Friday, January 8, 2010

Free books at your fingertips.

When it comes to free books, most people will advise that you go to the library, and this isn't a bad suggestion. Your local library's bound to have a ton of interesting books for you to peruse and read through, after all.

But if you're like me, there are going to be times where you wake up at 2 AM and can't get back to sleep, and you'll want to read some book you read a few weeks ago but had only borrowed, so it's not in your possession anymore. Waiting until the library opens to go and borrow it again isn't always the most convenient thing when we have jobs, families, any number of obligations that come before enjoyment.

To help combat this, I've turned to free books online. It's not the best solution ever, but it gives me great access to a lot of books without even having to leave the apartment. And best of all, because they're free and easily accessible, if I want to read them again at 2 in the morning, nothing stops me!

The Baen Free Library hosts a small (but still decently-sized) collection of fantasy and science fiction books published by Baen that are available to read for free online, or for personal download. I've made use of this site many times.

I'm sure most people have heard of Project Gutenberg by now, the site devoted to creating free online books that have an expired copyright. The expired copyright means that essentially the books are in the public domain, and Project Gutenberg is collecting them all to make them more public than antique stores and libraries can manage. Thise is a great site if you like the classics, or, like me, are interested in historical books or all kinds, since the expired copyright often means they're old and obscure.

Questia has a similar online free library of books with expired copyrights. is a site I only recently discovered, but it seems to have great potential. I found the autobiography of Helen Keller on here, and that's definitely been added to my "To Read" list!

WikiBooks is a compilation of open-source textbooks, and so if you trust open-source content (and/or can take it with a grain of salt if things don't seem to be adding up), then this can be a wonderful resource for anyone interested in continued learning. Very handy, I must say! is a site for authors to host their own novels and short stories and the like. You may be taking a chance on quality, but remember that not even unpublished author is unpublished because they can't write well.

If romance is your thing, why not try Public Bookshelf?

Literature Master has a lot more expired copyright books, though these are a bit easier to search through than Project Gutenberg, and are more likely to be ones you've heard of before.

This article has a listing of even more free online book services. Just in case the ones I listed aren't quite enough to keep you going!

If you prefer audiobooks, then why not give Podiobooks a shot? These are serialized audiobooks, often written by new and up-and-coming authors, and there are some wonderful things to keep you entertained here no matter what your preferred genre is!

Librivox is like a cross between Podiobooks and Project Gutenberg. They take books that are in the public domain and turn them into audiobooks for your listening pleasure.

Still prefer the feeling of a good old-fashioned book in your hands? Then maybe Paperback Swap is right for you. List the books you have that you no longer want, and mail it to whoever requests it. In return, you can do the same for the hundreds of books listed to trade across the site. This not only helps you cut down a bit on clutter, but can also act much as a library does, only by delivering the books right to your door instead of having to go out and get them. And unlike the library, if you really like the book and want to keep it, you're not under obligation to return it!

The downside to Paperback Swap is that it's useless to people who live outside the United States. Go figure. Someday people will remember that Canada exists, I swear!

Tomorrow, I'll go over some free online TV sites that are actually available to Canadians! Yes, they really do exist!

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