NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, January 2010
Download Full Length E-Books for Free or Inexpensively
By Ira Wilsker, APCUG Director;
Columnist, The Examiner, Beaumont, TX; Radio & TV Show Host

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About a year ago, I wrote about some of the excellent resources available that provide a wide selection of full-length books as free downloads. Since writing that column I have become aware of some other websites that also offer a wide selection of free and inexpensive e-books. For those who may not be aware, e-books are books of all genres that are available for download. A large assortment of titles, are available for a fee that can be downloaded to Amazon's proprietary Kindle; Amazon claims that over 360,000 titles, including many current best sellers, are available for download. Barnes and Noble recently announced its own proprietary e-book reader, the Nook, which will be released in early 2010. Barnes and Noble has stated that it will have over a million titles available for download to the Nook. While many new releases and bestsellers will be priced at about $10 at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble, there is also a massive library of titles that can be downloaded for free from a variety of sources. The Kindle and Nook are relatively expensive, retailing for $259 each. For those not willing to spend that amount, there are thousands of titles that can be freely downloaded and displayed on computer in the universal PDF format.

In the minutes before typing this column, I downloaded a few titles from two sources that I have not used in the past. Both required free registration, and both offer a selection of both free and paid content. The paid content is usually reasonable in price, with one website offering unlimited downloads of paid content for about $5 per month (free-ebooks.net, discounts available), and another offering unlimited downloads for $9 per year (worldlibrary.net). The first "new" website for me was downloadfreepdf.com, where I found a book for one of my daughters who recently had her first child. I downloaded for free "Baby's First Year - What Every New Parent Needs to Know!" as a PDF file for my daughter. I also found and downloaded two free e-books for my wife, "10 Strategies to Improve Your Nursing Care", and "Student Nurse's Bible". Even though they were all free, I had to go through a checkout process as if I was paying for them, being sure to check the button that indicated that they were free. As soon as I completed the checkout process, the books were instantly available for download as PDF files. The default is to display the files in a browser window; in order to save the e-books on the computer, be sure to click on the "save" icon in the browser window (often a floppy-disk icon), and not the File-Save command on the browser toolbar.

The website ebooknetworking.com has an impressive menu of topics, but many of the topics only offer a small selection of e-books. I like interesting cookbooks, and this website has four titles available as free downloads, "300 Chicken Recipes", "Delicious Diabetic Recipes," "Great Sandwiches", and the "Big Book of Cookies".

The website free-ebooks.net offers a limited number of free e-books for download in PDF format (5 per month free), or unlimited downloads for $5 per month or $20 per year. There is no limit on the number of titles that can be viewed for free online in HTML (webpage) format. The first category I looked at was "Business" which contained 166 titles available in PDF format, or viewable online in HTML format, which can be viewed in any browser. Free-ebooks.net also makes most of its titles available in the Mobipocket format which may be downloaded and read on Amazon's Kindle, mobile phones, Blackberry, Palm, and several other reader formats. Another interesting category was the "Food and Recipes" section, which offered 66 cookbooks. One that attracted my attention was "Cajun Clark's Cookbook", which contains a free selection of about 80 Cajun recipes, and a link to purchase the entire cookbook of over 1000 recipes. In the Humor category was a very cute (and clean) "Knock Knock... Who's Joking?" a collection of hundreds of short jokes and one-liners. Being a history buff, I found a very interesting e-book in the History category on a subject that I had not seen before, "The Big Guns of the Boer War", by W. J. Havenga. Considering that thousands of people are paying $259 for a Kindle or a Nook, a $20 annual subscription to free-ebooks.net, which provides unlimited downloads, is a relative bargain. For computer users, finding just one good title a year justifies the expense.

Another interesting website is e-booksdirectory.com, which lists 2807 free e-books in 399 categories. The actual e-books are hosted on a variety of websites, including Project Gutenberg, and available in a variety of formats, including PDF, plain text, and a variety of formats compatible with the various e-book readers. I found the listings comprehensive, and downloaded (for free) several titles on military history, religion, health, law, hunting & fishing, science, and travel. I found especially interesting "Mom's Home Cooking" volumes one and two, which had about 250 recipes each. There is something here for everyone at a price that can not be beat.

For those looking for free e-books that are generally highly technical, ebooksdownloadfree.com has a wide assortment available. The major categories of books at ebooksdownloadfree.com include medical, computer, sciences, history, and management. These books are mostly recent publications and require a few mouse clicks to reach the download page, but the results are well worth it. I downloaded several of the books and while the files were large, often over 10mb, they were the complete books in PDF format, including all of the pictures. Some of the downloads were in the RAR compression format, but there are several freeware utilities available that can uncompress the RAR format. Some of the downloads had an attached password text file which included a key to uncompress the files. A few of the download links opened up popup ads, which I quickly closed. This site, ebooksdownloadfree.com had some of the best current titles available.

I like to read and have reference books available. Free or inexpensive e-books may be the way to go.

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