Free Kindle Textbooks

At first, when I came across this free e-book source, I was suspicious that this website will be our regular free e-book scam full of links that lead to anything, but the e-books. However, after some quality time spent on Open Culture, I was impressed by the textbook section.

To access it, press “Textbooks” on the right top corner. Though, the list of free textbooks is not very extensive, the variety of subjects is pretty nice: Linguistics, Physics, Mathematics, Political Science, Music, History, Biology, Economics & Finance, Engineering, Earth Science etc.

The textbooks are offered in various formats. The reason for this is that the books are hosted on different servers. This is a well selected collection of links that lead to text-books’ locations. For example, A Textbook of the History of Painting by John Charles Van Dyke is actually located on Project Gutenberg site. Hence, there is an option for downloading it in MOBI format for your Kindle. Introduction to Physical Oceanography by Dr. Robert Stewart is hosted by Texas A&M University and it is in PDF format. Calculus by Gilbert Strang is offered by MIT in PDF format.

Also, Open Culture collects the list of the usual classics and links for free audiobooks.

Open Source’s list of textbook perhaps is one of the better lists I’ve seen so far. Hopefully, you kindlized students out there will find this source useful. Happy studying!

Hank Moody Comes to Kindle

God Hates Us AllSo, I was stuck in San Francisco airport: sitting, standing, chilling, staring blankly at my Kindle (trying to look busy). I discovered that my Kindle is full of highly sophisticated literature that I always hope to read. I also discovered that I am completely incapable of reading anything with profound literary meaning and symbolism when I’m stuck in an airport. “Gimmi something brain-numbing” – I thought, as I shook my Kindle. Nothing really fell out from the Kindle because, as we all know, shaking is not exactly the most successful strategy of uploading literature on Kindle.

And then I saw it. I saw “Hank Moody” in the author section. God Hates Us All by Hank Moody! Those who recognize this name perhaps realize how intrigued I felt.

So, I bought it. And yes, I do not think that $11.99 is particularly cheap (oh, wow, and this is the sale price), but I was stuck in the airport desperate for some entertainment – and really, it is very difficult not to be entertained by a book inspired by Californication – the profane TV show full of drugs, sex, and rock-n-roll. How could I abstain from this bundle of joy?

I finished reading God Hates Us All in one sitting. No, it is not really thought-provoking. I did see some people attempting to make this easy-to-read book into something more meaningful by highlighting trivial phrases such as “Don’t let your perceptions of your circumstances limit your possibilities” (p. 54). Seventeen people highlighted “I don’t know what I’m talking about. My brain’s been running low on oxygen from the minute I saw you tonight” (p. 89) – I’m guessing it’s more of a pick-up line to-remember than anything else.

Even though, I’m being purposefully dismissive towards Hank Moody’s creation (I do not want you to have high expectations), the book is enjoyable and entertaining. And it effectively helped me to murder some time. Also, if you are a fan of Californication – come on, Hank Moody wrote it! (wink)

Design Your Own Kindle Cover

I find it highly amusing that the massive wave of gadget shopping produced another branch for shopping – gadget accessories. Not only we like to buy various gadgets to simplify/modernize our lives, but also we are enticed by the idea of dressing up these devices. The gadgets accessories are usually marketed as add-ons to your gadget that either somehow simplify the usage of it, protect it, and/or create a unique look for it.

So, I’m always on the hunt for fun-looking Kindle accessories. I like browsing Etsy for handmade Kindle covers because Etsy sellers consistently come up with fresh and funky-looking ideas.

When I saw M-Edge custom Kindle covers I realized this trend with Kindle covers took one more step further into the market. M-Edge offers a service for you to design your own Kindle 2/Kindle 3 cover.

You have a choice of:
– Uploading your own image;
– Adding a pattern: approximately sixty patterns to choose from;
– Adding color;
– Adding text with a choice of five fonts (Therano Old Style, Collaborate, Andron, Alexandria, and Scriptina); also you can choose the font color.
– And choosing the spine color: only black and brown for now.

Here is the M-Edge Youtube video that illustrates how it works in more details.

