such as pdf, epub, mobi and azw3 for Kindle reader. Please note that not all of the eBooks are available in all of these formats.
- Literature.at is a digital library that stores more than sixteen thousand free eBooks with most of them related to Austria and its history. Besides free eBooks, you can also find old manuscripts, illustrations, newspapers and magazines in this library. They can be read online or downloaded as pdf files. If you choose any eBook, it will open in your browser. Click on the “i” icon and look for the pdf download link at the bottom of the page. Unfortunately, this website does not seem to work well in some versions of IE.
- Digbib.org is a small collection of German eBooks that are available for free download in pdf, txt or html formats. You can find there works from Franz Kafka, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Heinrich Heine as well William Shakespeare (in German).
- Plough.com is a platform of an independent publishing house offering a free collection of 28 German eBooks mostly on religious themes. They are downloadable in pdf format. You will need to provide your name and email address to receive the download link.
This is a comprehensive list of relevant Internet resources offering free German eBooks to satisfy every taste. If you do not want to bother with registering accounts or installing special eBook readers there are enough resources that do not require registration and offer familiar formats to choose from. The important thing is to find books that suit your interests while their language is not way above your skill level. Remember, you must have fun reading the book to absorb the language subconsciously.