Building a Catholic eBook Library on the Cheap

Kindle

I recently listed the best Catholic books of all-time as named in Fr. John McCloskey's 'Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan.' All the links I provided were to paperback and hardcover books, which tend to be somewhat expensive.

But one of the things I've discovered since getting an Amazon Kindle is that you can find so many Catholic classics in eBook format either for free or for fairly cheap.

Before I received a Kindle for my birthday, I had been saving up to purchase the five-volume, hardcover set of St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica (current Amazon price: $245!) But after I received a Kindle I was thrilled to discover that you can get the entire Summa--in digital, searchable format--for only $0.99 in the Kindle Store. The savings from that purchase alone covered the cost of my Kindle.

So I decided to see how cheaply you could build a solid, Catholic eBook library. I quickly found that more than 60 books from the 'Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan' are available in Kindle format, and many were cheap or free! From there I browsed through the millions of books in Amazon's Kindle store and found many other low-priced Catholic classics. I thought it would be a big help to other eBook fans to list out the best buys in one location, so here you go.

Before you read the lists, though, three things should be noted. First, I've only included the Kindle versions of each eBook. Many titles are available in other eBook formats like ".epub" at similar or lower prices. But since the Kindle format is the most popular, I decided to link to that.

Second, you don't necessarily need a Kindle to read these eBooks (though it does make the e-reading experience more enjoyable). Amazon provides free programs which let you view Kindle eBooks on your PC, Mac, smartphone, iPhone, iPad, or other device all for free.

Finally, the cheaper an eBook costs, the more likely it is to have formatting issues, textual errors, or a missing table of contents. A good rule of thumb is that the cheaper an eBook costs, the more problems you'll find.

Most eBooks are available in different versions at different prices (e.g. free, $0.99, $1.99, etc.) and for many titles the free versions are excellent. But for others, it's worth paying a couple extra dollars for better quality. The best way to determine which version to get is to download a free sample of each and determine which is best.

With all that said, on with the lists!


Catholic Lifetime Reading Plan eBooks

FREE - Benson, Robert Hugh - Lord of the World
FREE - Chesterton, G.K. - Orthodoxy
FREE - de Caussade, Jean - Abandonment to Divine Providence
FREE - de Cervantes, Miguel - Don Quixote
FREE - Newman, John Henry - Apologia Pro Vita Sua
FREE - Newman, John Henry - Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine
FREE - Newman, John Henry - The Idea of a University
FREE - Sienkiewicz, Henryk - Quo Vadis
FREE - Thérèse of Lisieux, St. - Story of a Soul
$0.95 - Augustine, St. - The City of God
$0.99 - THE HOLY BIBLE (Douay-Rheims Version)
$0.99 - A'Kempis, Thomas - The Imitation of Christ
$0.99 - Alighieri, Dante - The Divine Comedy
$0.99 - Aquinas, St. Thomas - Summa Theologica
$0.99 - Augustine, St. - Confessions
$0.99 - Catherine of Genoa, St. - A Treatise on Purgatory
$0.99 - Catherine of Siena, St. - Little Talks with God
$0.99 - Chesterton, G.K. - St. Thomas Aquinas: The Dumb Ox 
$0.99 - John of the Cross, St. - Dark Night of the Soul
$0.99 - Liguori, Alphonso - Uniformity with God's Will
$0.99 - Manzoni, Alessandro - The Betrothed
$0.99 - Teresa of Avila, St. - Interior Castle
$1.99 - de Sales, St. Francis - Treatise on the Love of God
$1.99 - Teresa of Avila, St. - The Way of Perfection
$2.25 - de Montfort, Louis-Marie - True Devotion to Mary
$2.95 - Martinez, Luis - True Devotion to the Holy Spirit
$2.99 - Chesterton, G.K. - St. Francis of Assisi
$2.99 - de Sales, St. Francis - Introduction to the Devout Life
$5.99 - Scupoli, Lorenzo - Spiritual Combat
$6.36 - Escriva, Jose Maria - Christ is Passing By
$6.36 - Escriva, Jose Maria - Friends of God
$6.36 - Escriva, Jose Maria - The Way
$6.36 - Escriva, Jose Maria - The Furrow
$6.36 - Escriva, Jose Maria - The Forge
$6.98 - Chesterton, G.K. - The Everlasting Man
$7.16 - Escriva, Jose Maria - The Way of the Cross
$7.79 - Eliot, T.S. - Christianity and Culture 
$7.95 - Sheen, Fulton - Three to Get Married
$9.68 - Waugh, Evelyn - Brideshead Revisited
$9.89 - Percy, Walker - Lost in the Cosmos
$9.89 - Percy, Walker - Love in the Ruins
$9.99 - Bernanos, George - The Diary of a Country Priest 
$9.99 - Boylan, Eugene - This Tremendous Lover
$9.99 - Hahn, Scott - Rome Sweet Home
$9.99 - Lewis, C.S. - Mere Christianity
$9.99 - Lewis, C.S. - The Problem of Pain
$9.99 - Lewis, C.S. - The Screwtape Letters
$9.99 - Rice, Charles - 50 Questions on the Natural Law
$9.99 - Sheed, Frank - Theology and Sanity
$9.99 - Teresa, Bl. Mother - Meditations from a Simple Path
$9.99 - von Hildebrand, Dietrich - Transformation in Christ
$12.99 - Undset, Sigrid - Kristin Lavransdatter I: The Wreath
$12.99 - Undset, Sigrid - Kristin Lavransdatter II : The Wife
$12.99 - Undset, Sigrid - Kristin Lavransdatter III: The Cross
$13.99 - Sheen, Fulton - Life of Christ
$14.99 - Crocker III, H.W. - Triumph
$14.99 - Weigel, George - Witness to Hope
$18.98 - Newman, John Henry - Parochial and Plain Sermons
$18.99 - Tolkien, J.R.R. - The Lord of the Rings


More Free or Cheap Catholic eBooks

FREE - Chesterton, G.K. - What's Wrong With the World
FREE - Chesterton, G.K. - Eugenics and Other Evils
FREE - More, St. Thomas - Utopia
$0.99 - Anselm, St. - Book of Meditations and Prayers
$0.99 - Anselm, St. - Proslogium and Monologium
$0.99 - Athanasius, St. - On the Incarnation
$0.99 - Aquinas, St. Thomas - Summa Contra Gentiles
$0.99 - Augustine, St. - Handbook on Faith, Hope, and Love
$0.99 - Augustine, St. - On Grace and Free Will
$0.99 - Bernard of Clairvaux, St. - On Loving God
$0.99 - Benedict, St. - The Holy Rule of St. Benedict 
$0.99 - Bonaventure, St. - The Journey of the Mind Into God
$0.99 - Chesterton, G.K. - Heretics
$0.99 - Early Christians - The Didache
$0.99 - Francis de Sales, St - Treatise on the Love of God
$0.99 - Gregory the Great, Pope St. - Saint Benedict
$0.99 - Ignatius of Loyola, St. - Spiritual Exercises
$0.99 - Julian of Norwich, St. - Revelations of Divine Love
$0.99 - Lawrence, Brother - Practice of the Presence of God
$0.99 - Leo XIII, Pope - Rerum Novarum
$1.00 - Pascal, Blaise - Pensées
$1.99 - Anselm, St. - The Devotions of St. Anselm
$1.99 - Chesterton, G.K. - The Catholic Church and Conversion
$1.99 - Chesterton, G.K. - The Innocence of Fr. Brown
$1.99 - Chesterton, G.K. - The Wisdom of Fr. Brown
$1.99 - Ugolino, Brother - The Little Flowers of St. Francis
$2.25 - Butler, Alban - Lives of the Saints
$2.99 - Anonymous - The Cloud of Unknowing
$2.99 - Aquinas, St. Thomas - Catena Aurea-Gospel of Mark
$2.99 - Aquinas, St. Thomas - Catena Aurea-Gospel of Matthew
$2.99 - Aquinas, St. Thomas - Catena Aurea-Gospel of Luke
$2.99 - Augustine, St. - On Christian Doctrine
$2.99 - Chesterton, G.K. - The Man Who Was Thursday
$2.99 - John of the Cross, St. - Ascent of Mount Carmel
$2.99 - Rose, Devin - If Protestantism Is True
$2.99 - Teresa of Avila, St. - The Life of St. Teresa of Jesus
$2.99 - Thérèse of Lisieux, St. - Poems of St. Teresa
$3.99 - Aquinas, St. Thomas - Catena Aurea-Gospel of John


