How to Pirate Ebooks

Friday July 23, 2021

I’ve been reading a lot of books lately, mostly on my Remarkable. I’d usually get books from the library, but getting ebooks from the library means running some annoying and fiddly adobe DRM software in WINE, so I’ve been pirating instead. For a long time, I didn’t know very good ways to get ebooks, so I figured a little guide would be useful for other people who were in that situation.

There are a few different places you can go for ebooks, in the order of how useful I find them:

Z-Library

Z-Library is probably the easiest website to use to download ebooks. Click on the “Books” link on that page, which will take you to the domain for your region. Then type a book name, author name, ISBN, or something else. Books have the format displayed in the search results (usually EPUB, MOBI, or PDF). Click on the result you want, and there’ll be a “download” link. You can download 5 books per day, or 10 if you make a free account. You can pay for an account that will allow you to download more.

As an example, here are the search results and book page.

Library Genesis (libgen)

Libgen is one of the largest and best known libraries of pirated material. The UI is much clunkier than Z-Library, but it tends to have more material, so if I can’t find something on Z-Library, I’ll go to libgen.

When you go to the libgen website, you can enter a search term, and select both what repository (for instance, if you’re looking for a fiction book, select “Fiction”) and what field (title, author, etc) you want to search. Libgen’s search is not very fuzzy, so spelling something slightly wrong, omitting an apostrophe, or similar things can prevent the search from finding what you’re looking for. If you’re having a hard time finding something, try searching for just the author or a small snippet of the title, and then using Ctrl+F in the results page to get what you’re looking for.

Once you’ve found a book, there are several ways to download it, but the easiest is to click on the title of the book, which should be a link to a library.lol URL. Once you’re there, it’ll offer you several different links to download it — I typically use the Cloudflare one, since it that costs Cloudflare moneyThat’s praxis, baby., but any of them will work.

As an example, here are the search results, book page, and download page, and direct PDF link.

Sci-Hub

Sci-Hub has academic papers, rather than standard e-books, but if you’re looking for papers, it’s excellent. You can paste in the DOI of the paper you want, and it’ll (usually) spit out a PDF.

aaaaarg.fail

aaaaarg.fail is a library of papers, books, and other texts, generally on leftist political theory. I find it more useful as a curated place to find political texts, but the things it has can often be hard to find elsewhere. It requires an invitation to download the material, and only allows access to IP addresses outside of North America and the UK, but you can see what it has without needing an invite.

Your Local Library

If you can’t find a book elsewhere, you can try searching in library catalogs for it. It’s a little annoying to get ebooks in useful formats from libraries, and annoying to strip them of DRM, but it can be a good way to get books that aren’t accessible elsewhere. The particular process is different for every library, but usually not to hard too figure out. If you just want to read books on your phone or Android/iOS tablet, and don’t care about removing the DRM that time-limits how long you can read a book for, I recommend the open-source app SimplyE. You can also collect library cards as you travel (NYPL and SFPL are both quite easy to get), which will give you access to a larger collection.

changelog
: Initial post.
: Fix typos.