Guest Blog: Great Places for Free Books…On Your Phone!

when the I-Phone came out, i drooled, slathered, and slobbered like everyone else did.  didn’t everyone just want to lick it?

then, i saw the price tag.  *sigh*. i feel the same way about most Apple products.  sort of like they’re out of my league.  like i’m an info-peon and the Macbook is my lord and master in the high castle.

when the cheap as heck (by comparison) Droid phone came out, i drooled anew.  and this one was attached to GOOGLE.  i dove in, thus participating in the madness that is the Smart Phone.

how many useless things can you download onto your phone?  apparently the answer is somewhere near ∞.  as a matter of fact, if you can’t find what you need (are you sure?) you can now make your very own app with Google Labs.  it’s totally true.  look:









once i got over the initial shine, though, i started to find things i could really use.  no, i’m not talking about that gun noise app.  or the rainbow glitter app (which, btw, is totally rockin’).  i’m talking about actual usefuls like the Mint app or the Spark People app.

now, i’m a book person.  one of those people who has an I-pod full of books (ok, full disclosure, Journey and REO Speedwagon too).  anyplace i can load a book is a good place.  and, lucky me, about the time i got my phone, Phoenix Public Library launched their mobile site.

i discovered a whole new world of paying my fines online on my phone while throwing the ball for my dog at the park.  ok, really we were just sitting in the grass.  there was no legitimate physical activity.  also, i didn’t actually pay my fines.  i just looked at them.


PPL Mobile Site









my account









my overdue fees









from the PPL website, you can also access the Digital Library.  YAY!


Greater Phoenix Digital Library

for those of you who don’t know, the Digital Library is the greatest thing to happen to apps since the sliced bread app.

you can search for the app ‘Overdrive’ in your phone’s marketplace, or you can bring up the PPL website and follow the links.

amazingly, the site is easier to use on my mobile phone than it is on a computer.

it automatically searches for titles compatible with my phone.  for example, i listen to audio books, so it default searches MP3s.  eBooks are also available.  searching and browsing are simple and checking out is done exactly the way it is on a computer, with my library card.  which i left at work.

when the book you want is checked out, you download it and it’s easy to access, bookmark and delete via the console app on your phone.  conveniently, (and sadly if you didn’t get to them in time) the books are automatically deleted when they are due, thereby keeping you from accruing those awful late fees (see above).

you can find out if your device is compatible with the Overdrive console by going to their website.

on the con side: the number of books compatible with my device seem to be fairly limited (compared with the thousands available for the computer).  that, and you have to put the popular books on hold and actually wait your turn for them.

while i was waiting in a really long holds list for a Suzanne Collins Gregor series book, i found some other fabulous book apps i would recommend:



Droid Kindle can be downloaded by searching for Kindle in the app marketplace, or by capturing the QR code on the Amazon website.  you DO NOT have to own a Kindle to access this app!  however, if you do have a Kindle, you can sync it with the app on your phone, although, i’m totally not sure why anyone would want to do this since that is the whole point of owning a Kindle.











you can find TONS of free ebooks for your app.  just do a search for ‘Free books’ in the Amazon website!

some items i’ve downloaded for free (and they never seem to expire) include Pride and Prejudice (i swear i’ll read it someday!) Treasure Island (that too!) and even a modern book or two.  hundreds of books are priced at $0.00 on the Amazon website.  once you find a book you like, click on the Kindle edition, ‘buy’ it (you’ll have to create an account if you don’t have one), and then click on ‘View your media library’.

when you open the Kindle app on your phone you’ll have to log in with your Amazon password the first time.  after that, your Kindle app will automatically sync with your Amazon account loading all of your purchased books.  of course, you can buy ebooks from them too, but who wants to do that?


Aldiko Reader:

once again, you can find the reader in the apps marketplace by searching for ‘Aldiko’.











Aldiko actually comes preloaded with The Art of War (i was totally gonna read that someday too) and an HG Wells book among others, just to get you started.

the best part of Aldiko is the number of book searching categories.  push the ‘Download Books’ button and you can instantly browse by ‘Free Public Domain Books’ ‘Free Original Books’, ‘O’Reilly Ebooks’, ‘High School Reading’ ‘Smashwords’ (independently published) and ‘All Romance Ebooks’. (all?  really?) J  books are even available in different languages including French, Spanish and Dutch.

you can import ePub books that you already own by copying the file onto your SD card in the ‘/eBooks/Import/’ folder.

the FB Reader is available in the apps marketplace and is very similar to the Aldiko.

you can search for public domain books and will, of course, find lots of free classics and can import books you already own.  FB reader is slightly more difficult to navigate and you must search for new books by opening the ‘About FBReader’ eBook, than pushing the menu button on your own phone and choosing ‘Network Library’.  from there you’ll see the screen above and be able to search for books.  could that be more confusing?  probably not, but don’t let it stop you from trying.

in every reader you can go to settings and change the font size (usually by zooming), lock or change the display orientation, change the way you flip pages (Navigation Control), and adjust brightness.  you can even enable CSS stylesheets, whatever those are.

the major drawbacks for me are the lack of illustrations on the children’s books and the fact that there aren’t any audiobooks which usually sends me right back to my library!  audiobooks make those long work commutes SO much more bearable, not to mention my husband’s long football games.

also, i hate waiting, so, when Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins came out, i subscribed to the paid booksite: and downloaded their app from the marketplace. (you can also get the QR code from the website.)







the Audible website has no free books.  let’s just say that again.  the Audible website has no free books.  *sigh*  for a monthly fee you can then spend more and purchase a book.  that’s right.  you pay a monthly fee and then you pay for the book.  why would i sign up for something as mind-bogglingly lame as that?  well, they do give you a  book credit or two every month in exchange based on your monthly fee. also, did i mention that i didn’t have to wait in line for Mockinjay?

some other excellent sources for free eBooks:

Free EBooks:

Project Gutenberg:


The Online Books Page:

Barnes & Noble:


Terry Ann Lawler is a Children’s Librarian and Assistant Manager at the Phoenix Public Library.  She regularly writes her own blog and she has reviewed audiobooks for Library Journal and School Library Journal for several years.  She is always looking for the next great read (even if it is from two centuries ago).



~ by Vinny Alascia on December 21, 2010.

11 Responses to “Guest Blog: Great Places for Free Books…On Your Phone!”

  1. Excellent post and great writing style. Thanks for pulling together and highlighting all these resources. I think all these apps are also available for the iPhone, except for the Aldiko reader app.

  2. Great summary! I love my iPhone and I love apps!

  3. thanks Christine! you’re correct, most are available for the iPhone as well as for the new blackberries. just takes a quick web search or marketplace search. i hope you try some out, they’re very useful!

  4. thanks Apple Nerd! i love apps too. now, maybe someone will make an app that keeps me from eating so many cookies this winter.

  5. Bravo, Terry! This was highly informative and entertaining. I’m going to share with a few people.

  6. thanks Melodie! share away, i’m hammish:)

  7. […] Blog: Great Places for Free Books…On Your Phone! [web link]MCLC Library Tech Talk (21/Dec/2010)“…holds list for a suzanne collins gregor series […]

  8. This is great Terry, thanks. Makes me want a droid.

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