Catholic Publishers Offering Cheap Catholic eBooks

 

Update #1: Another great source for free Catholic eBooks--though you won't be able to download them to a Kindle--is the fantastic Why I Am Catholic Bookshelf. Frank Weathers over at the Why I Am Catholic blog has culled over 850 eBooks into this great collection. Check it out!

Update #2: In addition to my original list of the best Catholic books, I have another follow-up post where I list more of the best Catholic books and eBooks.
 
 

 
  • http://acatholicreader.blogspot.com/ Lisa Nicholas

    There is a 99 cent edition of Frank Sheed's Theology and Sanity: http://amzn.to/1gB6sm1

    • Athanasius

      Check out Lex De Leon Publishing in Amazon Kindle Store. They are all 99c and old classics.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robertrcassman Robert Cassman

    Google books has an almost endless supply of free "scanned" books. The one I have on my tablet now: The Glories and Privileges of St. Joseph, A Short History of the Papacy, The Mass and Vestments of the Catholic Church, City of God, Little Manual of the Sacred Heart, The Sinners Guide, The Life of Saint Pius V, Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, The Golden Manual, History of thr Council of Trent, The History of thr Heresiea, Mystical City of God, Pictorial Lives of thr Saints, Introduction to the Devout Life......

  • http://evangelizela.com/ Ricky Jones

    Brandon, thanks for sharing this list. I just finished reading Benson's "Lord of the World" last night and I loved it. The only fiction I've read in years.

  • Grdnsouthern

    Hi Maria - You can get daily Mass readings and all of the hours of the Liturgy of the Hours on the internet - google Universalis. There are also sights where you can access the CCC indexed and various encyclicals and other documents from the Holy See. I access all of these on my Kindle (3G) and have obtained very many of the great spiritual classics with fine navigation. Also, you can download many Iganatius Press books from Amazon onto your Kindle.

    Let me know if you want more details.

  • Maria

    I have a question for Brandon or anyone else who may know. I'm thinking of getting an e-ink reader... possibly a kindle 3?? I welcome recommendations. I am a lay missionary and would like to have the books I read more compact. I have the ipieta app on my android phone, which has some GREAT books. But can I download an app on any e-ink reader?? I also have downloaded the Mystical City of God by Maria of Agreda onto my PC free, but would I be able to download that onto my kindle, etc?? It is in adobe acrobat format?
    I would also like to have the Divine Office. Is this easily able to be downloaded? Would I do it weekly? I pray the 4 volumne.
    Thanks so much for any help. I'm very new to all of this.
    Maria

    • http://evangelizela.com/ Ricky Jones

      Maria I use Kindle and it's great. You can get many of the classics for free and you can also download your own files onto it. So your PDF, DOC, etc can be read on the Kindle. There are also monthly subscriptions that automatically download for you each month. I would definitely recommend the Kindle.

      • Maria

        thanks much Ricky :)... what kindle to you have?

        • http://evangelizela.com/ Ricky Jones

          I have the Kindle Touch that came out last year right before Christmas.

  • http://www.catholicyouthminister.wordpress.com/ Edmund J Mitchell

    Hey Brandon,
    Project Gutenberg has thousands of free books, and probably close to a hundred of them are Catholic classics. I spent an evening downloading about 25 free Catholic spiritual classics for my friend onto his ipad. They have almost all of Chesterton, Story of a Soul, Ascent of Mount Carmel, some Newman, and tons more. It's all free to download too.

