Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Cheap & Free Ebooks

A while back there were news reports about a free ebook repository that is basically flouting copyright law.  While I love a free book as much as the next person, I also want authors to be paid for their work.

So!  Here's where I've been getting free/cheap ebooks recently.

The free:
  • The library.  This should be a no-brainer, but if you have internet access, or can go sit in a parking lot or something to download them, a lot of public libraries offer ebooks now.  Most loan periods seem to be 2 or 3 weeks.  Look for Hoopla, Libby/Overdrive, or just ebooks on your library's website.  If you don't have a card yet, check and see if your library is allowing signup via email.
  • The New York Public Library.  If you're in New York state, you can get a card from NYPL.  Then download their SimplyE app.
  • Project Gutenberg.  This is your platform for public domain ebooks.  This is where I got the Jane Austen I've been reading, among other things.  You can download the epub or mobi version and upload it into your Google Play books or Kindle if you want to read it on those platforms.
  • Google Books.  If you're looking for public domain stuff, you can often find a scanned version in Google Books.  When I was researching piano production, a lot of the works contemporary to my piano were available here.
  • Tor's ebook clubTor gives away a free ebook monthly, usually (in the short time I've been getting them) tied to an upcoming release.  It's kind of a standard book marketing thing, give away the first book in a series to get you to buy the rest, but if you're not familiar with the author, it can be a nice way to try them out if you can't get them through the library.  (Other publishers may offer something like this, but Tor's catalog generally aligns with my reading interests.)
  •  Amazon shipping deals.  If you're buying from Amazon anyway and can pick the deal shipping option, recently they've been doing $1.50 of digital credit.  Combined with the cheap options below, I've gotten some stuff free recently using the credits.
The cheap:
  • Book Riot.  One of the mailing lists you can sign up for through Book Riot is a daily ebook deals email.  It's a selected list of ebooks on temporary markdown, usually $.99 to $4.99.
  • Ebook sales.  Google Play has an under $5 this week category in its ebooks section, and Amazon has an ebook sale section, as well, but it's harder to find.  This is usually a mix of popular and obscure stuff, but sometimes I find interesting things buried in here.
  • Stalk your wishlists.  I use Google Play's wishlist for this:  I add stuff I'm thinking about getting to it, or that I want to get with points when I have enough, and then I check it regularly (a couple times a week) to catch sales on stuff I've been looking at.  I've gotten six or seven books for $2.99 this way that were already things I wanted to get.
  • HumbleBundle.  The book bundles range from programming to comics, but they're usually a good deal.  I've gotten a couple different sci-fi/fantasy and comics bundles from them.  (There's a D&D one up right now that's basically all of R.A. Salvatore's Drizzt books, but we've already got them.)
I still buy some ebooks at full price (or pre-order) if I'm impatient enough to read it not to wait for a sale (hello, Their Bright Ascendancy series and pretty much all the Sam Sykes stuff I've gotten), or if I have some Google Play credit to use.  I do still get stuff in print, too, but with seven full bookcases (and the paperbacks two deep), I'm a lot more selective about what I get in print now.  (At least until I win the lottery and can get a bigger house.)

I have definitely been feeling the pain of the public library being closed - I want to pick up the second season of Star Trek: Discovery, the rest of the Sailor Moon books, and the next Sebastian St. Cyr book - but I am totally willing to wait until it's safe to do so.  It's not like I'm lacking for books until then.

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