Friday Bargains and Freebies

I’ve been posting a lot of writer news lately, but this is also a blog for readers. I love to read and I have an eReader packed with all kinds of good stuff from both traditionally published and independent authors.

The reason I usually post Kindle freebies is because I have a Kindle and the Kindle app is available for all kinds of devices. I don’t want people to think I’m Amazon biased and I do look for other eReader resources. Part of the problem is that Amazon is nicely set up for bargains and freebies. They’ve made it part of their business model. Barnes & Noble, not so much. It’s hard to find the cheap thrills on their website. Apple has gotten a lot better in that regard, but it’s hard to include those links since iTunes isn’t web-friendly.

So, eBook retailers, if you’re out there, please note: free and bargain books have made me purchase more books than I ordinarily would have. They have pointed me at authors I might not have noticed. If I like a book, chances are I will buy that author’s next book. If I really, really want a book, I will probably buy it at full price.

Today, I have two websites to share for readers and writers, but particularly readers.

The first is Indies Unlimited. This is a website for readers and writers of independently published books. Every Thursday, they host Thrifty Thursday. In the comments section of that day’s post, independent authors can add links to their books costing $0.99 or less. Every Friday is Freebie Friday. In the comments section of that day’s post, independent authors can add links to their free-for-now books.

The links for this site are below. The links for Thrifty Thursday and Freebie Friday are only good for those dates, i.e., 3/14/13 and 3/15/13. You must visit the main site each week and click on the new posts for that week.

The second is BookBub. This is a free service that sends daily emails containing lists of free and bargain eBooks. You can choose which genres you want to receive and you can also choose the format, including Kindle, Apple, Kobo, B&N, Sony, etc. If you don’t want to receive an email, you can also find book deals on their website. I’ll have to say that while I don’t like retail email, I do look forward to my daily BookBub message. The links are below.

To receive information and deals throughout the day, you can like Indies Unlimited and BookBub on Facebook and follow Indies Unlimited and BookBub on Twitter.

eBook Lessons and Bargains

I received a Kindle Touch for my birthday this year. Since then, I’ve learned a number of lessons about eBooks.

  1. eBooks are expensive! My heart sank when I looked at the books I wanted and discovered many cost more than the paperback versions.
  2. eBooks are free! My heart soared when I discovered the abundance of free eBooks. Also, eBooks can be borrowed from the library. My reading possibilities seemed endless. However…
  3. Sometimes, you get what you pay for. My heart resumed business as usual. I’ve picked up some freebies that were awesome and some that were duds, but the same goes for books that I’ve paid for.

My year-end lesson is that what really counts is quality, not price. Of course, it’s easy to download a free book and if I don’t like it, simply discard it. That’s a lot more painful when I’ve paid $9.99.

I don’t want to be a perpetual literary freeloader. Authors should be paid for their work. The freebies have been a great way to be introduced to new authors and if I like the free book, I will often buy that author’s next book.

A happy medium between freebies and full price are bargain books. Every day, Amazon offers daily deals and every month offers 100 books for $3.99 or less. The price drop can be pretty steep, so these are well worth checking out. Since today is December 31, I suggest hopping over there right now.

Kindle Daily Deals (December 31, 2012)

100 Books for $3.99 or Less (December 2012)

Today I picked up a couple of books that I’ve had my eye on for quite a while. Both books are deeply discounted.

“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” looks creepy, scary and fun. It has to do with a teenage boy exploring an abandoned orphanage and finding strange photographs. Today’s price: $1.99.

“A Year of Biblical Womanhood” is the true story of a woman who lives the Bible’s laws for women for a year. I love the subtitle: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master.” It sounds like a funny, informative and inspirational read. Today’s price: $1.99.

An additional bargain to note, one I’ve already read and enjoyed, is the first Lemony Snicket book, “A Series of Unfortunate Events #1: The Bad Beginning.” It’s a dark, drolly written tale suitable for children and adults. Today’s price: $1.99.

I just looked out my window. It’s starting to snow. Perfect weather for reading. eReader in one hand, hot drink in the other and warm kitty on my lap, I’m looking forward to a happy new year.

Happy New Year to you all!

How to Enjoy the Apocalypse

Free Reads for the End of the World

The Becoming: Brothers in Arms

Do you heart a dystopian future? Are you locked and loaded for the coming zombie and/or vampire apocalypse? Have you participated in a flash mob version of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller?”

If you answered “yes” to any of the above, or even if you didn’t, you may enjoy the apocalyptic offerings of Permuted Press, which describes itself as “a publishing company that has published over 60 titles targeting the apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic, and survival horror fiction markets.”

Currently, Permuted Press is offering three books for free. I think these nicely represent the publisher’s catalog. You can find them here.

Want more? Okay, then. Permuted Press is having a 99¢ sale. A tasty selection of gory despair is on sale now through August 22, 2012. Check it out here.

These are time-sensitive links, so if any of this appeals to you, don’t wait. She who hesitates is lost… to the legions of the undead!

