Sunday, August 12, 2012

Free E-books

When I bought my Kindle last summer, the biggest drawback in my mind was that I'd end up spending more money on books. Even though e-books are cheaper, I so rarely purchase books that cost was definitely a factor. At the time, I saw myself using it mainly for travel purposes, which made the additional cost worth the portability. Since then, I've tried a few times to figure out how to download e-books from my local library, but even though they do have a system, it's apparently so confusing that the librarians themselves don't understand it- or the three that I've asked haven't, anyway. So I've been paying for my Kindle books since last summer, which means I haven't been using it exclusively. I still read "real" books more often.

Fortunately, I recently stumbled on a few different methods of reading e-books for free. We recently signed up for Amazon Prime, partly for the free shipping, and partly for the free TV episodes. (Did you know that the thousands of episodes of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood are free with Amazon Prime? Well, they are! Not that this will be useful to the baby for a couple of years, but it was certainly exciting to us.) One of the other perks of Prime is a free e-book to borrow once a month from their Kindle lending library. I took advantage of this right away. You can't get any book that you want, but the selection is quite large. I found myself more willing to try new authors and genres because I wasn't worried about the price. The first book I borrowed was called Better Off Without Him- A Romantic Comedy, by Dee Ernst. I wouldn't have spent money on this initially, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was well-written, funny and light. Another romance novel success for this non-believer. (See A Fairy Tale Quartet for the full story on my romance-novel inexperience.)

Once I'd started borrowing from the Kindle lending library, I got a few emails from Amazon suggesting their other free book options (does that sound like a smart marketing strategy to you? I assume there must be some statistic that people who borrow for free also spend more money in the store). It turns out that there are thousands of books that can be borrowed either directly from Amazon or from other open-library sources. Most are public-domain kinds of books, like Huckleberry Finn or Northanger Abbey, but that is no drawback in my book (no pun intended). It just encourages me to read more classic novels, which has been a recent goal of mine (see my most recent post, Back to the Literature.) I started with My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse and a favorite childhood book, A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I can't wait to read both.

It's an opportune time for me to discover this cache of free books, because I can see using my Kindle a lot more during those long feeding sessions in my near future, when reading a heavy book with two hands would not be possible, but a light one-handed e-reader would. Another check in the pro-Kindle column for this reader.

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