My kids may never read a book as an adult. Not only is our culture and time moving towards the tyranny of the now in 140 characters or less, the actual form of a physical book is disappearing. A client recently sent me a source for books to use as decorative accents. How sad. Books as information are becoming obsolete. Ebooks and ereaders are taking their place.
How Do eBooks Work?
Ereaders have evolved in just the last few years. Authors and publishers opt-in to making their content digital. In some cases, the manuscript gets converted from the original print. In some cases, a book goes straight to digital, and you can’t even buy a printed copy of a particular book. Some works from recent decades might not ever be available in digital form, but many books from before the 1920s are available for free. You can download e-books to your desktop and then sync your device so you have them on your e-reader, or you may be able to download books directly over the air, without being wired up. Once you own the digital copy, the file is usually yours forever, or until your computer crashes.
One thing you may not know is that you don’t have to buy a new gadget to get digital books. Most of the ereader companies have a free desktop version that allow you to download books to your computer. If you have a laptop, you have a portable ereader. You can download the Kindle for PC for free.
The advantage to those little tablets is that they are lighter than a laptop and have a longer battery life, up to one month says one maker. My friends tell me you can read a Kindle in bed without the light waking your partner. And of course they can store thousands of books in the space of a small notebook.
The downsides are many. The initial cost for the gadget is now around $100 or so. Then you must buy the books. If you are a regular library patron like I am, you may not want to shell out the bucks. However, many libraries are now offering ebook borrowing services. You simply download a copy of popular books to your device for a specified period, and they self-destruct after a couple of weeks, very James Bond-like. Cool, but not yet available everywhere. If you happen to live in Delaware County, PA, check out their Overdrive ePub service . You can’t share digital books with friends the way you can paper books, although Kindle will let you loan a book to another Kindle user, and many e-books are simply PDF or other files that can be moved without being damaged.
The biggest downside is that this becomes another place to put clutter. Start early by creating some standards for what you download and how long you keep it on your digital shelf so you don’t create another place to store the books you feel you should be reading. It is possible to end up with ebooks in a few places on your computer, so create a file named BOOKS on your PC to capture most of them in one place. Decide on a naming structure, perhaps Title-Author-Download Year, so that you can clear out older books when you need the space. You don’t want to be accused of digital hoarding.
There are actually tons of places to go for free ebooks. As the barriers to publishing come down, many more ebooks are coming out from small publishers and indie authors. As one of those who have benefitted from this revolution, I encourage you to go read something new.
So how do you find free books? Go to the free books page on Amazon.com for starters. Many classics and pre-1923 books are yours for free anytime. Current fiction and non-fiction are free at Amazon as well.
You can also go to other ebook sites. Yep, Amazon isn’t the only game in town, believe it or not. This lists over 30 sites to visit for free books, although some are redundant. Obooko lists every book on its site for free. Sure, it’s buyer-beware, but it’s a good place to start. A very content-rich site is Smashwords, which is an awful name that comes from the concept of “blockbuster smash hit”. This happens to be where my first book is digitized, and so it’s my current favorite. I want to reward my loyal followers with a special offer. You can download my book, The Pregnant Entrepreneur, for just $1 using code DK36C just so you can get a sense of how this works. That’s 90% off, but it expires September 30. Feel free to share this offer with friends.
Of course, you’ve heard of the Kindle by Amazon and the Nook by Barnes and Noble. If you own an iPad or iPhone, then you surely know about iBooks. But the field is expanding. There are competitors you might want to check out, including Kobo, which boasts a battery life of up to a month. Their price and style looks great, and I love the pretty quilted back. If you’ve had personal experience with them, I’d love to hear it. My mother might be getting one for Christmas (shhh, don’t tell).
A few years ago, Oprah was one of the few toting a very expensive ereader. Now, you know the secrets to having digital books at your fingertips, too, without going broke building your library.