Thanks to eBooks – and the rise of the digital book-reader – the book has finally broken free of its bindings. We can all now enjoy access to the books we choose, whenever and wherever we want. But while the eBook revolution has piled up the fortunes of Amazon and Apple – and big name purveyors of electronic literature – you don’t have to carry on throwing money at the new ePublishing giants. EBooks can now be widely downloaded and read for free, whether it be from promos and ex-copyrighted books.
As a result, the internet is chock-full of web portals, stacked high with free eBook offerings. Check out some of these websites – which are among the best and most popular hooks into the new global free library – and you too can get on with reading, without the spending.
Amazon? But aren’t they the ones charging hand-over-fist for their eBooks? True in part, but Amazon also have a slew of promotional offers on the go, at any one moment, allowing the savvy eBook reader to scoop up excellent new books for free. Check out the Kindle Bestsellers section, and you’ll find lists that cater for these many free offers – top-notch eBooks for just the click of a mouse.
Google’s eBookstore is a rising star, trying to muscle in on Apple’s and Amazon’s big-time dominance. So eBookstore is keen to get your custom. That means good deals-a-plenty, including a fair few freebies, and a couple of free sections well worth perusing – ‘Best of the Free’ and ‘Free Collections’ – which focus on on the classic works. Because these are now out of copyright, these older books can be published for free. Obviously, the formats here are more friendly to Android and web-based readers, rather than Kindle’s or Amazon’s. But you can also download them as Adobe PDF files, which the newer Kindle devices can handle with ease.
This is an entirely free eBook website, covering fiction and non-fiction, poetry and plays, essays and short stories – in fact a dizzying array of the best classic and quality published content. In order to get at the 8,000 books, you just need to register for free, on the site. This site is noted for its excellent search ability – you can pick out authors by quotes – and the ease of use of its browser-based interface.
This is a free eBook site that pulls in plenty of up-and-coming writing talent, with a vast range of new titles added daily. To get access to the free content, you again need to register; and you are restricted to only 5 PDF free book downloads per month. The breadth of coverage, though, means that there’s bound to be a book here in an area of interest. But be aware that because Free-Books.net has an open-door policy, the quality of the all-free offerings can be quite variable. The catalog is nicely fleshed out, though, with a good stock of copyright-expired classics.
One of the best known, oldest and largest collections of eBooks, Project Gutenburg is an invaluable source of quality online literature and reference works. Originally started some 40 years ago, this is in fact the world’s oldest digital library. Fast approaching 40,000 published works, this is the site to come to for classic works and authoritative text books. However, the layout and format of the eBooks provided can be a little bland. The goal of Project Gutenberg has always been to keep everything as simple and accessible as possible, rather than pandering to the needs of one particular segment.
There’s more to Wiki than just the sometimes-shaky – but often-excellent – user-edited encyclopedia. Wikibooks is an attempt by the Wikimedia Foundation to gather together the best free reference-style works into one location on the web. Consisting of mainly of factual ‘textbooks’, its quality, not quantity that counts here. Some 2,700 eBooks have been put together by contributors, covering a massive range of subjects. If you’re wanting in-depth knowledge, rather than a light read, then Wikibooks is the place to head.
If audio-books are your thing, Librivox.org is one of the better and more comprehensive audio sites out there. It hosts only totally-free content, aiming for ‘acoustical liberation of books’. To that end, an army of volunteers has set to transcribing books from those already in the public domain, into the spoken word. And not all of the readings are in English – some of the more popular classics, such as Shakespeare, have been translated into German, Italian and French. The great thing about downloading audio-books is that they can slot into those parts of your day where reading is impractical – such as driving, cooking or doing housework.
This is another of the new breed of internet publishers, who rely on books supplied for free by those writers seeking to make a break into the world of writing. So you get free access to the widest possible range of subjects and genres, by original new writers, all for free. The site is well organized and covers all of the main eBook reader platforms. But, as with other sites that are open to all, it’s worth bearing in mind that for every gem there may well also be a clanger.