CATALOG OF FREE E-BOOKS
This subject comes up often on TeleRead, and we try to pass on new freebies whenever we hear about them. But keeping up with everything is not easy—nor is keeping track of new public domain titles, not to mention Project Gutenberg and out-of-print books being released as free e-books.
From time to time, TeleRead will post an updated list of e-book freebies. If you own a Kindle, you can might enjoy our tips for obtaining free commercial titles from the Kindle store itself.
In an age of too many books (warning: PDF), coming up with a comprehensive list seems futile. At best, any compilation of free e-books will reflect the idiosyncratic tastes of whoever compiled the list, and people have questions about whether something as important as literature should be given away for free. There’s also the question of what an e-book actually is—whether a website or flash interface can serve as a book, for instance, and whether or not to include titles available only in a certain format.
For now, we’ll leave aside these questions and simply make notes when appropriate.
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RECENTLY-DISCOVERED BOOKS & RESOURCES (Last updated on October 22, 2012)
Foboko allows you to download five free e-books per month. Their platform also enables you to write and publish your own e-book for free, and to promote it to their online community.
The Ball Washer by Lance Manion
An adult-humor short-story, available in all major formats via Smashwords
Action Philosphers! by Fred Van Lente (Author) and Ryan Dunlavey (Illustrator) [PDF]
This is a 36-page preview of the Action Philosophers! comic book
Col. Harland Sanders: The Autobiography of the Original Celebrity Chef
This decades-old autobiography of the legendary KFC founder includes a mini-cookbook. You’ll need to be logged onto Facebook in order to download the file. [PDF]
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FREE E-BOOK BLOGS
• Finding Free E-books Online (RSS) is a great blog of recent free ebooks, with an emphasis on new titles. Some titles mentioned on this blog are free only for a limited time, so be careful. The blogger (whose first name is Christine) also publishes a conventional book review blog. One nice thing is that the posts contain specific information about format and web presentation.
• E-books Just published (New Release RSS) is Mark Gladding’s wonderful blog which allows indie authors to announce their recent works. Although most of the new releases are available for reasonable prices (usually less than $5), this blog has a separate category for free ebook titles
• On the U. Penn Women Writes site there is a listing of the latest releases around the Net (alas, no rss). Mainly academic & public domain titles.
• Online Novels is Susan Crealock’s site with names, links, covers and descriptions of the books. Categorized by genre. Susan says she updates it daily.
• Free Literature is a huge collection of links to free ebooks and to digitized library sites. Covers literature, poetry, music, classical Greek and Latin, audiobooks and more. Sites are collected from all over the world and in many languages.
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FREE E-BOOK DISTRIBUTION SITES
• The Online Novels site contains a list of contemporary novels which are available for free download. Well-organized, with direct links to the website of the author or publisher. Updated monthly. Highly recommended.
• Mobileread’s E-book uploads is the best place for well-formatted ebooks in .prc, .lrf and .pdf. Generally, the formatting is wonderful, and uploaders often provide updates in case of mistakes/problems. Despite the growing community of uploaders, the selection is still somewhat scanty (except the most well-known titles). Still, good to check here first. Their reader recommendation forum contains lots of free titles. Their Deals & Freebies forum let people give information about recent freebies. Also, on their wiki the MR free e-books page contains many of the same links listed here.
• Project Gutenberg search pdb, html, txt. The later additions have well-formatted single html versions with graphics. As long as you can do HTML to ebook conversions, this remains the most complete source.
• American Verse Project–lots of well-formatted poetry books. You can view in a single HTML page for easy conversion to pdf/prc, lrf, etc.
• Manybooks.net: multiple formats, all free. Significantly, the catalog contains a list of RSS feeds by category to make it easier to keep track of what’s been added recently. RSS feeds include: Creative Commons, Sci fi, Short Stories,
• Wowio contains ad-supported PDF e-books. Includes lots of comic titles and alternative press. Registration is required.
• Baen Free Library contains lots of sci fi titles by about 30 authors. They were one of the first to offer free titles.
• Tony Kline’s translation of classical texts. This one-man site consists of Kline’s translations of many famous works, plus downloads in HTML, PDF and .DOC. Also some PD British lit and original poetry by Kline himself. Contains translations from Latin, Greek, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Russian. Spanish. This site utterly astonishes me!
• List of various sources of free e-books and online books, at Techsupportalert. Lots of overlap with stuff on this list.
• Creative Commons Wiki contains links to CC-licensed books/e-books. Lot of titles are also found on mobileread, manybooks, etc..
• Online Prize-winning books from the 1920′s and 1930′s, HTML only. Collected by University of Pennsylvania.
• Celebration of Women Writers has lots of digitalized books (rendered as html with images). Here’s an index by author and a listing of the latest releases (alas, no rss but a blog about recent releases)
• Southern DocSouth literary collection. Interesting collection of public domain literary and history documents from the Southern part of USA. Badly organized, but markup is both TEI and HTML, plus images. Very nice!
• Starry’s Free Online Novels contains about 25 free novels. An eclectic mix, with a lot of sci fi.
• Book View Cafe is a consortium of over twenty professional authors with extensive publishing credits in the print world. Every day, new content available nowhere else will be served up on Book View Cafe: short stories, flash fiction, poetry, episodes of serialized novels, and maybe even a podcast now and then.
• FriedBeef’s Tech has an article on the 7 Best Places to Download Free Textbooks.
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FREE CHILDREN’S LITERATURE E-BOOKS
There are a lot of good free children’s books on the Web, just not in e-book formats. Usually you have to do your own conversions.
• Children’s Literature Bookshelf (PG) lists many of the best works from the Gutenberg collection.
• University of Pennsylvania’s Digital Library has digitalized 15 or so Newberry Award winners and posted the HTML.
• International Children’s Digital Library has lots of online titles, but are probably impossible to convert to ebooks. Books for kids tend to rely on unusual layout and design, and e-books fail miserably at that.
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Almost all e-book sites contain free chapters/samples of their e-book offerings. Generally, there is no need to list them here. But these are worth looking at:
• Daily Lit Book Sampler. Sends out 5 minute chunk of books via email or RSS feed. Public domain is free, and so are introductory chapters, then you have to pay.
• Smashwords is a commercial e-book distributor for indie authors, but a surprising percentage of titles are either free or pay-what-you-want. At the moment, no separate feed for free titles.
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E-BOOK CONVERSION TOOLS
For those want to convert existing content themselves
• Calibre is the hot free tool of the moment. It converts things to epub format and is mainly for Sony Reader, although recently it supports Cybook. (Read the manual). Most notably, it contains lots of prepackaged recipes for downloading famous publications (New Yorker, New York Review of Books, Economist, etc) as well as special interest RSS feeds (XKCD). Be forewarned: the lead developer has been fixing lots of bugs and updating the software frequently, so you’ll be downloading updates every week or so. (Read the Calibre help forums)
• Ecub is a free tool that lets you import HTML/XHTML files and spit out EPUB and Mobipocket books. This tool is still fairly new.
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PROMOTE YOUR OWN FREE E-BOOK
Authors looking for ways to promote their own free ebooks should take a look at the sites listed above, especially the 2 Free E-book Blogs listed at the top. E-books Just Published has an Author page which explains how to submit your own e-book announcement to the blog.
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