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image imageKindle hardware can read texts from a wide array of sources.

And now, thanks to the work of founder Brewster Kahle and the many volunteers and staff at the Internet Archive, Kindle owners can easily find and download well over a million free e-books from there. I’ll tell you how.

image So you’ll know, the Internet Archive is a nonprofit organization, founded in 1996 by Brewster. It is dedicated to building and maintaining a free and openly accessible online digital library, including texts, film, music and other audio recordings, software, and an archive of the World Wide Web.

The Internet Archive has made over a million titles easy to find, search, browse, and download in a variety of user-friendly formats including, most recently, the Kindle-compatible MOBI format. While you can convert from other formats, it’s always nice to find Kindle-ready books that you can just copy to your Kindle from your desktop or laptop.

Here are the specific libraries featured at the Internet Archive, and the vast majority of these titles are available in that Kindle-compatible MOBI format:

American Libraries: 1,228,563 items
Canadian Libraries: 235,032 items
Universal Library: 70,187 items
Open Source Books: ?
Project Gutenberg: More than 25,000 items
Biodiversity Heritage Library: 39,431 items
Children’s Library: 3,324 items
Additional Collections: 57,354 items

That’s well over a million and a half, but there are always duplicates and a few titles that may not yet be available in the Kindle-friendly MOBI format, so we’ll just satisfy ourselves with saying "over a million."

If you love to read, from the classics to arcane research texts to contemporary texts of all kinds, you may be amazed at how easy it is to use the Internet Archive with your Kindle; in my opinion it’s certainly much easier and more user-friendly than trying to find and transfer a specific free e-book with Google Books.

For Kindle for PC users

Here are the steps if you are using a PC or compatible laptop  and want to to read with the Kindle for PC program:

  • Click here to download the Kindle for PC App if you have not done so already.
  • Click here to go to the Texts portion of the Internet Archive.
  • Look around the main page to select the first free book you’d like to download. You might choose a frequently downloaded title such as Amusements in Mathematics or Henry James’ An international episode, or you may prefer to enter a few keywords so that you can find Carlos Baker’s Hemingway biography or a delightful old book of children’s rhymes.
  • Click on the hyperlinked title you select, and at the left of that book’s detail page you’ll see a box showing the formats in which the text is available for reading. Click on Kindle (beta).
  • The ebook that you have selected should begin downloading to your computer immediately, and if you have downloaded your Kindle for PC App as noted above the text will open in your Kindle for PC App, usually in just a few seconds.
  • Take a look at the text you’ve downloaded in your Kindle for PC App to make sure that you’ve got what you want, and if so you can connect your Kindle to your PC via your Kindle’s USB cable and  drag the title from your PC’s "My Kindle Content" folder to your Kindle’s "documents" folder.
  • Once you’ve ejected the Kindle from your PC (and disconnected the USB cable, if you like), you should find the new file on your Kindle Home screen and you can select it with your 5-way controller (or, on Kindle 1, your scrollwheel) to begin reading, annotating, or even listening to it via Kindle text-to-speech.

For Mac Users

Once Amazon launches its too-long awaited Kindle for Mac App, the steps for Mac users should be very nearly similar to the steps shown above for the PC. Until then, if you are downloading a title to your Kindle via your Mac, just follow these steps:

  • Click here to go to the Texts portion of the Internet Archive.
  • Look around the main page to select the first free book you’d like to download. You might choose a frequently downloaded title such as Amusements in Mathematics or Henry James’ An international episode, or you may prefer to enter a few keywords so that you can find Carlos Baker’s Hemingway biography or a delightful old book of children’s rhymes.
  • Click on the hyperlinked title you select, and at the left of that book’s detail page you’ll see a box showing the formats in which the text is available for reading. Click on Kindle (beta).
  • The ebook that you have selected should begin downloading to your Mac immediately.
  • Connect your Kindle to your Mac via your Kindle’s USB cable and use Finder to drag the title from your Mac (you’ll probably find it in "Downloads," Desktop," or "Documents") to your Kindle’s "documents" folder.
  • Once you’ve ejected the Kindle from your Mac (and disconnected the USB cable, if you like), you should find the new file on your Kindle Home screen and you can select it with your 5-way controller (or, on Kindle 1, your scrollwheel) to begin reading, annotating, or even listening to it via Kindle text-to-speech.

Bio: Stephen Windwalker has been an occasional Teleread contributor throughout 2009 and promises to come back often in the year to come. Enjoy his Kindle Nation Daily, visit the Kindle Nation archives or subscribe to a Kindle edition with multiple daily uploads. Amazon’s new bestseller archive has just revealed that his first Kindle guide was the #1 bestselling title in the Kindle Store in 2008, and his current Kindle guide is available both in a DRM-free Kindle edition and in paperback.

 
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