postheadericon ECS: Top EBook Sites, On The Cheap!


So you just plunked down tens of thousands of rupees on a new eBook reader, and you are ready to fill your device with millions of pages of literature, comics or just plain fluff, but holy cow - look at those book prices!

EBook stores like Apple's iBook Store, Amazon's Kindle Store and Barnes & Noble eBooks are all great places to shop, but books there are going to set you back, on average, at least Nrs. 800 each. They also require that you have an International credit card or PayPal account to complete the transaction and download the book to your reader.

However, the web is full of sites offering, "free downloads" of eBooks in a variety of formats to fit your new eBook device. The only catch is that many of them are uploads from readers who are violating the IP and Copyright Laws of the land. Yet, there are many works in print and now in eBook format that are, as they say, in the "public domain" and ok to distribute electronically or otherwise, you just have to know where to look...

These legal and free sites are all of varying quality and offer the eBooks inconsistently in format - but if you can live with that, then there are tremendous savings to be had and hours upon hours of good reads. So here is a short list of sites that should get you started on filling up your own personal library with some of the greatest free and legal books available:

Gizmo's Freeware (http://tinyurl.com/446places)
Gizmo offers legal software as well as free eBooks on their well-organized site that has consistently been in PC Magazine's list of top 100 sites, year after year.

Here you will find book collections listed alphabetically or by genre. Actually, this site is an aggregate of other sites vetted by the moderator tagged mr6n8 at Gizmo, and he says this about the links provided, "I have tried to make certain that all of the eBooks at these sites are legally available for viewing/downloading.  However, it is possible that I have made a mistake."  

Mistakes withstanding, the links here point to the vast majority of eBook repositories of works in the public domain, as well as to author's site who give their permission to read and share their publications without payment. The genre links go along the expected lines: Biographies, Business, Comics, Computer & Internet, Horror, Mystery, Romance, etc. This is a great place to start if filling up your device with classic works is paramount.

Project Gutenberg (http://www.gutenberg.org)
This website is from the very first producers of eBooks, and has indexed over 38,000 titles in various formats, some meant to be read online but many meant to be downloaded to your device. There is no registration required, but donations are happily accepted.

Here you will find a decent search tool for finding books alphabetically or sorted by popularity and even by language. While most books are in English, there are a fair number in French, German, Finnish, Dutch, Chinese, etc. and even a few in Latin and Esperanto, in case you are a student learning another language.

The site has "bookshelves" - just as in a brick n' mortar shop – where you can find virtual shelves containing Children's Books as well as Banned Books, plus 120 or so other categories. Once you find a book of interest, the site offers handy tabs for download formats, a short bibliography, and social interactions such as Like to Facebook and Tweet to Twitter. Most eBooks come in ePub, Kindle, Plucker, and QiOO Mobile for easy compatibility with various reading devices.  

ManyBooks.net (http://www.manybooks.net)
This website is rather unique, as it allows registered users to create and share their own bookshelves with others, as well as add comments and reviews of the books that they read. ManyBooks has over 29,000 titles in more formats than most sites I've seen, to include Rocketbook and Sony Reader versions. There are even formats there for antiquated PDAs like the Apple Newton, if you happen to have one of those still. This site also has a "Random Book" selector and you can sort thru some selections by book covers in the Cover Image Gallery. But outside of the eye candy, you will find all the expected ways to search: by author, genre, and title.

BooksInMyPhone (http://www.booksinmyphone.com)
This website differs from others as its dedicated to the reader who likes to use their ordinary mobile phone to read books, instead of a dedicated eBook reader like the Kindle or Nook. The books are formatted for many mobiles on the market like the Blackberry and Nokia, and the books can be found and downloaded directly to the phone when connected to the sister site: mobile.booksinmyphone.com. Users can SMS links of good books to others via their mobile, so friends too can "share the love" with each other. It's not clear how many books they have catalogued here, as the font used on the website is tiny and very hard to read if you’re an elder like I am.

GetFreeEbooks (http://www.getfreeebooks.com)
This popular website is very much like ManyBooks.net described above, but is filled to the brim with other items besides free eBooks: Blog posts, Latest News & Articles, Tips & Tricks, and a section on Tools & Softwares will appeal to the eBook enthusiast on many levels. 

In addition, members of this site are uploading their own works everyday, and you can even select to be tweeted when your favorite author completes a new book. This seems to be the premiere place for indie authors to share their works and communicate with their reading public. It's also a great place to find out about the latest in eBook hardware and apps, as well as to find other essential eBook reading advice. 

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Jiggy Gaton
lives in Kathmandu and is an aging technologist - has been since the days of Woodstock - so in the words of Roland The Gunslinger "he is from a world now gone by." However, Jigs is extremely up-to-date on all things tech and is also available for hire.
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