Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Collection of Free Kindle Resources



Dinner With My Family is taking a one week hiatus due to a cavalcade of visiting family and an inability to get good pictures of a meal. Tune in next week for the series' return.
On Monday, Sarah gave me a wonderful Valentine's Day gift – a Kindle. I've had a great deal of fun playing with it all week long.
Unsurprisingly, within a day of having the Kindle, I found myself spending lots of time online looking for great free resources for the Kindle. What books and other materials are out there for free for Kindle users?
Since I've received many emails over the years from Kindle users – and I know at least some people subscribe to The Simple Dollar using a Kindle – I thought I'd share some of the best resources I've found, both this week and over the years.
If you don't have a Kindle but think you might own one someday, bookmark this page.
Feedbooks
http://www.feedbooks.com/
Good for a smattering of free current novels and many well-known public domain classics
Feedbooks is a source for purchasing electronic copies of books readable on the Kindle, but the site also offers a huge selection of free works, including quite a few well-executed copies of public domain literature. Generally, what you'll find here are very good versions of the more well-known classics, whereas Gutenberg (below) has a much wider selection but some of the less-well-known items can sometimes have minor issues (extra punctuation and so on). I particularly enjoy the new free releases section, where unknown authors give away a novel or two in order to try to make a name for themselves; you can find all kinds of things in there!
Five free quick picks from Feedbooks: The Ware Tetralogy by Rudy Rucker, Accelerando by Charles Stross, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow, The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.
Project Gutenberg
http://www.gutenberg.org/
Good for classic literature as far as the eye can see
Project Gutenberg is a repository for electronic copies of any and all public domain books. The advantage of this is that if you're looking for a piece of classic literature – and pretty much everything prior to 1920 is public domain – you'll find it here. The disadvantage is that the database is huge – you can wander for days through the mountains of books listed there. Another minor concern is that some of the lesser-known titles can have dodgy elements in their text, including some unwanted punctuation. However, if you enjoy reading classic literature, this is a definite place to go.
Five free quick picks from Project Gutenberg: The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams, Silas Marner by George Eliot, Walden by Henry David Thoreau, Dubliners by James Joyce, and Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser.
Amazon's Free Kindle Store
http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/digital-text/
A deep mixed bag of free books
Amazon themselves has a free Kindle store which usually contains books that are available for free for a short time as a promotion from the book's publisher (my own book had this kind of promotion in the middle of last year and hit #1 on the "free" chart). There's a big mixed bag of books on there, but I found a couple interesting reads just this week – although they seem to no longer be free, just that quickly. Thus, it's difficult to link to a list of free picks for this store.
Other Sources?
After investigating a lot of additional Kindle resources, I found that most of them fell into one of three categories.
One, they were full of junk. By junk, I mean that a significant portion of the books were unreadable on a Kindle, either due to language problems or software errors or something else. Many of them seemed to be just scrapings of websites, resulting in piles of badly-formatted text.
Two, they were duplicates of Project Gutenberg. I found several sites that seemed to just duplicate what Project Gutenberg was doing, often just collecting piles of Gutenberg books that they themselves liked.
Three, they were full of pirated books. I found a few repositories of pirated books during my search, but I know quite well the work that goes into writing a book and I'll leave it up to the authors whether or not they want an electronic free copy floating around out there, not the pirates.
Of course, with the three resources above, you'll have plenty of free stuff to read. If you can't find something to entertain you in all of that, I'm not sure how to help.

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