Amazon Kindle 3G + Wifi or Kindle Wi-Fi

Part 2 of our Amazon Kindle Q&A series concerns free eBooks.  While we all love a good best-seller, let’s face it we love a bargain even more.  And, what could be better than free Kindle Books?

Well, luckily enough there are actually now a wide range of suppliers for free eBooks online.  And, though the majority (nearly 2 million the last time we checked) free eBooks are out of copyright titles, there are rather surprisingly some great limited time offers on newer titles too.

Free Kindle eBooks on Amazon

Amazon supply two different sets of free Kindle books.

  1. Limited Time Free eBook Offers. These are really random and continually changing, but definitely a page worth book-marking and checking regularly to see if anything tickles your fancy.  At the time of writing there were hundreds of new titles available for free here.   Now as you might expect not all are likely to be eBooks you would have bought.  But trying out something different can be a great way to discover new authors and new genres.  But to be honest the recent influx of scientific textbooks from the CK-12 Foundation are definitely not for me, though they are an extremely useful resource for many!
  2. Kindle Popular Classics. There are currently thousands of free eBooks in the classic Kindle library, and I have to say I could happily spend hours browsing as there are some real corkers to choose from.  Well worth a look.  They are sorted into collections, such as fiction, advice and how-to etc for easier searching.

One thing it is worth noting is that sometimes an out of copyright book available in Kindle format will have a charge attached.  This is not anyone being sneaky.  The reason is that whilst most free eBooks of old classics are either scanned copies (and therefore of variable quality), or are formatted electronically by volunteers they often miss some of the features Kindle customers enjoy, such as front cover graphics and tables of contents.

If you opt to pay a little for a Kindle edition versions you can get these little extras too.  So before you gasp in horror about amazon charging for some out of copyright books in eBook format, check the specification and then decide whether you want to pay for those little additions, or merely want a good read and so would be just as well ordering the free version.

Online Free Kindle eBooks

There are several large online resources that now offer eBooks in Kindle format.  You can find details on using each for the Kindle specifically here.

  1. Perhaps the largest is the Internet Archive, with over 1.8 million free titles available to access.  There aim is to provide access to historical collections that have been transferred into electronic format, for all.
  2. The Open Library is trying to create a web page for every single book.  A lot of work, but the result is around 1 million eBooks available for free.
  3. Project Gutenberg currently have over 33,000 titles available to download.
  4. ManyBooks.net are offering over 28,000.

There are more sources of free Kindle eBooks, and no doubt they will keep on growing.  Just remember if you order a free eBook at the Kindle Store you can benefit from that “instant” download.  But, if you find a title elsewhere you will need to download it to your PC or MAC and then transfer it to your Kindle with the USB cable.   You can transfer them wirelessly via email from your computer to eBook Reader but you may be charged for using the Whispernet personal document system.

Just look out for Unprotected Mobipocket (.mobi, .prc) and Kindle (.azw) files when attempting to download a new title for use on the Amazon Kindle Reader.  Those Mobipocket files must be free of Digital Rights Management (DRM) or you won’t be able to view them on the Kindle.

Kindle Lending eBooks

Of course the other way to bag yourself a Kindle book free of charge is to borrow one.  You have two options (well later in 2011 you will at least).

Currently lending is permitted between Kindle accounts providing the title is lent only once and for a maximum of 14 days.  When lending a book you will not be able to access it until the borrow finishes it (or the fortnight is up).

Later in 2011 Amazon are planning a Kindle library lending option too, which will enable you to access ebooks stocked at your local library via the Overdrive network.

 

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