Talking Tech Friday – e-books

This may be a cop-out, but I’m writing this column at the last minute.  I have no good excuse for this.  However, since our presentation this week was on e-book readers, I thought I’d do an overview of FREE websites where you can view or download e-books.  I’m limiting this list somewhat to only include e-books that do not  require any special hardware to read.

First off, there are tons of e-book sources out there.  The MobileRead Wiki has a really great list of free e-books, so I’m going to selectively choose a few to cover, as well as adding a few of my own.

You can’t talk about e-books without mentioning Project Gutenberg, the earliest e-book project.  It started in 1971 and is still chugging along today.  They have over 27,000 free e-books available.  One of the great things about Project Gutenberg is that most of their books are free, as in no charge, and free, as in you can use them however you like.  Most of the Project Gutenberg collection are public domain works that were published before 1923.  They have a very extensive and thorough set of FAQs, so it’s easy to figure out how to access, read, download, and contribute e-books.  I could probably write a whole column on this project, so I’ll stop now.  Just take a look at their Top 100 E-books, which changes each day.  There is also a sister projects, Gutenberg Canada and Gutenberg Australia which offer books that are in the public domain according to the copyright laws of those countries.

The Internet Archive Text Collection has over a million e-book and text offerings, some of which are contributed by Project Gutenberg, as well as libraries around the world.

Manybooks has a simple, attractive interface that makes it easy to locate and download one of their 23,000+ e-books for free.  You can search, or browse by title, author, category (genre), or language.  You can also browse by other suggestions, such as most popular, new additions, etc. as well as an always amusing “Random Book” option.  Again, most of these are public domain works.  If you’re an avid free e-book reader, you can be interested in their RSS feeds, which notify you of new acquisitions

For those who lean towards my own interest in fantasy and science fiction, the publisher Baen offers a free e-book library that is an opt-in option for their authors if they choose.  Some popular authors including Andre Norton, Larry Niven, and Harry Turtledove, among others, have chosen to offer some of their books for free, either online, or in a variety of downloadable formats.  This is pretty nice and cool.

One of my favorite alternative e-book options is DailyLit, which allows you to read a book in installments.  You choose a book, subscribe either by RSS feed or email, determine how often you’d like to receive installments, and DailyLit will do the rest. It’s a great way to get in a little reading each day.  All public domain books are free, some copyrighted books are free, and you can choose to pay a fee to read other books.  I just subscribed to Persuasion.  Because once is never enough for Austen.

What are your favorite FREE e-book sites?  Let me know in the comments!


~ by Anali on February 27, 2009.