The custom Kindle cover costs $40 plus the shipping fee. According to the information posted in FAQ, M-Edge also ships internationally.

Hence, if you are experiencing the creative urge, but do not have time or desire to craft your own Kindle cover, sounds like M-Edge is an interesting option for you.

Handmade Kindle Covers

Leather Kindle CoverIf you are on a shopping spree and really feeling like dressing up your Kindle, then I’d be pleased to help you out. I find that there is something inexplicably charming, when people dress sup their gadgets in handmade accessories. Perhaps, Etsy really triggered this new fad of getting handmade covers for all sorts of gadgets.

Here are some options for unique handmade Kindle covers available via Etsy.

If you are into fancy-pants, leather covers – here is a beautiful orange Kindle cover, shipped from Hungary for $46 for the cover and $6 for shipping.

Merino Wool Kindle CoverIf soft, floral and quite expensive Kindle cover is your style then here is an option for you. That would cost $65 (holy smokes!) and $4.50 for shipping within USA. The same designer is selling a beautiful giraffe with dreamy eyes for the same (very high) price.

If spending $65 on a Kindle cover seems a bit excessive for you, then there are other fantastic options – such as this clutch style with square leather button Kindle cover for $25 with $4.95 shipping within US.

Also, this completely custom made e-reader cover (you have to specify which e-reader you have) – you can choose a button, the type of fabric on the outside and inside of the cover. This cover goes for $29.99 plus $2.50 for shipping within US.

If floral and giraffe designs is not quite your style, here is a very nice grey Kindle sleeve made from merino wool for $39.99 plus $5.50 for shipping. The same designer has a really nice hand dyed leather Kindle cover for $68.

And if you like to pretend like you are holding a hardcover book, while reading from your Kindle, then you might like this style for Kindle case for $34.99 plus $10 shipping within US.

Reactions to Free E-books

Lately, I can’t help myself but notice a new emerging movement of free e-books haters. Mind you, I’m not talking about the pirated free e-books haters. That emotional response to copyright infringement is congruent. I mean a group of people, who dislikes the fact that:

1) free e-books exist;

2) free e-books are popular among readers.

direct publishingWhere do I see these people? Well, they tend to hang out around Kindle-related websites leaving vehement anti-free e-books comments here and there. You probably know what I’m talking about.

To my astonishment, I discovered a common trait among the free e-book haters (how about I just call them FEH): they tend to be authors themselves. So, why would the wise writers be so against the fact that their fellow writer decided to offer his/hers work for free?

It appears that FEH perceive readers as ungrateful, evil crocodiles who only want to consume free stuff and never pay for the literary labor. Well, that’s just silly! A thankful reader, who enjoyed a freebie will always go looking for more books by the author he/she enjoyed.

So, I have a theory. You see, FEH usually are recently sprouted authors with one e-published work, with some useless subject matter, say How to Choose Your Paper Mate Pen Wisely: a Very Thorough Guide (sponsored by Paper Mate). So, if they put their sole literary child out there for free, then how would they make their first billion? And that’s how we get “Free e-books spoil people! Let’s close all the public libraries!” (© imaginary FEH).

Of course, this theory relies on a completely hypothetical situation, which is most likely absurdly inaccurate. However, the point is that Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) influenced publishing towards making it more accessible. As a result, the modern literary world not only expanded, but also became more commercialized. There are many emerging authors, who write not for the love of writing, but for the chance to “win” a lottery in publishing business. And the concept of free books is just standing in their way.

I hope I’m wrong about it. Although, if I’m somewhere close to the truth – dear FEH, your chances to make a fortune on a useless guide will come true only in case if a million of e-book shoppers will stumble and fall on “buy this guide” button. Or, it might be one unfortunate shopper – stumbling and falling a million times. Perhaps, you might need to reconsider changing a profession from a pure business person to a business person, who writes well. And very possibly, the hostility toward free e-books will somewhat diminish in its proportions.

