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On e-Reader Tech News we track down the latest e-Reader news. We will keep you up to date with whats hot in the bestsellers section, including books, ebooks and blogs... and we will also bring you great e-reader tips and tricks along with reviews for the latest devices and accessories.

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Happy Birthday Jules Verne!

Jules VerneJules Verne was one of the first authors to venture into the Science Fiction genre during the mid to late nineteenth century.  He wrote about underwater, space and air travel years before their time.  Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, A Journey to the Centre of the Earth, and Around the World in Eighty Days are all available for free on your Kindle or Kindle DX.

Twenty Thousand Leagues features a submarine called Nautilus that was built to look like a fish.  Smart idea because this way warships are fooled into thinking it is a real fish.  The top fin of the submarine was used to destroy the ships.

As modern readers, some reviewers said that Twenty Thousand Leagues was really entertaining and a surprisingly good depiction of a modern invention.

Around the World in Eighty Days is full of adventure and other crazy shenanigans.  Phileas Fogg and his companion, Passepartout, set off with limited funds to make it around the world in eighty days.  By completing the task, they would win a large wager.  Along the way, they nearly get arrested, get attacked by Indians, and nearly lose each other through missed connections to various part of the journey.  It is crazy what lengths they have to go through to make each leg of the journey.  We have it easy with cars and airplanes!

Verne uses A Journey to the Centre of the Earth to education readers on life in ancient times such as the Ice Age and when the dinosaurs roamed the Earth.  This book kind of reminds me of the show “Land of the Lost”, where a father and his two kids fall through a crack in the road, and end up in the dinosaur age.  A Journey features Professor von Hardwigg, his nephew Harry, and their guide, Hans.  The professor believe that there were tubes in volcanoes that lead to the center of the Earth.  They come across many geological artifacts and other unexpected adventures.  This book is said to be the most outdated of all of Verne’s books, but it still has some merit in terms of how it looks at the earlier times.

The Collected Works of Jules Verne consists of 36 novels and short stories written by the author, including the three that I just mentioned.  This is a great deal, and the reviews are all really good.  I like that you can have all of Verne’s works in one place.

For a little more background on Jules Verne’s life, take a look at my Kindle Screensaver Blog post.

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.

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

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.

Some Free E-books from Forgottenbooks.org

Forgotten Books was recommended to me by a reader, Glynn, who, I’m guessing, is affiliated with this company.   Forgotten Books is an independent publishing company focused on reviving old print.

To tell the truth, I do not really like what Forgotten Books is doing with their free e-books feature.  And the reason being – their free e-books are in low quality .PDF format.  To attain a copy of a high-quality .PDF, a person has to pay a membership fee.  I have hard time understanding, why Forgotten Books are trying to charge for better quality .PDFs for the books that are free from copyright and generally available online for no cost.

Fol Tales From the RussianAlthough, they do have this e-book of the day for free feature – if you sign up for their subscription, you can download their book of the day in good quality .PDF for your Kindle for free.  Today’s book of the day is actually the reason, why I changed my mind and decided to write about this source.  Today’s book of the day is Folk Tales From the Russian by Verra Xenophontovna Kalamatiano de Blumenthal (first published in 1903).  The Tsarevna Frog, Father Frost, Baba Yaga and other awesome fellows!  This book is also available on Google Books (in .EPub and .PDF) and on Surlalunefairytales (online only) for free.  Also, it is available on Amazon for $1.75. Russian Folklore tales are wickedly good.   I sincerely encourage you looking into them.

So, I signed up for the subscription and downloaded Folk Tales From the Russian from Forgotten Books.  I have to say that putting a line through the e-book is very uncool of you, Forgotten Books.  Google Books’ version of this book is way better quality.

Perhaps, Forgotten Books’ other books of the day will be as cool as today’s.  And I hope they will improve their not-so-reasonable-for-now free e-book offers.

Free Kindle Books for Newbies

Alice
What is the first thing a new Kindle owner does? Right! The dance of joy. Okay, but the next thing?

Dorian GrayAs for me, it was the diving into the ocean of Amazon’s free classics I always wanted to read, but did not have the patience to. Now – guess what, when I’m stuck on an airplane, frankly, I have no escape. Also, getting free classics from Amazon, with their 1-Click feature, is the most convenient way for me to upload the books on Kindle.

Great Expectations – one day I’ll read it, maybe, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I haven’t read it yet. Click.
Well, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is my sacred text I always have on my bedside. Click.
The Picture of Dorian Gray – to have it in my pocket always available for re-reading.  Upload.
The Sayings Of Confucius – to impress one professor I know.  Click.
The Prince – for the same purposes as the book mentioned above.  Click.
Prince

However, remember that with free cheese there is always a catch. According to Amazon’s reviewers, some of these books are sloppily edited (missing certain passages and such), which completely ruins the experience if you are trying to savor one of your most favorite books. On the other hand, if you want to get familiar with some works for the general education purposes and you are not planning on conducting an in-depth analysis of this or that character, then perhaps the imperfect, but free editions will suffice for you.

