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.

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.

eBook Freebies – Smashwords

I have a Kindle Touch, so I tend to get my books, especially my freebies, from Amazon. However, as there are other eBook readers, there are also other eBook sources, even for freebies.

One of the best, in my opinion, is Smashwords. This publisher/distributor provides resources for independent, self-published authors. The website is simple to navigate and it’s easy to find the freebies, unlike other distributors (cough… Barnes & Noble).

Smashwords offers eBooks in a variety of formats, so you should be able to download what you want, regardless of eReader or app.

As I wandered through the freebies, two things caught my eye. One is that many of the offerings are an unusual length. You’ll find plenty of short stories and novella-length works, but also books that are less the 60K words or more than 100K words. It can be difficult, especially for a new author, to find a traditional publisher willing to take on a book that doesn’t fall within the 90-100K word length. This may be where such books find a home and readers.

I also noticed that a number of books were marked, “You set the price!” This means it’s free, but you can also pay the author if you’re so inclined. Nice touch.

Like Amazon, you must have a Smashwords account in order to download books.

Here are some examples of Smashwords freebies. Descriptions are provided by Smashwords.

The Chosen
(Free) Dawn lived an ordinary life, until the day she was Chosen. Through training and trials Dawn discovers the powers that have been lying dormant within her, showing her that she is anything but ordinary, and the small town life she had was full of mystery, adventure, intrigue, and a betrayal far beyond anything she could have imagined.

Black Static Magazine 19
(You set the price) Black Static is a bimonthly magazine of horror and dark fantasy fiction, first published 2007. Black Static contains original fiction and illustrations plus horror/dark fantasy related news and reviews of books, movies and DVDs. BS 19 has the print edition’s text, but some illustrations and graphics are omitted, the 2010 Anthology roundup and fiction from Simon Clark, Joel Lane, Lavie Tidhar

The Lady in Yellow
(You set the price) When young Veronica Everly takes a position as governess to a pair of identical twins, she did not expect them to join a family of werewolves, or to fall in love with her handsome employer, Rafe de Grimston. When Rafe makes her promise to redeem them all, she is faced with an agonizing choice. First she must uncover the mystery of the Lady in Yellow.

101 Tips and Techniques For Cooking Like a Chef
(Free) This cookbook provides general cooking guidelines and tips. There are chapters on Sauces and seasonings, meat and poultry, barbecuing, fruits and vegetables, pasta, rice and potatoes, and baking. The book concludes with bonus recipes. The purpose of the book is to provide key information in one easy to find location.