Archive for the ‘Focus on Free’ Category

Google Play comes to NOOK tablets

May 3, 2013

Google Play comes to NOOK tablets

“And the walls come tumblin’ down…”

Barnes & Noble sent me a

press release

and then I saw this other places as well (including a heads-up from Joseph Holmberg, one of my readers.

Google Play is now going to appear on NOOK tablets.

This is an important tipping point moment.

Right away, I think people may see it on the surface as a tactical  move against Amazon’s Fire tablets. Amazon doesn’t have access to Play on their tablets: Barnes & Noble does.

Yes, people will certainly see that as a competitive advantage for Barnes & Noble. For people who haven’t decided which way to go, it gives B&N a big leg up.

However…

This goes much deeper than that. That is only the tip of the “hypeberg”, so to speak. ;)

Both Barnes & Noble and Amazon have been primarily content providers in the past. They have sold books, which I think most people would still see as Barnes & Noble’s main focus (I’m not sure everybody thinks of Amazon that way any more).

When B&N introduced the NOOK, it was a “reader’s tablet”. You used it to get content from B&N.

Now, suddenly, that’s not the focus of the device at all.

Let’s think of Barnes & Noble as…a restaurant.

You went in, and you bought what was on their menu.

Now, when you walk in and sit down, they give you their menu…but they also give you a super menu that has the menus for ten other major restaurant chains, and you can order from them. You want a Round Table pizza delivered to your Barnes & Noble table? Fine, no problem.

The restaurant’s own menu has almost nothing on it that isn’t on those other menus, and there is a ton more choices on the other menus.

Why would you order from the restaurant’s own menu at all? It means you have to look in two different places…and one of them almost always has what you want, and the other one doesn’t.

That’s a real question: why would Barnes & Noble continue to offer their own appstore, videos, or music? That’s a lot of work, which Google will do if they don’t.

Yes, Barnes & Noble would probably make more profit on their own “menu”, but not if it isn’t making many sales for them.

I didn’t mention books on purpose, but Google Play also has books. If they ramp up that part of the store, good luck to B&N in competing…even on their own tablets.

The NOOK line has just become a hardware business, not a content business.

That then brings in another question: will people continue to buy NOOK tablets if they see them as just another tablet choice? When they don’t see them as “Barnes & Noble’s reader’s tablets” but as a direct competitor to, say, the Nexus or a Samsung?

I really think this move could lead to Barnes & Noble getting out of the tablet business eventually, or it becoming just a minor sideline.

Now, there is another important point here.

Know what else is in the Google Play store?

The Kindle app.

My  understanding  is that this means that NOOK owners can just download the Kindle app from Google Play, and with no rooting, nothing fancy at all, enjoy their Kindle e-books on their NOOK tablets.

That’s an awful big celebrity to invite to your birthday party. ;) It makes it a little hard to keep the focus on you.

My guess is that there are some really significant changes in store (so to speak) for B&N in the next year, and this is part of it.

Should Amazon respond?

The first question is whether or not it is up to them.

While I see people blithely saying that Amazon just hasn’t paid some licensing fee to Google, I haven’t really found something that shows that is the case.

There are more references to Amazon and “walled gardens” on the internet than there are anacondas in the actual Amazon river. ;)

Amazon is actually pretty open. They allow installation of apps from “unknown sources”. I’ve done that several times…directly from sites, like Zinio, and from other resources, like 1Mobile.

I’m careful only to do it with apps I trust, since, naturally, I take the responsibility when I install an app Amazon hasn’t tested for the Fire.

That, by the way, is going to be another major headache for Barnes & Noble with this move. They are going to get so many Customer Service contacts (which are quite expensive) about things people have downloaded from Google Play that don’t work right on their NOOK tablets (or even just about how to play them). If B&N just keeps directing them somewhere else, that’s going to be a turn off.

Back to Amazon and competitors…Amazon has apps for competitors in their Amazon Appstore. For example, they have the Netflix app: a direct competitor for Amazon Instant Video.