Also, Amazon has a page with limited time offers for certain e-books. Some e-books are listed for a nominal price, some are cheaper than usually, and some are free.

Free Kindle Books on Feedbooks

Feedbooks is a book store, selling books and e-books with an unpredictable price deviation in comparison the Kindle Books on Amazon.  Some books are cheaper and some books are more expensive than Amazon’s selection.  So, before buying a book from Amazon, perhaps, you would want to check it out on Feedbooks first.  You might save a dollar, or two.  Or not.

FitzgeraldHowever, e-books are being sold all over the internet.  Finding places where to buy e-books is not that challenging any more.  So, from this point of view, Feedbooks’ selection of priced books is not much of an interest for me.  I’m on the quest of finding free e-book libraries for your Kindle.  And if you click on “Public Domain” section, Feedbooks provides a limited, but still worthy of checking out selection of free e-books.  The registration for downloading the free e-books is optional.

ForsterOnce you found that special book for your solitary enjoyment, do not press “download” immediately.  It will automatically download the e-book in EPuB format.  Click on the book’s title and then you will have a choice of downloading the book in PDF or “Kindle” format, which is actually .MOBI.

As I already said, by all means, it is not a large free e-book library.  However, you can still find Fitzgerald’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which is not available on Amazon for free (the prices vary from $0.95 to $11.99).  Also, there is Cory Doctorow’s I, Robot available for free (not available in Kindle Books on Amazon).  And those, who complained about free Kindle Edition of E. M. Forster’s A Room with a View (missing passages and such), give it a try to this version on Feedbooks, maybe it is better.

Happy reading.

Kindle Screensavers – What Do They Mean?

Ever wondered about the story behind the Kindle and Kindle DX screensavers?  Here are a few tidbits about them.  If you ever get a chance to go to New England, you will find the artifacts of the lives of many of these famous literary figures.

Famous Authors, Playwrights and Poets

Harriet Beecher Stowe – She is the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  Stowe was born on June 14, 1811 and was the daughter of the well known religious leader, Lyman Beecher.  Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a revolutionary anti slavery novel that set the anti slavery movement into motion.  Stowe publicly spoke out against slavery and included her views in her other writings.  She wrote 20 books total.  You can visit her house in Hartford Connecticut.  It is right beside the Mark Twain house.

Mark Twain – One of my favorite authors.  He wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  Both are hilarious, and I love the way Twain writes in the the jilted dialogue that they speak in.  His house is in Hartford, Connecticut, and is a sight to see.

John Steinbeck – Also a favorite of mine.  His most well known novel is The Grapes of Wrath, which is set during the Great Depression, and follows a family of Oklahoma sharecroppers who face economic hardship and desperation.  They somehow manage to hold on to a glimmer of hope for the future as they travel to California to find work and a better future.  Of Mice and Men is another one of his famous works and describes the tragic journey of two ranch workers, one of whom is mentally retarded.

Agatha Christie – Bestselling writer of detective novels.  She has sold 4 billion copies of her novels which is the most copies of books sold short of the Bible.  Many of her books are available on the Kindle, including the Secret Adversary, which is free.

Jane EyreCharlotte Bronte – Well known for her novel, Jane Eyre.  This is a gripping story that involves many plot twists and turns, a tragic fire and a crazy ex wife.

James Joyce – He is most well known for his book, Ulysses.  The protagonist, Leopold Bloom and the other characters of this book are modeled off of Homer’s Odyssey.  Ulysses is one of the greatest works of modern literature.

Virginia WoolfMrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse are two of her most major literary contributions. Woolf struggled mentally with sexual abuse and from nervous breakdowns following the death of her mother and father.  You will find her life experiences reflected in her works.

Alexandre Dumas – He began his career as a playwright, but later switched to novels including Count of Monte Cristo and The Three MusketeersThe Count of Monte Cristo chronicles the resurgence of Napoleon and the events of the Bonaparte family’s reign.  The novel gets its name from an island that Dumas visited where Louis Napoleon, Napoleon’s cousin was imprisoned. It also discusses the racial prejudice against his father, who was of Haitian descent and a general in the French Army.  The Three Musketeers features d’Artagnan, a guard over the musketeers.  The three musketeers are three friends who have an extremely tight bond.  They look after each other at all times.  This novel is the first of three novels in a series called the d’Artagnan Romances.

Jules Verne – One of the founders of science fiction.  Well, what was considered science fiction in the nineteenth century that is.  His novels, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, The Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Around the World in Eighty Days all explored sea and space travel before they were even invented.  Considering how mainstream those are now, it is really interesting to have historical reference to these ideas as something far fetched or futuristic.

