The e-books are coming! The e-books are coming! Okay, maybe not this month, but they will (hopefully) be here very shortly after Christmas. The contract is signed, and our vendor is working hard behind the scenes to get everything to roll out next month. We will be partnering with ten other libraries to make this happen, and we will begin offering tutorials on how to download e-book materials as soon as we can.
Until this happens, though, there are other avenues for legally free e-books. While some genres are better represented than others, you can still find a number of good titles in most of them. Some of the books you will find are by mainstream authors, while many of them are self-published.
Also, any book published before 1923, or published by an author who died before 1942 (70 years ago), is in the public domain. Now, just because they are no longer protected by copyright does NOT mean that they are automatically available as an e-book. Publishers receive no monetary benefit from resetting these books into e-book form, therefore most of the “classics” you find are hand-typed by someone. That’s right, someone took their copy of one of great-uncle Frank’s 19th century penny dreadfuls and painstakingly hand-typed it into a word-processor. They uploaded it to a website called “Project Gutenberg,” who then made it available to everyone with internet access. Another site that uses mainly the same content, but with a different interface, is Many Books.
Of course, given all of the fantasy and science fiction that I read, one of my favorite sites is the Baen Free Library. They make a number of their books free to be downloaded. These books have no restrictions, other than that you can’t sell them yourselves! They mainly have the first few titles available in a series, and the later ones are only available for purchase.
Another good site for free SF and F books is The Fifth Imperium. When Baen Books releases new hardcover books, they generally ALSO provide a CD with about 8 or 10 e-books with it. These are, yet again, available with no reproduction restrictions, other than “please do not resell these books.” This site collects all of those CDs and makes them available to anyone who wants to download them.
I’ll post more as time allows, even once our e-book collection is available. Enjoy your reading!