Does every single flavor and variety of SmartPhone that wants to be listed as compatible on Google Play pay licensing fees? They might, certainly, but I don’t know that.

I think it’s quite possible that it has been Google that has not listed the Fire, rather than the Fire which has not been made compatible in some way with Google Play.

Being compatible would be different from having the Play store natively on your device (which is what I think the NOOK tablets will have)…the latter likely would require a fee.

Will we some day have access to Google Play on our Kindle Fires? I think that’s possible. I do think a key purpose of the Fire is to get people signed up for Prime, where they will then buy profitable physical products (“diapers and windshield wipers”). Having people buy from Google Play wouldn’t necessarily impact that. I also think it’s important to note that Amazon is a producer and supplier of video in a way that Barnes & Noble isn’t…however, I suppose they could make those things available in Google Play if they had the Play store on Fires.

I don’t think that’s going to happen right away in response to this move from Barnes & Noble.

If you are losing a hot air balloon race, you might start throwing everything over board to lighten the load…in this case, B&N is throwing over their own content provision for the tablets.

If you are in the lead, like Amazon, you can afford to keep those items on board…for now.

One other quick note: this does not impact the NOOK reflective screen devices (non-tablets). You don’t install apps on those, just as you don’t install apps on RSKs (Reflective Screen Kindles).

===

Bonus tip: I’m trying not to write just about the Fire in a post, when I can avoid it. :)

For those of you who have missed having the free Kindle store book listings at eReaderIQ.com, try

http://www.freereadfeed.com/

I’m hoping to give you a bit more information about it soon.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

100 years ago: free books from 1913

January 22, 2013

100 years ago: free books from 1913

It is the year 1913 (one hundred years ago). Democrat Woodrow Wilson has defeated Republican incumbent William Howard Taft, Progressive Party (Bull Moose) Teddy Roosevelt, and Socialist Eugene V. Debs. The War to End All Wars (World War I…The Great War) is a year away from starting.

Women’s suffrage is in the news in the USA (of which there are 48 states), although it won’t become the law of the land until 1920.

Silent movies are popular (sound is more than a decade away). One features Barney Oldfield, daredevil automobile driver (who would become the first person clocked at driving sixty miles per hour on an oval track).

Books are also enjoyed by the masses. Similar to Harry Potter in our time, there were Oz book clubs and lines for the next one in the series. People are also reading serialized stories in pulp magazines, which might later be published in book form (I’m including ones here that first appeared in 1913). Those magazines might cost a dime.

Let’s take a look at some of the books from 1913 you can get for free (they are all in the public domain in the USA).

Pollyanna
by Eleanor H. Portman

The term “Pollyanna” is still used to describe someone with a perpetually optimistic outlook, although it may now be done in a way that is less than complimentary. This children’s novel went on to have more than ten sequels, and several movie adaptations. I suspect many readers of this blog first became familiar with it through the Disney Hayley Mills version (Pollyanna).

Sons and Lovers
by D.H. Lawrence

Considered…improper by some at the time, it is now cited as a great novel.

Return of Tarzan
The Gods of Mars
by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Bursting on to the scene the previous year with Tarzan and A Princess of Mars (introducing John Carter), Burroughs fans could read the second books in those series syndicated in pulps. It’s hard to overestimate the pop cultural impact Burroughs has had (especially for geeks like me…but not limited to us).

The Bobbsey Twins at School
The Bobbsey Twins at Snow Lodge
By “Laura Lee Hope”

Before television series, even before radio series, there were book series. From what I can tell, there were two published that year, which tells you about the demand for these children’s books. Certainly, they have lasted into contemporary times, even spawning modernized versions.

The Patchwork Girl of Oz
by L. Frank Baum

Speaking of series, L. Frank Baum had tried to end his popular Oz series three years earlier by having the Land of Oz isolated from the rest of the world through magic. Well, popular demand was so high, that this book restored contact…through wireless! It introduces Scraps, the Patchwork Girl (a doll brought to life). Scraps is a popular character, with a cosmic fool personality mind of her own.