    The only drawback is I haven't found a way to browse the Catholic books, you have to know what you are looking for and search for it manually to check if they have it.

    Check it out:
    http://www.gutenberg.org/

    +JMJ
    God Bless

  • Wolf Paul

    Brandon,

    The link to the "Compendium" is no longer valid.

    Wolf Paul

    • http://www.brandonvogt.com/ Brandon Vogt

      Oops! Thanks for the heads up.

  • Leaella Shirley

    For those who want to read Kristen Lavransdattar, there is a Kindle edition of the entire trilogy for $18.99. http://www.amazon.com/Kristin-Lavransdatter-Penguin-Classics-ebook/dp/B002GEDEKG/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1

  • Grdnsouthern

    Hello Fr Joseph. If you go to Home Page, click menu, then experimental, then launch browser you access the internet. There are many fine Catholic sources but here are some exceptional ones which you can bookmark simply by clicking menu and bookmarks once you access the net:

    St Charles Borromeo Catholic Church
    Catholic Encyclopedia
    Papal encyclicals - exhaustive!Vat.Ecum.Council II - Table of Contents
    Universalis - all the hours of Divine Office daily plus Mass readings

    Ignatius Press Plain and Parochial Sermons of Bl J H Newman and Collected Works of St John of the Cross are wonderful value and I don't think mentioned above.

    I have just bought the Logos CCC etc for $49.90 and it is brilliantly put together. I am using it with Ignatius Press Companion to the CCC which I bought on Amazon.

    What wonderful resouorces for the new evangelization.

    Happy reading!

    Gordon

  • Bill Meyer

    As to .epub vs. .mobi, there's no need to pick and choose. Just get Calibre (free) and convert from one to the other. Also note that many of the titles on Amazon can be had for free from Gutenberg.org. Finally, in many cases, the free and very cheap volumes on Amazon have problems. The main one I have seen is the deletion of indented and italicized quotes from the originals. So if you're reading along, and something seems off, it may well be.

  • Victoria

    I would much prefer to read a real book but postage to Australia makes any book very expensive and so I took adavantage of the free Kindle for PC. I have recently purchased Bede's Ecclestiastical History and Cardinal Gibbon's Faith of Our Fathers for under one dollar each.

  • Brandon Vogt

    Melissa: I personally haven't downloaded the LotH yet, but you might consider this link from Universalis:

    http://www.universalis.com/n-ebooks.htm

    I don't see anything in the Kindle store, though. I know the iPad has a wonderful, cheap, easy to use app for that, but the Kindle is a little behind the curve.

  • Melissa G

    I've heard you can download the Liturgy of the Hours on a Kindle. Do you know anyone who has done this and how it works?

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    THE CATECHISM OF THE COUNCIL OF TRENT IS AVAILBLE FOR 1.99.

  • Anonymous

    Don't forget Clementine Vulgate for $0.99.

  • The Masked Chicken

    Prof. Alvin Plantigna's, Christian Classics Ethereal Library, CCEL, should be a first stop in anyone looking for general Christian Literature. It includes many Catholic sources, as well.

    There are also many other sources of free literature which informed Catholics should know about. The entire works of Aristotle are available, free, on-line as well as the Church Fathers.

    The Chicken

  • Ian

    You can also get properly formatted and edited copies of several Catholic classics at Aquinas and More as well as dozens of other Catholic titles.

    We are the only Catholic store selling e-books.

  • Blog Goliard

    Some Project Gutenberg texts are excellent; some are unreadable. Distributed Proofreaders (http://www.pgdp.net/c/) is a volunteer organization working steadily towards improving that. Search their list of completed projects...or sign up and start working on uncompleted ones!

    My favorite search tool for ebooks is Inkmesh (http://inkmesh.com/). For popular titles, multiple free options will pop up; I would recommend trying the ones from MobileRead and FeedBooks first.

  • Rodrigo

    You can get the complete Penguin Classics edition of Kristin Lavransdatter at an even more affordable $18.99 here.

  • "There is only one tragedy in the end, not to have been a saint." - Léon Bloy