Welcome to the first installment of free ebooks. Every few weeks, TeleRead provides a list of free ebooks which have come to our attention (see also our Guide to Free Ebook Download sites). This regular feature will give an annotated list of the latest ebooks to come to our attention recently. (See also: Teleread’s general list of where to find free ebook titles).

This installment we will be playing a little game of catch up. Over the last few months Teleread has been blogging about so many free titles that it seems like a waste not to mention them here. Also, two wonderful blogs are providing regular announcements about “new” free releases: Finding Free Ebooks and Ebooks Just Published. In many ways, this column is just culling stuff from there.



  • James Boyle’s The Public Domain is a worthy addition to the copyright reform movement. (PDF)
  • Edge.org polls intellectuals and scientists about various philosophical questions. The question for 2009 is “What game-changing scientific ideas and developments do you expect to live to see?” The 2009 print-friendly version puts text from 151 thinkers all on the same page. (I just cut and paste it into a text file and import into Calibre). See also the 2008 print-friendly question (What have you changed your mind about?) and the 2006 question (What are you optimistic about?) . On all these links you have to scroll down a bit, but once you get to the main section, you will see that the URL contains all the responses on a single pageyou just need to cut-and-paste the rest and ignore the random garbage at the top).

Public Domain/Classic Texts

(note: Public domain trickle down to the free ebook sites eventually, but in the meantime, Project Gutenberg continues to release new books at a maddening rate).

New Zealand Electronic Text Centre publishes lots of New Zealand and Maori classics, both fiction and nonfiction. They publish in TEI format and also MS Lit format. It’s relatively easy to convert MS Lit format into Mobipocket or Sony LRF (with the aid of Calibre). The site contains lots of links between texts, so if you surf the Jane Stafford and Mark Williams introductory essay, you are set. (See also the online ebook, Maoriland: New Zealand Literature 1872-1914 by the same authors).

Selected Plays of Guan Hanqing, 13th century plays found on SilkPagoda/Munsey’s site. Silk Pagoda sells a lot of low-cost editions of famous Asian texts. Also available for free: Journey to the West, Romance of 3 Kingdoms

Tony Kline’s translation site contains more translations than know what to do with. Kline is a polyglot and geek who has apparently been translating every classic work under the sun (every one I care about anyway). Apollinaire! Ovid! Corneille! Catullus! Horace! Machado! Akhmatova! I can’t comment on his skill as a translator, but for the few works I know intimately well, his translation compares favorably.

Children’s Literature

(Please limit your comments to those discussing any of the titles listed above. If you would like to suggest or recommend a title for the next installment, please email idiotprogrammer AT fastmailbox.net ) .


  1. Here is an interesting resource for freebies:

    Got to http://www.bookshare.org
    Go to Getting Started > Find Books
    Click ‘Advanced Search’
    For ‘Books to Search’, select ‘Freely Available Books’
    Under ‘Filter by Category’ select one or more categories (contrary to what it says, you cant leave these fields empty to search all).

    If you select all categories, you should get over 4,000 titles you can download in DAISY, BRF, HTML, or text.

    Go for it!

  2. David,

    I wouldn’t steer TeleReaders wrong – the books I mentioned are available to EVERYONE – no disability or registration required. Its a nice free bonus from Bookshare.

    — Bob

  3. Just to make sure, I downloaded a DAISY file of the 9/11 report in a few clicks, right from the bookshare website. And, you can go right to advanced search from the home page – didn’t notice that at first.

  4. Hi, Bob. Appreciated your further comments.

    I dropped by the bookshare.org site again and could indeed call up pub domain books for free. You’re right on that—books in the Freely Available area. As noted, I said I wasn’t sure about noncopyrighted books. The 9/11 report is a government document without the usual copyright.

    That said, I suspect people would get a much bigger choice of public domain books from a site like Gutenberg.org or Manybooks.net or probably Feedbooks.

    Hey, we love tips, so thanks for your original comments, and I hope you’ll share other hints!


  5. Thanks David – I thought people might be interested to check out the DAISY format, which is the basis of the NIMAS format, which was mandated for K12 textbooks.

    I’ll hop up on my soapbox for a sec to remind people that readers with disabilities that prevent them from reading print books are a great audience for ebooks.

  6. Absolutely, Bob. If you run across some incredible things in this area that you want to write about, why not do a guest-posting for us? How about a post with tips on how people without disabilities could help disabled folks get into e-books? Use examples to liven things up.


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