Emily Dickinson – Most of her fame came after her death when most of her poems were Emily Dickinsondiscovered.  She lived in the Dickinson family homestead in Amherst, Massachusetts her whole life with the exception of her brief stint at Mt. Holyoke Seminary.  Death of loved ones throughout her life resulted in a great struggle with depression.  I visited her grave not too long ago, and got a glimpse of her house.  The Complete Poems by Emily Dickinson is available on the Kindle

Jane Austen – For more information about Jane Austen and her novels, check out the Pride and Prejudice Kindle Blog Post or the Jane Austen Kindle Blog post.  She does a great job of capturing the social atmosphere of the early nineteenth century.

Durer – An important figure in the Northern Renaissance and one of the first European landscape artists.

Authors Formerly Used as Screensavers

Edgar Allan Poe – He is known for introducing the detective-fiction genre and also was a contributed to the science fiction genre. His poem, “The Raven” was a huge success.  Poe completed one semester at the University of Virginia, but left due to lack of money.  He also tried and failed as an officer’s cadet.  So, you can probably see how his life struggles influenced the tone of his writings.

Oscar Wilde – An Irish writer, playwright and poet, his most well known works are The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being EarnestEarnest is a play that puts a humorous spin on the Victorian social scene.

John Milton
– He served under Oliver Cromwell during a time of religious and political upheaval in England.  His most famous work is Paradise Lost, an epic poem about Adam and Eve, their fall from grace and the consequences that follow.  This poem does a great job of exploring the major issues of the time.

Lewis Carroll – Author of the famous Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.  His tales are unique and great for the imagination.

Symbols and Paintings

Sibylla Samia – depiction of the ancient Greek priestess who prophesied Jesus’s birth in the stable.

“Albertus” page – glyphic, serif font named after the thirteenth century German philosopher Albertus Magnus

Hercules Constellation – Fifth largest constellation and is named after the Greek mythological hero Heracles.  The constellation was named by the ancient astronomer Ptolemy.

Man at table with lion in foreground

17th century astronomer & his wife w/ giant sextant

the Audubon finches-in-a-tree

Fish

Illuminated page with Iohannis aquila in upper right corner

Cathedral floorplan

Woman with Book

Kindle 3

Kindle Themed Screensavers

Kindle definition – formerly one with falling letters, now it is the definition with a tree in the background.

Kindle feedback request w/ some sort of coding machine – On the Kindle DX, the feedback email is [email protected]

These are all of the ones I’ve found so far, if you know of any others that I may have missed, let us know!

Some Free E-books on Free-ebooks.net

I am slightly disappointed with www.free-ebooks.net for trying to rip off fellows Kindle-ers, but it might be useful for someone, so I will hide my judging stare away.

111 Egg RecipesI have many problems with this site.  The first one is the domain name – “free ebooks” is kind of a way overboard name for a site with such limited availability of the actual free e-books.

Another issue with this site is that .MOBI format is available only for an upgraded membership.  They have e-books in .PDF format for no charge, but here is the catch – you can download only 5 books per month for free.

One more minor annoyance: they require users to register for downloading e-books.

Also, the site’s content is poorly edited – some book titles have typos, sometimes authors’ names are missing and so on.

So, yes, the site is limiting from all ends.  However, the selection and variety of the books is quite large.  The library is not restricted by the usual classics, to the availability of which we are so used to.  I enjoyed the quantity of “100 Recipes of Something-Something” type of cook books: 111 Egg Recipes, 300 Chicken Recipes, 300 Recipes for the Grill and so on.  I also liked the selection in the Tutorials section.  There are books like: Build Your Own Home Theatre, An Introduction to Pipe Band Drumming, or even How to Create a Garden Pond.

Hence, if you are looking for a very specific book, this is a good back-up source.

Free E-books from BookRix

Here is another emerging resource with free books – bookrix.com. This is not the largest e-book library in the world; it has a little bit less than 13,000 books available for your pleasure. The site has a good and clean design and it is not overwhelmed by ads.

The downside of this library is that it is less Kindle-friendly as we are used to. BookRix offers books in EPub format and that means conversion for the Kindle crowd. Hello, Calibre.

Edgar PoeThere is an optional registration for the book lovers, which is actually a good thing – BookRix has a pretty solid roster of active users. I like when e-book libraries have user involvement, because that usually means there are book reviews. And book reviews help me in deciding which new and unusual book to pick.Joseph Conrad

So if you were thinking to read good old Edgar Poe’s The Raven for free, then welcome to BookrRix ($0.99 on Amazon). Also, BookRix has Joseph Conrad’s Mirror of the Sea available for free ($0.95 on Amazon).

BookRix is an emerging-author-friendly site. So, if you are hiding your first book creation under the pillow, not sure if the world is ready to buy it, but kind of, hesitantly, but surely, want the world to read it for free, then Bookrix has a good audience for you. Try it out! Maybe your baby will get harrypotter-popular!

And, of course, if you are not a snobby classics-only avid reader, then perhaps you will discover a young author you will fall in love (of literary admiration, that is).
Enjoy.