Please Note: I make no guarantee that any of these books will still be free or on sale when you click the above links.

Baen Free Library

Free Science Fiction and Fantasy eBooks


Baen Books has held a place in my heart as the publishers of one of my favorite authors, Lois McMaster Bujold. I fell in love with her Vorkosigan Saga after reading Shards of Honor. Though there are a number of books in the saga with different protagonists, anyone familiar with the saga knows that it’s all about Miles Vorkosigan. When I read the Warrior’s Apprentice, I was delighted to discover a wonderful series character, a dwarf protagonist determined to prove himself a true warrior. Fans of Game of Thrones’ Tyrion Lannister will probably also enjoy reading the adventures of Miles Vorkosigan.

Baen, along with publishing great science fiction and fantasy, has a library of free eBooks by its published authors. These books are formatted for a number of different eReaders.

This is a great place to find quality scifi and fantasy, so check it out. The Warrior’s Apprentice is offered as a free download. However, I recommend first buying and reading Cordelia’s Honor, which tells the exciting and romantic story of Miles’ parents.

Baen Free Library Books can be found here.

Cory Doctorow and Free eBooks

I woke up early this morning and while I was eating breakfast, I ruminated on reading and writing, and the effect eBooks have had on both. This got me thinking about one of the first free eBooks I downloaded, way before I had a Kindle.

I purchased a hardcover copy of Cory Doctorow’s “Little Brother” after hearing him interviewed on the radio. Read it. Loved it. Wanted to know more. I then read an interview where Doctorow spoke passionately about Creative Commons licensing and why he was offering “Little Brother” as a free download. I got a copy of the PDF more out of curiosity than anything.

It turns out that Doctorow, an activist as well as an author, offers many of his books and stories as free downloads. On his website, Doctorow answers the question, why do you give away your books?

Giving away ebooks gives me artistic, moral and commercial satisfaction. The commercial question is the one that comes up most often: how can you give away free ebooks and still make money?

For me — for pretty much every writer — the big problem isn’t piracy, it’s obscurity (thanks to Tim O’Reilly for this great aphorism). Of all the people who failed to buy this book today, the majority did so because they never heard of it, not because someone gave them a free copy. Mega-hit best-sellers in science fiction sell half a million copies — in a world where 175,000 attend the San Diego Comic Con alone, you’ve got to figure that most of the people who “like science fiction” (and related geeky stuff like comics, games, Linux, and so on) just don’t really buy books. I’m more interested in getting more of that wider audience into the tent than making sure that everyone who’s in the tent bought a ticket to be there.

What I particularly love is that Doctorow provides plain text, HTML and PDF copies of his work and then hosts other eReader formats sent to him by his fans. “Little Brother,” for example, has been formatted for a wide variety of eReaders.

I highly recommend getting into the tent and picking up one or more of his books for free. After having done so, I also highly recommend buying one or more of his books to show love and support for a creative, talented and generous author.

Cory Doctorow’s novels can be found here. Click on a novel to be taken to its page. Then look in the top navigation bar for “Download for Free” and click on that.

eBook Freebies – Libraries and Loans

Check it out at the library

Another way to read great eBooks for free is to visit your local library online. Many libraries allow you to check out eBooks. It’s very similar to checking out a book in the actual library. You are allowed to keep the book for a limited amount of time. There are no late fees because, unlike the hard copy, once your time is up, the book will simply disappear.

You don’t need money, but you do need a library card. Generally speaking, the card will need to be from your local library. For example, I have a card that is good for the Boulder Public Library system. This allows me to download books from the Front Range Downloadable Library. The supported formats are Kindle, Adobe EPUB and Adobe PDF. Audiobook downloads are available in the MP3 and WMA formats. The lending period is 14 days.

This is all sounds great, and it is, but, just like checking out a hard copy, the number of available eBook copies are limited. For example, there are long wait lists for currently popular books like “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter” and “The Tiger’s Wife.” But after some browsing around, you can probably find a title you like.

Give and take with Kindle loans

Let’s say you’ve just read a really good book on your Kindle and would like to loan it to a friend who also owns a Kindle. A large number of Amazon books are available to loan out. These don’t tend to be the big sellers, but those aren’t always the best books anyway.

To loan out a book, you’ll need to log into your account on Amazon and go to the Manage Your Kindle page. In your Kindle Library, you’ll notice pull-down menus marked “Actions” to the right of each book. If a book is available to loan, you will see “Loan this title” in the menu. Click on that and follow the instructions.

Kindle books can be loaned for a period of 14 days. During that period, you will not have access to your book. It’s the same as if you loaned the hard copy to a friend, except you are guaranteed its eventual return.

I don’t know about other eReaders and would be happy to hear if they, too, allow loans.

Borrowing and loaning are great ways to look into books and authors you’re uncertain about without having to make a permanent commitment. It takes a little extra effort but, hey, it’s free.

Don’t know if your local library provides eBooks? The library’s website should have more information. Another resource is Overdrive. Enter your zip code and you’ll be directed to a list of local libraries that provide eBooks.