Yours truly,

– one (e-)book(/guide) author

Free Kindle Books on Open Library

Open Library is an amazing non-profit project (partially funded by California State Library). It is trying to catalog book (and e-book) titles and their locations, thus creating a gigantic library. As Open Library owners describe, “One web page for every book ever published”. The idea is to be able to find any book’s location – be it in a store, library, or in electronic version. Open Library is an open project. Anyone can (and is encouraged to) participate: adding book titles, editing the existing catalogue, fixing typos. Also, their software and documentation are also open. There is no registration required for downloading free e-books. However, you need to register on Open Library if you want to participate in the project.

KindleI have to warn you: finding where to download a free e-book is not really intuitive in Open Library. To find a free e-book, you need to type the book title/author’s name in the search bar (there is also an advanced search option, where you can also look for a book by ISBN, subject, place, person, or publisher); check “Only show e-books”. On the results’ page the list of books will have one of three icons – borrow, DAISY, or read.  All the available e-books have the “read” icon beside the book title.  Press “read”.  It should open the book in read-online mode.  Press the icon “i” on the top right corner, next to the “play” option.  It will open a menu with available e-book formats: PDF, Plain Text, DAISY, ePub, and finally, my favorite, “Send to Kindle” option.  Ta-da!

As you might have noticed, other than “read”, there are two more icons appearing in the Open Library search results: “borrow” and “DAISY”. “Borrow” finds the book in the closest to your current location library (it searches by zip-code); and DAISY is a format for vision-impaired readers. According to Open Library, DAISY offers “the benefits of regular audiobooks, with navigation within the book, to chapters or specific pages.” You can find out more about DAISY on their official website.  As far as I understand, DAISY format is not that easily accessible.  One needs to get a key issued by the Library of Congress NLS program.

Quite frankly, I think I’m very impressed with Open Library’s book catalogue idea and its execution.

Some Thoughts on Free E-books

KindleHow often do you read free e-books on your Kindle? Always? Most of the time? Sometimes? Rarely? Does the fact that the book is free, make your reading process more enjoyable? Yes? No? Maybe?

As I’m looking for different sources for free e-books libraries, I come to conclusion that every single source for free e-books has some disadvantages. Aside from Project Gutenberg and ManyBooks.net (most of its books originate from Gutenberg), all of the free e-book libraries are highly commercialized. It really depends, which way a website owner decides to go – either infest a book catalogue’s pages with ads; create membership fees to highly disadvantage free membership’s choices; or even insert advertisement pages in the “free” e-books.

Of course, it’s understandable. There is absolutely no profit for these websites’ owners to invest their time in producing high quality free e-books. So, the free e-books theme is just a way for many to bring users to the website. And advertisements are their actual products. I see so many fake free e-book sites without real content – it’s starting to get on my nerves. It appears that all the domain names with “free e-books” are taken for these exact purposes. To find one site, be it with ads, but containing actual e-books, I go through ten fake ones.

I mean, really, ginormous kudos to Gutenberg for doing what they are doing. And if you are feeling generous, I do encourage you to make a donation to Gutenberg Project to keep them alive. It is tax-deductable.

Another issue with free e-books is that, of course, they are poorly edited. Even Amazon freebies’ content suffers in the quality: as some people noticed that most of Amazon Free Kindle books have editing errors (such as missing passages). Also, my beloved Gutenberg’s e-books are not all perfectly formatted. Read how to open KEY file.

Do you notice when a book is poorly edited? Does it bother you much?

Free E-books on Malay Archipelago in Sejarah Melayu Library

This source for free e-books, articles and academic papers will probably be appreciated by very particular type of readers. Sejarah Melayu Library’s resources focus on Malay Archipelago (also called Indonesian Archipelago) and surrounding areas. All e-books, articles and academic papers are available for your Kindle for free and in .PDF format.

WallaceBasically the library has seven sections:
General section contains miscellaneous materials on Malay Archipelago that (I am guessing) do not really fit into other categories.
Histories and Other References focuses on history and geography.
Travelogue is self-explanatory: travelers’ notes about Malay Archipelago.
Language section contains dictionaries & free grammar e-books.
Fiction consists of novels, fables, poetry and other literary materials that have connections to Malay Archipelago.
Papers and Articles section has journal articles and academic papers available for downloading.
News and Dispatches has historical newspapers, gazettes, chronicles, and reports.

The layout and navigation for Sejarah Melayu Library is straightforward. Notice that you need to press the tiny plus signs in the menu, instead of the titles. There is no registration required to use these materials. All documents I checked out were in good quality PDF.

I think, this is a precious source for the scholars doing a research on Malay Archipelago; intrigued travelers planning to visit the area; and those hungry for information polymaths.

In addition to Sejarah Melayu Library’s resources, Amazon offers somewhat outdated, but free Kindle Books on this topic:
The Malay Archipelago, the Land of the Orang-utan and the Bird of Paradise; a Narrative of Travel, With Studies of Man and Nature Volume I by Alfred Russel Wallace (Volume II is also available for free); Through the Malay Archipelago by Emily Richings; and Blown to Bits The Lonely Man of Rakata, the Malay Archipelago by R. M. (Robert Michael) Ballantyne.

Happy researching!

Free E-books for Newbies (Part II)

If you’ve been in relationship with your Kindle for a while now, then there is nothing new for you in this post. If you are new to the whole e-books searching process, then I will be proud to present you the best source for free e-books available on the internet.

Basically, the biggest chunk of free Kindle e-books is resting on the backs of two elephants: the aforementioned Amazon’s free e-book collection and Gutenberg project.

Don QuijoteGutenberg is the most gorgeous e-book project I have seen so far. It is almost twice as large as Amazon Classics. There is no registration needed for downloading e-books. There are no flashing and eye-irritating advertisements (compared to other free e-book libraries). Gutenberg e-books are available in Kindle-friendly .MOBI format; and usually, there is an option, whether you want to download a book with or without images.

Aside from the enormous collection of classics, Gutenberg has an impressive collection of books in foreign languages – Spanish, Greek, Latin, Russian, German, French, Japanese etc. Maybe I will finally fulfill my dream to read Don Quijote in the original.

It has the majority of well-known old texts, so if you are a History student – you will always be able to find some works of such authors like Herodotus, Thucydides, Plutarch etc.

The universal problem with the quality of free e-books does not escape Gutenberg. Most books are converted in MOBI format automatically, so there is no guarantee that the e-book will look perfectly on your Kindle.

Kindle 3G: The Long Saga How I Bought Kindle 3G and Some First Impressions

Last weekend I spent in Best Buy, waiting for the world’s slowest customer associate to bring me Kindle Wi-Fi.  During the [insert a large number here] minutes of me standing near the Kindle display, and the associate going back and forth: writing down, re-writing and double checking the code in order to check if they have any Kindle Wi-Fi’s in stock, I pondered about the world’s slowest turtles and the meaning of life.  After the eternity, I learned that they do not have any Kindle Wi-Fi’s left in stock.  A logical person would leave the store and perhaps, order the damn thing online.  An irritated person, however, grabs the available box with Kindle 3G with one hand, and holding a sweaty (by this time) Best Buy’s get 10% off coupon (the original reason, why I ended up in Best Buy) with another hand and heads over to the cashier.  Well, the coupon does not apply to Kindle, which says so (the cashier points into the tiny card) in very fine print.  Perhaps, a logical person gets pissed and walks away.  But not me, I like sticking to my plans and that is how I ended up getting Kindle 3G.

So here are my first impressions.

Impression #1: (as I unwrapped my purchase immediately in the car) OMG, it fits in my purse!!!

Impression #2: (as I got extremely hungry, while waiting for the world’s slowest customer associate, I went straight to the restaurant.  I started playing with my new Kindle and accidentally pressed the text to speech button) OMG, how do I turn off this Robocop’s voice reading Jane Austen?

And now, to the serious business.

Pages.  The page-turning buttons are extremely comfortably located.  Flip.  Flip.  Flip.  Ah, it feels nice.

Keyboard.  The arrow keys are hit and miss.  Sometimes, I click and nothing happens.  Sometimes, I do not click and the unwanted things occur.

Also, there is plenty of unused space between the keyboard and the screen: why not have a full keyboard (i.e.  include the number keys)?

Normal headphone jack instead of those annoying custom ones – awesome!

Text to speech feature: nice to have it, but I don’t think I will be using it at all.

Integrated dictionary: priceless!