The Valley of the Moon
by Jack London

London had become famous with the rough and tumble tales The Sea Wolf and White Fang. In the next few years, the author wrote more experimental works, like Before Adam and, in 1912 (“last year” in this post), a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel, The Scarlet Plague. Valley of the Moon is a much more realistic piece. It involves a working class couple in Oakland who set off to find farmland to own, and interact with some of the interesting people in the greater San Francisco area where London lived.

O Pioneers!
by Willa Cather

A still popular novel of rural America.

Theodore Roosevelt; an Autobiography
by Theodore Roosevelt

Roosevelt had already been President..and was a beloved author. In 1912, a split with the Republican party (and more specifically with Taft) over anti-trust (Roosevelt felt Taft had been too aggressive). Despite having run in the primaries as a Republican, Roosevelt split off from the party to run as Progressive (the “Bull Moose party”).

So, enjoy your literary time trip to one century ago? Hm..I wonder what books published in 2013 will still be popular in 2113?

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Ten random public domain freebies #3

January 3, 2013

Ten random public domain freebies #3

This is the third in a series. I’ve expanded the listings by including the opening* of the book, to replicate that feeling of opening a book and reading it a bit to see if you like itIf my random search returns a title from one of the previous posts, I’ll randomize again.

One of the things people say they miss when shopping online is that sense of random discovery you get in a physical store.

When you go online, you tend to search for something specific.

When you walk in a store, you never know what you’ll find. Heck, they might even have changed where the sections are.

That was especially true of used bookstores. I loved finding some obscure old title…the kind you couldn’t figure out how it ever got published in the first place.

Alternatively, maybe it was something that was clearly popular at one time.

The point is, you never quite knew what you’d see.

So, I decided to replicate that experience.

When you do a search at Amazon, you can only see 400** results.

I used

http://www.ereaderiq.com/search/

to limit my search to free public domain titles, and to rank the results by popularity.

Next, I used

http://www.random.org/integers/

to find me ten random numbers from 1 to 400.

The books below are the results of that search…have fun wandering down the aisle!

#7. Oliver Twist
by Charles Dickens
original publication: 1837

Originally serialized, later adapted for movies or TV more than 25 times, Oliver Twist is one of those books that has truly had a lasting impression on readers for generations.

Opening:

TREATS OF THE PLACE WHERE OLIVER TWIST WAS BORN
AND OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES ATTENDING HIS BIRTH

Among other public buildings in a certain town, which for many reasons it will be prudent to refrain from mentioning, and to which I will assign no fictitious name, there is one anciently common to most towns, great or small: to wit, a workhouse; and in this workhouse was born; on a day and date which I need not trouble myself to repeat, inasmuch as it can be of no possible consequence to the reader, in this stage of the business at all events; the item of mortality whose name is prefixed to the head of this chapter.

For a long time after it was ushered into this world of sorrow and trouble, by the parish surgeon, it remained a matter of considerable doubt whether the child would survive to bear any name at all; in which case it is somewhat more than probable that these memoirs would never have appeared; or, if they had, that being comprised within a couple of pages, they would have possessed the inestimable merit of being the most concise and faithful specimen of biography, extant in the literature of any age or country.

#130: Shirley
by Charlotte Brontë
original publication: 1849

Brontë’s second novel after Jane Eyre, it has not had the sort of cultural impact of Dickens’ Twist, but was very popular in its day. I didn’t know this, but apparently, its how the name Shirley became common as a name for a woman (having been around as a name for men before that). Similar to the Dickens novel, it puts a human face on difficult social circumstances. In this case, it even involves questions of technology…machines replacing human workers.

Opening:

LEVITICAL.

Of late years an abundant shower of curates has fallen upon the north of England: they lie very thick on the hills; every parish has one or more of them; they are young enough to be very active, and ought to be doing a great deal of good. But not of late years are we about to speak; we are going back to the beginning of this century: late years—present years are dusty, sunburnt, hot, arid; we will evade the noon, forget it in siesta, pass the midday in slumber, and dream of dawn.

