Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Book Tuesday: Free ebooks!

Today, I thought I'd talk about something we could all use: free ebooks.

While I like good, old-fashioned paper books for my kids, I could go either way for books I read myself. Ebooks tend to be cheaper than paper books and there are many of them that are free.

Now, how free they are depends on your e-reader. If you have a Kindle, you're going to be dependent on Kindle's proprietary file format. If you have a Nook, Sony or other reader, you'll have a little more choice, but you'll be prohibited from reading Amazon's free books because they're all in the proprietary Kindle format. If you use a device other than a dedicated reader (ipad, smart phone, or computer), then you have a plethora of free books at your disposal because you can simply download the appropriate app to read the book.

A quick primer on file formats
We'll start with the big dog in the room: the Kindle format. Kindle is Amazon's e-reader and it uses a modified .mobi file format. This is important because Kindles will read things in .mobi file format, as well as the Kindle format.  However, Kindles do not read word documents, PDFs or Epub (which has come to be the standard file format).  So, if you own a Kindle, you pretty much have to buy from Amazon.

The most common other readers--Nook, Kobo and Sony--tend to support Epub, PDF and text files. Some, like Sony, support .mobi files, while others support Microsoft word files. Nook also supports it's own proprietary stuff.  So, when you are getting a free book file, you need to find out what format it is in, to make sure your reader can read it.

Enough already! Where do I get the free books?
While Amazon supports the least file types, it is the most generous with free book deals.  If you've never downloaded a free book from Amazon, go to Amazon's free collection page, and look through what's there. A lot are classics and have expired copyrights. But, a lot are new books, including self published authors and authors who have successful series they'd like to get you addicted to. For example, I got Gemma Halliday's Spying in High Heels for free. It's a pretty good book, and the first in a series, which she, I'm sure she wants me to buy more of.  Also, I got the great Malcolm Gladwell book, The Tipping Point for free, a year ago. I also got a self published book, The Halo Revelations by J.S. Colley free on special a couple of months ago. The thing with Amazon is that they make books free temporarily and then at some point, charge for them again, so you really have to be on your toes to catch the best deals.

Don't have time to check Amazon constantly? Neither do I. So, there is a great site, http://ereadernewstoday.com/category/free-kindle-books/, that tells you what new books are free on the Kindle each day. You can either check the site daily (ok) or (better) sign up for the free newsletter that daily sends you an e-mail of the new free books. It takes about 3 minutes to look through each day. But, if you like free books, it's wonderful!

Now, for those who aren't interested in Amazon books, you can check out the following sites for free books.

Overdrive. This is the company that manages ebook lending for libraries. Each library has it's own restrictions or rules for borrowing books. The PG county overdrive site is: http://pgcmls.lib.overdrive.com/0ECCDFB1-F519-4431-BA31-DD55B9C4F504/10/439/en/Default.htm. Overdrive is a great way to read new ebooks, as many of the free sites offer older, out-of-print books.  Overdrive lends in Epub or Kindle format (in most cases; For those who are interested, there's been a huge backlash from publishers over the Kindle format lending, and some publishers don't allow Kindle format lending for their books. It's a complicated story, but because of the Kindle formats' proprietary nature, some publishers don't feel they get the same protections against theft; and they'd like Kindle to read Epub. Amazon has continually pushed against that.)

Nook Free Books: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/u/Free-eBooks/379003078/. This site is great if you have a Nook. It's not as extensive as Amazon's, but has some good choice. You also have to be a little more mindful on this site, as they have a lot of "free samples" where you just get 5 or 6 chapters of a book free, rather than the whole thing.

Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/. This site has transferred a number of out-of-copyright texts to electronic format. Most books are available as text, Epub or Kinlde format.

Open Library: http://openlibrary.org/. This project has a number of books that you can download for free. Like Project Gutenberg, many of the free downloads are for out-of-copyright books.

Sony Free bookshttp://ebookstore.sony.com/category/free-ebooks

Kobo Free bookshttp://www.kobobooks.com/free_ebooks

And that is it for me for today.

-Hyattsville Mom

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