How to Find Free Textbooks Online

The cost of college text books can be overwhelming but you can get some textbooks online for free.

While college is a fantastic way to gain knowledge and valuable skills, it's understood that going to university is expensive, and textbooks can make the bill go even higher. However, you don't have to break the bank to finance a good education; there are plenty of places on the Web where you can find and download free online textbooks for nearly any class available.

Here are sources on the Web you can use to find free content for many college classes, all freely available to either download and print offline or view online in your browser.

You don't have to necessarily be enrolled in an official college class to take advantage of these resources! If you are looking for opportunities to enrich your knowledge, this is a great way to do that. You can also enroll for free in a huge variety of college classes available from reputable universities all around the world. 

*Note: While many college classes and professors are completely fine with students downloading materials for their classes online, it's suggested that students check the class syllabus for approved materials ahead of time, and make sure that the content that is downloaded is compatible with class requirements. 


use google to find free textbooks

The first place to start when looking for a textbook is Google, using the filetype command. Type in filetype:pdf, followed by the name of the book you're looking for in quotes. Here's an example:

filetype:pdf "history of anthropology"

If you don't have any luck with the book's title, try the author (again, surrounded by quotes), or, you can also look for another type of file: PowerPoint (ppt), Word (doc), etc. You'll also want to check Google Scholar, a great place to find all sorts of academic-oriented content. Check out these specific search tips for Google Scholar that will help you drill down to what you're looking for quickly.

Open Culture

open culture

Open Culture, a fascinating repository of some of the best content on the Web, has assembled an ongoing database of free texts ranging in subject from Biology to Physics. This list is updated on a regular basis.

MIT Open Courseware

MIT Open Courseware

MIT has offered free, open courseware for several years now, and along with these free classes comes free college text books. You'll have to search for specific classes and/or titles of books on the site in order to find what you're looking for; overall, there is a lot of free content available here in a wide variety of subjects.

Textbook Revolution

Textbook revolution

Run by students, Textbook Revolution offers free books organized by subject, license, course, collections, topic, and level. Easily searchable with a healthy amount of subject matter available.

Flat World Knowledge

Flat World Knowledge

Flat World Knowledge is an interesting site that offers college and university texts free of charge, mixed with other applicable resources that serve as supplements. All of the books are free to view online within your Web browser.

Online Mathematics Textbooks

math textbooks georgia tech

Professors from the Georgia Institute of Technology have collated an impressive list of online mathematics texts, ranging from calculus to mathematical biology. 



Wikibooks offers a wide variety of free textbooks (more than 2,000 the last time we looked), in subjects from computing to social sciences. 

Free Digital Textbook Initiative

free digital textbooks

From the California Learning Resource Network, the Free Digital Textbook Initiative offers a good selection of free content materials suitable for both high school and college students.



Curriki isn't just about free textbooks, although you can find those at the site. Curriki offers a fantastic array of free educational resources, anything from science kits to novel studies. 


Find free text books online at places liked Scribd.

Scribd is a huge database of user-contributed content. Sometimes you can get lucky and find full textbooks here; type in the name of your book into the search field and hit "enter". For example, one search found a full text about quantum physics mechanics. 

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg offers a wide selection of over 50,000 texts at the time of this writing, with more available through their partner websites. Browse through their categories, search for something specifically, or take a look at their entire catalog. 



ManyBooks gives users the ability to search within a catalog of over 30,000 books, as well as genres, authors, publication dates, and more. 

Online Library of Liberty


 The Online Library of Liberty offers a wide variety of scholarly works about individual liberty and free markets. Over 1,700 individual titles are available here. 

Amazon Textbooks

Amazon Textbooks

 While not free, you can find some pretty amazing deals – way better than your campus bookstore – on college textbooks at Amazon



Bookboon offers a wide variety of free textbooks here; you will need to give your email address to this site in order to download anything, and will receive a weekly update of new books and additions to the site. Premium access is also available for a fee. 


GetFreeBooks offers a wide variety of free ebooks in a good selection of categories, anywhere from marketing to short stories. 

Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources

OER Consortium

 The Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources is simply laid out, giving users the ability to search within selected subject areas for free textbooks. 



 OpenStax, a service offered by Rice University, offers access to high quality textbooks for both K-12 and university students. This project was initially kicked off for college students by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Reddit User Submissions

reddit free textbooks

Reddit has a subreddit dedicated to sharing what textbooks the user might have (and is willing to share), as well as those looking for textbooks and needing help locating them online.