My best sources of free ebooks

DSC_1806Although I love paper books, ebooks are what really insures me against the dreaded “nothing to read” syndrome. To make sure that you all have plenty to read during these troubling times I have collected my favourite sources of free, legal (for some of the younger titles dependent on where you are) ebooks that don’t require a kindle ereader.

Project Gutenberg is my main source of ebooks and has as a very large collection of ebooks that are all in the US public domain. However the vast collection can sometimes be a problem as it may be hard to find the good stuff among all the obscure texts, unless you already know what you are looking for. If you don’t know what you are looking for the Top 100 list or the Bookshelves may help.

Apart from the more obvious classics I have enjoyed:


The MobileRead forum also has plenty of ebooks. Here you can find books in the Life+70 public domain, so some books not available at Project Gutenberg may be found here and legally downloaded if you are in a Life+70 year area.

  • The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Her more famous works are of course also there (and on Project Gutenberg as most of them are her earlier works), but this one is really charming and aimed at a slightly older audience.


Baen free library has a small collection of primarily Science fiction novels. Not all of them are good, even considering that they are free, but there are some fun novels to be found there. Be aware though that many of them end on a cliff hanger, which I guess is only fair when they give them away for free…

  • Among the Baen novels I have enjoyed Agent of Change, Fire with fire and Boundary. However, what I like best are the yearly short story collections. Several of the authors can get tiring in larger doses, but most of them work well in the short story format, so these are a lot of fun and a good way to identify the better authors.


A temporary but wonderful resource is Archipelago Books Free Library, which has some really intriguing titles. Archipelago books focuses on high quality translated fiction, which makes them my favourite type of publisher, and now they have made 30 of their ebooks freely available until April 2nd, which is even better. I have downloaded all of them (and bought two more because how could I not?) so I will have enough to read for a while.


And finally, don’t forget your public library, many of them offer ebooks that can be downloaded from home.


Have I missed any good sources, large or small, or do you have any reading recommendations for me as I expand my ebook library?



Books, e-books and “license to read”


I love paper books. I love having bookshelves full of everything from well-bound hard-cover editions tattered second-hand pocket books. I watch them on the shelves, take them out and and leaf through them, remembering good reads.

I also love e-books. I love having an entire library in my pocket when I travel, the convenience of the front-lit pages and the adjustable character sizes.

What I hate are the things that look like e-books, cost like e-books, but really are nothing but a “license to read”. I don’t mind it much when they are honest about it, I know that I don’t own the e-books I’ve loaned from the library and that’s OK, I didn’t pay for them either. I may also pay for a “license to read”-book if it is a lot cheaper (or if I’m desperate). However, the DRM-protected books are per definition inferior to real e-books. I don’t own them. I can’t move them freely between my devises (only to the extent the publisher decides) or be sure that I can still read them if the publisher goes bankrupt or the reader hardware changes. An e-book in an open format can probably be updated to a more modern format whereas there is a real risk that a DRM-protected book will be lost. I’m happy to pay for e-books. However, if I pay for them I want to own them and I don’t like seeing inferior products promoted as the real thing. Paying full price for a DRM-protected book is a lot like paying full price for a hard-cover edition only to find out that the pages get loose and the paper inside turned brown and fragile after only a few years.

So in general I do my best to avoid “license to read”-books. In practice that usually means that I either stick to paper books or select books that are out of copyright. Project Gutenberg has a large collection of DRM-free out-of-copyright books in a variety of formats and so does MobileRead . For SF and Fantasy DRM-free books can be also bought from Baen books. As a Swedish reader things are even better, both Dito and Adlibris have most of their Swedish e-books protected by watermarks instead of a more intrusive DRM. I’d like to hear about other, legal, sources if anyone has any suggestions?