Due to copyright concerns it can be difficult to find free books online, however, there are several solutions to that problem, I’ll write about a few of them here along with some options for buying e-books online.
Project Gutenberg An archive of public domain books, they have more than 42,000 titles from every subject you can think of. They are not only free to read books, but being in the public domain you are free to use them in any way you want, from rewriting the story with the same characters to republishing them with or without modification. Take for example the original story of Tarzan, as many of the books were published before 1921, the most recent public domain cut off date, you can use the books and the character in your own stories. Note: Tarzan, the name itself is trademarked to prevent this, so you might change the name to Zantar or Tublat Zan, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ original names for the famous loin clothed ape-man.
Google Books is another option, with a massive collection of books that includes some books that are in the legal grey area of copyright, books that might be protected but the owner of the copyright cannot be determined. Google Books also offers previews of currently available books, much like Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature. Their collection of educational texts is unrivaled and Google Books has the largest collection of books, in at least an abbreviated form, allowing users to make informed purchases.
Amazon is another option, with their free previews of books they sell, as well as their huge Kindle marketplace where you can buy everything from the latest best sellers to obscure independently published works. Prices range from $.99 to $5.99 for the indie press and higher for big name book or bestsellers.
Kobo is one of the most popular sites next to Amazon, and they offer the opportunity to read books on many different e-book devices and operating systems. They boast over a million free books on their site and have both indie and mainstream press offerings. They are an international website with localized services in dozens of countries where amazon and others only serve certain regions and languages.
Smashwords is another large book retailer that focuses specifically on independent publishers and authors trying to get their stories out to the world. They have partnered with many different e-book readers including Aldiko, a popular software for the Android operating system that incorporates the Smashwords library directly through their shopping cart. A great option to buy and read books on the fly.
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