With all that has been going on in the world, a lot of people are discovering e-books for the first time. As a veteran of this area of modern technology, I thought I would share some of what I’ve learned about finding cheap and free books as well as uses an e-book reader has for writers.
Much of this focuses on the Kindle. There are several models available at any given time, but my own e-reader of choice is the Paperwhite. Why? The screen is easier on the eyes than paper books. Seriously! I can read for more hours in the evening on my Paperwhite than I can physical books, even with good lighting. Some of the more expensive models connect to the Internet, but do you really want to be online when you’re attempting to read? I don’t.
Other models of e-readers have their adherents. Kobo is still popular and the Nook is still around, if not as much since B&N started closing stores. Both of these use Epub files, which are available on their own sites as well as Smashwords. For the best selection and the sales lists primary focus, I’m afraid Kindle has the largest market share. Their formats can be read through an app on phone, tablet or desktop, but none of these are as easy on the eyes as the actual Kindle.
Still, if you prefer to read on a tablet, phone or computer rather than investing in a new device, the apps for Kindle are free and my purpose here is to tell you how to get the best value out of obtaining electronic books.
There are multiple ways of obtaining books, completely free. First of all is Amazon’s own Top 100 free. I find this page harder to find over time but I keep a bookmark for it at https://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Kindle-Store-eBooks/zgbs/digital-text/154606011/
Any genre you like will have a selection of books going temporarily free. I check my favourite genres from time to time. To acquire these, you need some sort of Kindle device or app. It gets sent straight to your chosen device. Be sure to always check that it’s still free before clicking the BUY NOW button!
Do you like Classics? Most of them are available for free at http://www.gutenberg.org. These you have to download to your computer and transfer to your reading device manually, or you can open them with one of the apps and add to your library.
Anything that is old enough to be out of copyright is worth searching on Gutenberg. The advantage to this site is that you can choose your format. Even read on screen if you want to!
Want some good books cheap, or to read a popular book but the prices are outrageous?
There are many lists you can join to get notified of books on sale. A lot of these will be indie books, but occasionally I see big names go by and I’ve discovered some real gems among the lesser known authors! One I follow is readingdeals.com but there are many more.
Got your eye on a specific book? One of the best sites I’ve discovered is ereaderiq.com. This is Kindle specific, but you list the ASIN numbers for books you want and choose how much you’re willing to pay. When there’s a price drop, you get an email. That’s it. I’ve had big name author books for .99 – 1.99 when they were on sale for just a day.
One more site worth following for both indie and some name authors, all formats, is Smashwords.com They have many free books, but also authors can release discount coupons at any time and twice a year they have massive sales where book prices are dropped as much as 75% or free!
With the resources listed above, no reader need suffer for lack of reading material, even under strict lock-down conditions. And you might just discover new, wonderful authors!
So far I’ve been talking mainly to readers, but apart from the fact that all writers are readers, how is an e-reading device useful to authors? There is the obvious, the selling opportunities through the resources above, but my Kindle has become an invaluable editing tool.
We all know how sneaky those typos and other small anomalies can be. I’ve found a good way to catch them is to put a copy of the book on my Kindle and read a chapter at a time in the evening, taking notes of anything I find to correct the next morning. Somehow getting away from the computer screen helps to look at the manuscript with fresh eyes.
If you want to do this before releasing the book into the wild, just put it on pre-order and download a mobi file you can put on your Kindle. Give yourself enough time to read through and make corrections before uploading the finalised file. To get the file, go to the bottom of the KDP content page and click the arrow that says Preview on your computer. Select mobi and download, then transfer to your device like any other computer file.
This also gives you a copy in Kindle format you can give to reviewers!
Alternatively, if you make a copy with large print (22 pt works well) and convert it to PDF with a program like Cute PDF Writer [https://cutepdf.com/products/cutepdf/writer.asp], you can add it to a Kindle manually.
So there we are. Gazillions of cheap or free reading opportunities and a valuable editing tool. No need to leave the house or take any risks. Anyone still struggling to get best value out of a new Kindle since lock-downs?
Books available at: