18 January 2013

Free Stuff Friday - Free Books

One of my earliest memories is of my mother, my sister and I catching the train into Sydney each school holiday to see the latest Disney movie, have lunch in Coles cafeteria (1st floor of their Pitt Street store), and then going to Angus and Robertson’s book shop.  Every holiday they used to have special book reading sessions for kids.  I remember one holiday when they had origami lessons for kids – I still remember buying a book on origami that day.  The highlight of my day was always choosing a book to buy. 

If I see a book store nowadays, I still can’t resist exploring.  Unfortunately, there aren't that many around any more.  Being able to order books online much cheaper than in a shop is the main cause.  My love of books isn't as great as my love of a good deal – so I've been ordering books online for a few years now. 

The other cause of the demise of the book store is e-books.  E-books (short for electronic book) are books published in digital form, so you can read them on computers and other electronic devices.  E-books can be conventional printed books that have also been produced in a digital format, or they can originate as e-books – without a printed equivalent.  You can buy children’s books, text books, novels, reference books – any type of book you can buy in a physical book store, you can buy as an e-book.   


To read an e-book you can buy an e-reader – like Amazon’s Kindle, or the Nook, or any number of other less well known readers. (I’ll let you know what to look for in an e-reader in a future post.)   But you don’t have to buy a special reader for e-books.  You can use an iPad, or any other Android or Windows tablet.  You can also read e-books on most smartphones, iPods and some MP3 players - although the screen size really doesn’t make it such a pleasurable experience.  You can also read e-books on your computer.  If you've got a desktop computer it will probably be fine for reading text books or business publications, but sitting at your desk may not be exactly the right atmosphere for reading 50 Shades of Grey!

So, you have the device, what else do you need to read e-books?  It needs the software to enable your device to display and navigate through the e-book.  

If you have an iPad you already have the iBooks app.  Amazon’s Kindle software can be downloaded to your Windows computer or phone, iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone, Mac, Android tablet or smartphone, and Blackberry – and it’s free, here.  There are e-reader apps for both Android (Aldiko is the most popular) and iOS devices (Bluefire Reader).  

The majority of e-books you may see advertised on blogs and websites are in PDF format – which means all you need is a free PDF reader, like Adobe, to read them on your computer, tablet or smartphone.  E-books in PDF format can also be read using iBooks on your iOS device.  

The world’s largest bookstore, Barnes & Noble (makers of the Nook e-reader) also offers free reading apps for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Android tablets and smartphones, Windows PCs and Mac here.  

Now you’re set up with the device and the software, where do you get the books and how much do they cost?  You’ll pay between $1 and $30 for an e-book, but every e-book store also offers FREE BOOKS. Here’s some to try…..

iPads have access to the iBookstore. 


With Kindle software on your devices you have access to Amazon’s bookstore
If you have multiple devices, all with Kindle on them, any e-books you buy from Amazon will be synced across all your devices.  So, it doesn't matter if you start reading a book on your laptop, but then want to continue reading on your iPad – your bookmark will be in the right place no matter which device you use.

Barnes and Noble

You can buy and download NOOK books at Barnes & Noble.  This is also where you can download the Nook app for your Windows, Android or iOS device.


Feedbooks has one of the easiest websites to navigate – Just click on the links to either Free Public Domain Books or Free Original Books.  All the books on Feedbooks are compatible with the Kindle software, Aldiko (Android), and Bluefire (iOS).

Google Books

Google has committed itself to scanning all 130 million books in the world.  At the end of 2011 they had completed 20 million.  Not all of these books will be available to read online because of copyright issues.  Currently there are 3 million available through the Google Bookstore where you can download reading apps and browse the collection of free and for-sale e-books. 

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg offers over 40,000 free e-books for download to a PC, Kindle, iPad, Android or other portable device, and over 100,000 additional free titles through its partners and affiliates.

One of the greatest benefits of e-books is not having to carry the books around - an e-reader can hold thousands of books but weigh less than the weight of one.  

Funny fact:  Did you know that each e-book you add to an e-reader increases the weight of the e-reader - true!

Do you have a favourite e-book store?  I’d also love to hear your experiences of using e-readers and other devices for reading books.

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