New computers – Kindle – Books (part 1)

You can, of course, just buy books from Amazon.  It’s pretty easy: you choose the book, arrange payment, click on a link to send it to your Kindle, and, next time your Kindle is connected to a wireless network you choose “Sync & Check for Items” from the menu on the home page, and they get loaded onto your machine.

But, let’s suppose you are, like me, cheap.

Well, Amazon is still a source.  You can search on “public domain,” for example.  (Type in “public ” and Amazon will helpfully suggest something like “public domain books for kindle free.”)  That will get a list of books, most of which will be available free of charge.  (Most of them probably started life in Project Gutenberg.  We’ll get there later.)  You can even do it while your Kindle is connected via wireless, in the “Shop in Kindle Store” option on the home page menu.  Some of the books that come up will be books about the public domain, and those you’ll probably have to pay for.  Also, some of the books, even in the public domain, bear a charge, although it’s probably fairly modest.  You will have to wade through them until you come up with something you want to read.  (You will also have to wade through a whole bunch of titles in German.)

Now, these public domain books tend to be old.  There are definitely classics to be found: Austen, Dickens, Wilde, Twain, and many, many others.  If you want more recent titles, there are other searches you can do.

Try searching on “0.00“  That is the price you will see if the book truly is free of charge.  You’ll still see some of the public domain books, but you will also see some more modern titles.  (For some reason, lots of romances.)  Amazon seems to mess with searches for “0.00″ especially if you add limits, like “0.00 science fiction”  You will only get a very few titles.  (The day I tried it, one was a science fiction magazine.  The description even said that this subscription was always free for Kindle users.  When I tried to subscribe, it asked for a credit card for “recurring charges.”)

But, there are many, many other sources.

As previously noted, there is Project Gutenberg.  This is the Grandfather of all free online book sources, started by Michael Hart.  There are over 20,000 titles in the catalogue, with more being added all the time.  They used to just be text, but they now come in half a dozen formats.  For Kindle, you’ll want .MOBI.  (I’ve also mentioned the formats Kindle will handle.)  Most of these titles appear elsewhere, including ManyBooks, which provides the texts in even more formats.

There is also a Website called Kindle Review.  They have suggestions about where to get free books (although they mostly seem to sell Kindles).  They have suggestions about books free at Amazon, particularly ones that are only available for a short time.  You have to search for some entries, and the site is not easy to navigate, but I found this Amazon listing of limited time offers to be quite useful.  They aren’t all free, but a fair number are.  (Remember, on Amazon, that in the upper right of the page you can sort, and one of the options is by price, lowest to highest.)