The internet is brilliant. It makes our lives so much more convenient with things such as online shopping, instant messaging and getting the latest news, weather updates and cheeky celebrity gossip within seconds.
It connects us with people we may never have met otherwise. It also opens the door to tons of other great things (including free debt advice of course).
With the sheer influx of handheld gadgets at our disposal, our appetite for free entertainment has never been greater. Getting free stuff to watch, read and listen to doesn’t require donning your cyber pirate hat though (naughty naughty!).
You can get lots of electro-goodies completely free – and legally. Here’s how…
Where to find free books
We’ve tracked down a couple of great websites where you can download classic and popular ebooks for free. If you can’t bear to abandon the humble paperback, don’t worry! We’ve got that covered too…
1) Aldiko and iBooks
You don’t need to own an e-reader to enjoy ebooks – there are plenty of free e-reader apps you can download for your smartphone or tablet.
One of our favourites for the Android is Aldiko, which not only has a huge database of free fiction and non-fiction titles, but also has an option to read from a blue background with dark grey text to reduce eye strain.
Those of you who use Apple products might want to check out iBooks, an app you can also use to read richly illustrated children’s books as well as their more wordy non-illustrated cousins. You can also use iBooks to highlight a quote or passage you like then share it on Twitter or email to a friend.
This one’s for the e-book hoarder in all of us. You know who you are (hint: I’m one of you). There are more than 29,000 e-books available for most e-readers on ManyBooks.net. Best of all? They’re completely free!
While you’re not likely to find top-selling new releases here, you can get positively knee-deep in classic novels. There’s also a whole wealth of little known publications to get your literary teeth into.
Our friend the paperback is far from dead, old chums. It’s just a shame that most of us simply don’t have the space to surround ourselves with all the books in the world (seriously, does that sound like heaven or what?).
As one of the more popular online bookswapping websites, Bookmooch is definitely worth checking out. Sign up and send off your unwanted books to earn credits which you can then use to get books that you want.
Let’s face it, scouring the internet for free ebooks is time consuming! Bring all that free ebook goodness right to your inbox by signing up to ReadCheaply.
You’ll get a daily email alert with titles you can download from Amazon for free (or very cheap). These can range from self-published works right up to bestsellers, so you’re really in for a mixed bag of downloadable delights!
Where to find free music
Most of us have (or can recall) that one friend who’s so deeply entrenched in the underground music scene they should be halfway to China by now. “That punk-polka-reggae band from Bournemouth? Already got their album, mate. You’ve only just discovered that Welsh choir with the bagpipe and ukulele? Ugh, how last Thursday of you.”
Unlike that obnoxious music-guru friend, streaming website Rdio actually wants to know what music you like right now so it can tailor its recommendations specifically to you. It’ll also tell you about the music tastes of people nearby.
Just when we get done tackling one vexing breed of music-geek, this lot turn up with their insistence that nothing sounds good unless it’s on vinyl. If you also savour the smooth, grooved feeling of an LP balancing precariously in your hands, InSound is the place to go.
But wait, I hear you cry in dismay. Vinyls are not free, you charlatan! You lied! Liiiiiied!
Technically, no, I have not lied. InSounds don’t give vinyl away for free (sadly), but they do have a superb catalogue of free and legal to download MP3s featuring the pick of their vinyl collection. Do treat yourself to a bit of a delve, as there are some absolute gems to be found.
If you’re on the hunt for royalty-free music, then head on over to Jamendo. Their whole catalogue of music is made available through the creative commons license, meaning that the artist themselves want YOU to enjoy their music absolutely free of charge. You can also download the Jamendo app for free for the Android (there’s a Blackberry app too but apparently it has some crashing problems – hopefully the bugs will be worked out soon!).
Those of you who remember the joys of putting together a mixtape for a friend, family member or a crush are gonna love 8tracks. While you can’t download music from here, you can stream literally millions of playlists that have been lovingly put together by mixtape lovers just like you.
Where to find free films
See, this is the big one that invites a whole hotbed of debate – is it really possible to watch films online, for free, without inciting the long arm of the law? Yes dear friends, it is! Here’s how…
If you’re one of the 16 million people in the UK who own a Tesco Clubcard, you’re entitled to unlimited access to films and TV shows via Clubcard TV.
The service is completely free, but you’ll have to watch ads in between each film and TV programme. Tesco says the ads are personalised to things you’re likely to be interested in based on past purchases, so that’s not too bad!
Updated 26/03/2015: The Clubcard.tv service is unfortunately no longer available.
Not everyone’s all about Hollywood blockbusters – maybe you’re hankering for a Russian crime drama, or an epic Bollywood extravaganza? Viewster’s bound to have something more suited to your world-cinema loving palette.
You can enjoy legions of free movies without registering, the only catch being that you’ll have to endure five minutes of adverts per two-hour film. New stuff is being added to Viewster all the time, so check back often!
11) Indie Movies Online
Fancy yourself a bit of a Sundance buff? The best way to keep an eye on film festival up-n-comers is to check out Indie Movies Online. Here you’ll find tons of arthouse pieces that you can watch over and over again for free. You’ll also receive a weekly digest of new films to check out.
12) Short of the Week
Novelist Lorrie Moore once said that ‘a short story is a love affair, where a novel is a marriage’. The same can be said for short films, too. Sometimes a two-hour film is just too much commitment – if only we could get our visual entertainment in neatly tied up, bite-sized chunks.
It turns out, we can. Short of The Week has a whole host of artsy (and not so artsy) short films that can give you a quick cinematic pick-me-up without costing you a penny.
Where do you go to get your free books, films and music? Have you dumped expensive paid-for subscriptions in favour of free sites? Tell us all about it in the comments.