Thursday, May 24, 2012

I Love Free Books for My Kindle

Every now and then I buy a book for my Kindle e-reader, but what I love most are all the free Kindle books.

Before I continue with my lovefest for free Kindle books, I need to note that there are other sources of free books.
  • Project Gutenberg is a wonderful source of public domain free e-books, having over 39,000 "classics" available. "We carry high quality ebooks: All our ebooks were previously published by bona fide publishers. We digitized and diligently proofread them with the help of thousands of volunteers." One day I'd like to be a volunteer.
  • ManyBooks is another source I've used, with many downloads (29,000) available in many formats, like Project Gutenberg. ManyBooks has also put together a list of reviews about the many e-readers available, such as the various incarnations of Kindles, Nooks, and tablets.
  • Google Books seems to have many online books available. Going to the "classics" section finds the free e-books that can be downloaded. I haven't used this service much, though.
Kindle has many of the classics available for free downloads via the e-reader. It's easy, but it helps to know exactly the book or author you're looking for. Browsing Charles Dickens' books leads to more straightforward choices than browsing "Victorian novels," for instance.

I find the public domain books useful and interesting when looking for original sources. For instance, after reading a National Geographic article of the American Civil War, I was motivated to download Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant (in two volumes). Evidently, this was dictated by Grant at the last of his life to Samuel Clemens. (An interesting story about the Grant/Clemens connection here.)

Another example of seeking out original sources is connected to the non-fiction book The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey, by Candice Millard. I had checked the book out from my local library. Early in my reading of the book, I decided to download Roosevelt's version of his South American exploring, a book entitled Through the Brazilian Wilderness. Reading both versions of the same expedition was quite illuminating.

I find the books I buy for my Kindle are ones that I would call "disposable" books--ones I'll read but most likely not re-read, entertainment or recreational books that I can buy most cheaply as an e-book. Then, if I find myself really drawn to the book, I consider buying a paper version.

I like the idea of saving paper and lowering the carbon footprint of shipping by reading on an e-reader. I find the Kindle and Nook easy to read, easy on the eyes. Those are the two readers I've used extensively. I prefer the non-backlit screens of the e-ink readers, rather than a computer screen.

Try a free e-book download. "Classic" is a broad term--even if it just means a book is in the public domain and is no longer copyrighted. Jack London, Arthur Conan Doyle, and H.P. Lovecraft are all for free--but hardly "stuffy" classics. You might also try using the free-book sources to go to original sources. Grant's memoirs, for instance, are considered to be excellent examples of a more objective approach to generalship and the battles of the Civil War--not so much "the battles I generaled as a hero" focus.

E-books are a whole new world--one that I'm enjoying learning about and participating in, both as a reader and as an author.

Copyright 2012, by Thomas L. Kepler, all rights reserved


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