Kindle Book Recommendations: Classics

One of the biggest advantages of something like a Kindle is supposed to be the amazing savings that one can expect from owning such a device.  Books should be cheaper, according to the vision that many had of what eReading was going to be.  Obviously we have not quite realized that dream, with publishers keeping eBooks at prices similar to hardcover books, but all is not lost!  There are hundreds of authors releasing free or nearly free books every day through the Kindle Direct Publishing system.  So many, in fact, that it is all but impossible to even keep up with a list, let alone read them all. There are plenty of established successes to draw on even now, though, while I try to come up with a decent list of newer authors to pass along to you.  (I would welcome suggestions at [email protected])

The often overlooked, or at least undervalued, source of cheap literature is older titles that have fallen out of copyright.  Sometimes they’ve fallen very far out of copyright.  For a while, it was pretty obnoxious to even try looking through these books in the Kindle Store since anybody who felt like going through the effort could post their own copy in hopes of making a few dollars.  In the past several months they have made a major effort to clean things up and remove duplicate copies.  It’s a mixed blessing since some of the approved ones remaining seem to be bad OCR copies rather than something a person has actually looked over, but suddenly it is a lot easier to find interesting things to read.

Now, a lot of people definitely seem to think that the so-called ‘classics’ are by definition dry and hard to get through.  I certainly wouldn’t recommend Bleak House to a Harlequin fan, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of perfectly approachable titles out there to take a look at.  Here’s a few that I hope you’ll find enjoyable.  Not all are free, mainly in cases where free copies were poorly formatted to the point of being hard to read, but all are under $3.

She by H. Rider Haggard

You’ve got an ancient family mystery dating back thousands of years, a secret society hidden in the heart of the unknown, supernatural powers, and near immortality.  This would be an amazing movie, if only the reaction to certain scenes involving the treatment of death wouldn’t be so extreme.

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

Everybody knows the broad outlines of the story, from movies if nothing else, but you miss a lot without reading the book.  Some of the most hilariously flawed ‘heroes’ that you are ever likely to read about.  You may be surprised by how off base your expectations are, if you’ve never read it before

Sherlock Holmes Collection by Arthur Conan Doyle

Another selection that a surprising number of people have never given a chance to.  This particular collection contains all four of the novels and 46 short stories, which I believe make up the whole out-of-copyright collection.  It’s been said that what fascinates people about Holmes is not the process he uses, but how much fun it is to watch him do it.  Give it a try for yourself.

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

This book is a great suspense/mystery book with just a little bit of the fantastic thrown in.  It is really a fun time overall and has quite possibly the best villain ever(who was, coincidentally, modeled physically on the author himself according to many accounts!)  This one would be worth it for that character alone.

Free Kindle Books For New Owners

There’re any number of new Kindle owners out there now, thanks to the holiday gift giving season.  Mayhaps you picked one up for yourself, but chances are good that many new owners are those who didn’t see it coming.  The first thing you’re going to want to do, of course, is get some reading done!  The fact that the Kindle is one of the few eReaders to come with no preloaded content can be a bit off-putting to new users for exactly this reason, but there are options! You just have to know where to look.

Kindle Classics

The easiest books to find cheaply, or in this case freely, have always been those out of copyright pieces that nobody really has any claim to.  If you’re interested in classic literature, and I’m going to assume that you are, then you want to check out the Kindle Popular Classics section of the Kindle Store.  They have thousands of titles sitting around for you at no cost that you are almost certain to recognize.

Didn’t find what you were looking for there?  The major standby for free classics is, of course, Project Gutenberg.  They have everything you can think of, in most cases, but it’s a little bit harder to use since it means an extra step to get those .mobi files to your eReader.  Still, with 33,000+ books to choose from it might be worth the dragging and dropping to your Kindle via USB.  Technically you can even download these and email them through the Whispernet wireless delivery option, but that might well cost you a few cents and it isn’t that much more convenient unless you completely lack USB ports free.

Other sites endorsed by Amazon as great options are,, and  You’ll find a lot of overlapping content, but each has its own uniquenesses.

Promotional Freebies

You’ve got two main types here.  The easiest one to find in any quantity is the Kindle Limited Time Promo listing.  From time to time authors or publishers find it beneficial to push new authors, books, games, etc by giving them away and spreading the potential word of mouth range a bit.  Take advantage!  You might not find any of your favorite authors on here, but it’s a great place to try to find something new.

The other type can be a little bit harder to come up with.  In this age of self-publishing, some authors will throw out their first couple books, or the first couple in a series, for free on an ongoing basis.  As yet I haven’t found a reliable way to search specifically for this as a category, but look around and check some reviews and you’re likely to have some luck at least coming in cheaply.

Overall, your options are plentiful even without spending a dime.  I’m not claiming these are all of your options, or even the best of them, but they are the easiest given the Kindle‘s lack of open format support.  If you’re new to the eReading marketplace, chances are you’ll have a good long while before you work through what you have available right off the bat.  Enjoy your new toys!