November’s post regarding free ebooks has been remarkably evergreen, so I decided to release a sequel just in time for Christmas. Wikipedia also provides a list of digital library projects.
If you plan to purchase a device for reading ebooks, first make sure it’s compatible with the ebook format you prefer.
Directories and large repositories
The Online Books Page, edited by John Mark Ockerbloom, a digital library planner and researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, is a directory of links to more than 30,000 free books on the Web.
Digital Book Index is a meta-index of the major free ebook websites, including the next two listed in this post.
Project Gutenberg offers golden (as in out-of-copyright) oldies like The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus. Some of the selections are available as audio books.
Bartleby.com hosts the digital versions of great reference works, poetry, and fiction, such as Andrew Lang and S. H. Butcher’s translation of The Odyssey, the 1914 Oxford edition of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare, and Curtis Hidden Page’s translation of Tartuffe.
Manybooks.net, administered by Matthew McClintock, includes much of the same content as Project Gutenberg, as well as other ebooks in the public domain or licensed under Creative Commons. The site includes ebook reviews that can be helpful.
Luminarium: Anthology of English Literature is Anniina Jokinen’s beautiful portal to electronic texts, which is designed for students and enthusiasts.
[Updated on December 16, 2009] The Online Medieval and Classical Library (OMACL) is a small collection of important works of classical and medieval literature.
[Updated on March 8, 2010] AustLit, the Australian Literature Resource offers the full text of selected creative and critical works, including poetry, fiction, and children’s books.
[Updated on March 14, 2010] EServer publishes free electronic texts on subjects in the arts and humanities, including art, architecture, drama, fiction, poetry, history, political theory, cultural studies, philosophy, women’s studies, and music.
[Updated on June 22, 2010] Making of America (MoA) is a collection of approximately 10,000 books and 50,000 journal articles from the 1800s covering American social history in the areas of education, psychology, American history, sociology, religion, science, and technology.
[Updated on June 22, 2010] Eric Lease Morgan’s Alex Catalogue of Electronic Texts “is a collection of public domain and open access documents with a focus on American and English literature as well as Western philosophy.”
[Updated on June 22, 2010] Project Runeberg, based at Linköping University in Linköping, Sweden, provides electronic editions of classic Nordic (Scandinavian) literature.
Bookshare.org gives schools in the U.S. that have enrolled students with qualifying disabilities free accessible electronic books and software for reading them. The organization is funded by a federal grant for the next five years.
Craphound.com is where Cory Doctorow, co-editor of Boing Boing, distributes his science fiction ebooks for free.
Baen Free Library was created for a group of science fiction authors who believe the positive publicity generated by giving away ebooks increases sales of the printed versions of their work.
Accelerando, a novel by science fiction writer Charles Stross, was released on the Web as a free download in 2005, even before it could be purchased in bookstores.
CNET’s Download.com has an odd selection of over 300 free ebooks. Be sure to set the filter to “free.” You can download Le Petit Prince as an ebook that will allow you to click with the left mouse button in each paragraph of text for a pop-up translation. Some of the free downloads lack features that are included in the retail versions. For example, the audio portion of Le Petit Prince wasn’t free.
Fictionwise is an online ebook seller with a list of 15 free downloads offered to induce prospective customers to register on the site.
Adventures in wonderland
Globusz Publishing distributes free ebooks on the Web. My friend Frank appeared in the film adaptation of one of the titles offered by Globusz. No kidding. I’ll let Frank comment on that.
Lulu offers some of its customers’ self-published books as free downloads. You’ll be more likely to find one if you use the advanced search feature and check the box labeled “Find me works I can copy and distribute.”
[Updated on April 7, 2009] NewFiction delivers MP3 audio books as well as text versions.