Fanfiction is one of the easiest sources of free reading to track down online. I use it liberally to stretch my e-reading dollars, and if you are selective, you can find enough good writing to keep you in reading material for a long time.
Traditionally, one of the downsides of fanfiction is getting the stories to your e-reader quickly, easily and well formatted. Anyone remember a little executable file called Interparse? It made converting list-serve email files into decent text documents relatively easy. I say “relatively” because a decade ago, I would occasionally spend as much time on file conversion as I did on my actual reading.
But that’s not a problem any longer. The two main fanfiction repositories right now are Archive of Our Own (known as AO3) and Fanfiction.net. It’s possible to easily download well-formatted stories for your tablet or e-reader from either site, although you’ll need Calibre for the best results.
For Fanfiction.net, you’ll want to download the Fanfiction Downloader app. As you can see from the image above, it’s very user-friendly: Simply paste the link to the story you want in the Storylink field, and then click ‘Check and Download.’ There are a variety of output formats to choose from, including EPUB and MOBI. The downloader does create a working table of contents, so the ‘Time Until End of Chapter’ feature will work properly on Kindle Touches and Paperwhites. I don’t know about you, but that’s an important feature for me.
AO3 provides a one-button download feature, as you can see below. (Shameless self-plug here: The story pictured is one of mine.)
The EPUB version works well. It handles odd characters and creates a working table of contents. The same can not be said for the MOBI version. For best results on a Kindle, I suggest downloading the EPUB and using Calibre to convert to Kindle. If you change one setting, everything will look beautiful.
In the MOBI Output section, select ‘Ignore margins.’ Otherwise, you’ll end up with a very wide left margin, which is rather distracting.
If you don’t care about the working table of contents, and assuming the author hasn’t done something odd (like inserting double spaces after periods), the MOBI download option is perfectly fine.
If any of our readers know an easy way to download from Livejournal, please share it. I’ve used Instapaper there with mixed results—most of them bad. Fortunately, most Livejournal authors also archive to AO3 or, less commonly, to Fanfiction.net.