How to download and read ebooks on your phone for free

Save a tree and read an ebook! Joking aside, ebooks are more convenient than paper books and a hundred could fit in your pocket. A phone makes a great ebook reader. Here’s how to add them.

Both iPhones and Android phones make great ebook readers and are equally good at downloading ebooks and presenting them on the screen for you to read. The main convenience of ebooks is that they occupy no physical space or weight. You would not want to take 10 bulky paper books with you on a holiday or a trip because of the weight and size, but adding 10 or even 100 ebooks to your phone adds nothing. No size or weight at all.

Today’s phones have big high resolution screens and some of the biggest phones are actually the same size as a paperback book, so a page of text looks very similar to the real thing. A major advantage however, is that you can adjust the color scheme, like black text on white background or white text on black background.

The font type, size, line spacing and margins of ebooks can easily be adjusted so the text is comfortable to read, which is useful if your vision is not perfect.

There are many sources of ebooks and they can be bought from Amazon, Apple, Google and other places. However, I will use a free source of ebooks: Standard Ebooks: Free and liberated ebooks, carefully produced for the true book lover. Many of the books at this website are classics that are out of copyright, so are free to download and read. If you like old classic books, this is a great website to get them from.

1 ebooks on the web

Standard Ebooks website with free ebooks

Open a web browser like Safari on the iPhone or Chrome on an Android phone and go to (don’t mistype it and go to standardbooks, it is standardebooks). Press the EBOOKS link to go to the library of books on the website.

2 Search and filter books

Search and filter ebooks at the Standard Ebooks website

On the next page you can search for keywords, choose the sort order, select the view and the number of items per page. I left Keywords blank, set the Sort to new -> old, set View to List and the maximum number of items per page. It’s up to you though.

3 Browse the ebooks

Browsing ebooks at the Standard Ebooks website

The ebooks are listed in compact view with each one having a picture of the cover and brief details about it, like the number of words, reading difficulty and genre. Scroll through and when you see one you like, tap the cover image.

4 View and download options

Download free ebooks at the Standard Ebooks website

The next page has a detailed description of the book and if you swipe up to get to the bottom of the page, there are several download options. The first one, Compatible epub, is the one to choose if you are going to read the ebook on your phone. Press the link to download the file to your device.

Download confirmation message

Don’t worry about the file size because even very large books are tiny. Text-only books like novels are typically a few hundred k and you have many of GBs of space on your phone.

5 Open the downloaded file

What you need to do now is to open the downloaded .epub file and this is where iPhones and Android phones differ slightly. Not much though. On an iPhone, open the Files app and go to the iCloud > Downloads folder.

Downloaded files on the iPhone in the iCloud Downloads folder

The ebook is there among your downloads and tapping the file opens it in the app associated with .epub files, which is Apple Books. You can then select and read the book in the app.

When a file is downloaded on an Android phone, there is a notification. Pull down from the top of the screen to see this.

A file download notification on an Android phone

All you need to do is to tap the notification and it opens the .epub file in the associated app, which is Google Play Books on an Android phone. The ebook is added to your Library under Your Books > Uploads.

ebooks in Google Play Books on an Android phone

Instead of tapping the notification on an Android phone, you could open the My Files app and then open the Downloads folder or whatever file browser your Android phone provides. Find the file and tap it to import it into Google Play Books.

Standard Ebooks is a great source of classic ebooks and as you can see, it is very easy to download them to your phone and add them to Apple Books or Google Play Books apps. Now you can read a book anywhere, anytime you have a few minutes to spare.

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