Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Frugal Reader: Finding Free E-Books

So how do you justify dropping a C note or two on an e-reader? Why, reading free e-books, of course.  It may take you a while to make a return on that investment, actually, it may take several years, but it does mean you are not buying books while you are reading the free ones.

I actually got hooked on free books last summer before I got my Nook Color.  Barnes & Noble had a summer promotion of providing free classic books every week.  Sherlock Holmes, Dracula, and books by Jules Verne were just some of the books offered during the free library promotion that I wanted to read.  Since I did not have a Nook at the time, I tried them out using the PC and Blackberry reader. It was just not compelling enough for me to read on those devices. The PC had other applications that sidetracked me and I soon got tired of reading a book a few lines at a time with the Blackberry.  Fortunately, when I got my Nook, those books were in my virtual library, which automatically transferred to the Nook when I activated it..

So where do you find free books? You will need to find books that are either in EPUB or PDF format, which are used by the Nook and Nook Color.  EPUB is the preferable format of the two, and is the same format B&N uses for their books.  You will need a PC to download the books from the internet, where you can then transfer them to the Nook via the USB cable. Copy the files to the Books folder on your Nook in order to see them appear on your bookshelf.

Here are four sites that provide free books:

Barnes & Noble - B&N has a free Nook book section as well as a Free Fridays promotion. Click here to see the Free Nook Book section.  Books from the Free Fridays promotion are posted in the Unbound blog at B&N.  These books are usually free for 1 week starting on Friday.  Sometimes there is just one book, sometimes there are several.  You will just have to visit the site each week to see what is free that week.  Finally, there are books at B&N that are not free but are pretty darn cheap. The Classics book section has many books that sell for $2 to $3 dollars.  The nice thing about this site is that you can download books directly to your Nook using a browser on your PC or the Nook itself.

Project Gutenberg - This site is the grandfather of e-book sites. Started in 1971, Project Gutenberg has a group of dedicated volunteers digitizing old books for electronic use.  Click here to visit the site. Visiting the top 100 books and authors page is good place to start downloading books.

Google E-Books - If Project Gutenberg is considered the grandfather of e-book sites, Google could be considered the baby. Released just a few months ago, the Google ebook store provides both free and paid e-books. Books can be downloaded in a number of formats, or can even be read online using a browser.  Click here to begin your search for free books.  Once you perform a search, you can click on the "free" option to narrow your search results to just the free books. You will need to set up an account with Google, even if you don't plan on buying any books.

Local Library - Another site to check for free e-books is your local library. Many libraries are now lending e-books in addition to the paper books.  One nice thing about e-books from the libary is that there are no overdue charges.  The device removes the book automatically when the book is due, eliminating any overdue charges.  Visit your local library or go their website for more information.

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