If you think, from this prelude, that anything like a romance is preparing for you, reader, you never were more mistaken. Do you anticipate sentiment, and poetry, and reverie? Do you expect passion, and stimulus, and melodrama? Calm your expectations; reduce them to a lowly standard. Something real, cool, and solid lies before you; something unromantic as Monday morning, when all who have work wake with the consciousness that they must rise and betake themselves thereto. It is not positively affirmed that you shall not have a taste of the exciting, perhaps towards the middle and close of the meal, but it is resolved that the first dish set upon the table shall be one that a Catholic—ay, even an Anglo-Catholic—might eat on Good Friday in Passion Week: it shall be cold lentils and vinegar without oil; it shall be unleavened bread with bitter herbs, and no roast lamb.

#137: Thrilling Narratives of Mutiny, Murder and Piracy A weird series of tales of shipwreck and disaster, from the earliest part of the century to the present … escapes and heart-rending fatalities.
by Anonymous
original publication: unknown

Interestingly, I didn’t find much about this one at all…not even a publication date. That’s the sort of quirky thing I might have expected to find in a used bookstore. :)

Opening:

PREFACE.

Shipwreck may be ranked among the greatest evils which man can experience. It is never void of danger, frequently of fatal issue, and invariably productive of regret. It is one against which there is the least resource, where patience, fortitude and ingenuity are in most cases, unavailing, except to protract a struggle with destiny, which, at length, proves irresistible.

But amidst the myriads unceasingly swallowed up by the deep, it is not by the numbers that we are to judge of the miseries endured. Hundreds may at once meet an instantaneous fate, hardly conscious of its approach, while a few individuals may linger out existence, daily in hope of succor, and at length be compelled to the horrible alternative of preying on each other for the support of life. Neither is it by the Narratives about to be given that we are to calculate on the frequency of shipwreck. It is an event that has been of constant occurrence since a period long anterior to what the earliest records can reach. In England it is calculated that about 5000 natives of the British Isles yearly perish at sea.

#145: Polly and the Princess
by Emma C. Dowd
original publication: 1917

Opening:

CHAPTER I

WAFFLES AND DEWLAPS

The June Holiday Home was one of those sumptuous stations where indigent gentlewomen assemble to await the coming of the last train.

Breakfast was always served precisely at seven o’clock, and certain dishes appeared as regularly as the days. This was waffle morning on the Home calendar; outside it was known as Thursday.

The eyes of the “new lady” wandered beyond the dining-room and followed a young girl, all in pink.

“Who is that coming up the walk?”

Fourteen faces turned toward the wide front window.

Miss Castlevaine was quickest. Her answer did not halt the syrup on its way to her plate.

“That’s Polly Dudley.”

“Oh! Dr. Dudley’s daughter?”

#200: Elizabeth: the Disinherited Daughter
by Elizabeth Arnold Hitchock
original publication: unknown

Opening:

CHAPTER I.

THAT STRANGE LETTER.

It was in the latter part of the eighteenth century. The dwelling was a plain frame structure, spacious, and of the style of that day (the second story projecting a few inches beyond the first), and was kept painted as white as snow. It stood in the south suburb of the then little city of Middletown, Conn., between two hills on the right bank of the Connecticut River, at the bend called “the Cove.” The first break in the happy family circle was made by the departure of a daughter to another State to engage in teaching. Few letters were written in those days, and the postal service was a slow and small concern. But this absent school-teacher had written with much care and vivacity to the dear circle at home as regularly as the months came around. But now, for long, anxious weeks, no tidings from the absent one had reached that saddened home at the Cove. “Why don’t we get a letter from Betsey?” was often asked by the fond parents, the loving sisters, and thoughtful little brothers; but no satisfactory answer could be given.

The father would hasten to the city as often as “mail day” returned and watch for the ponderous stagecoach, but come back more moderately, with a shadow upon his countenance, and “No letter!” “No letter!” would deepen the sorrow of the circle. One day the son “Siah” was sent, and in an unusually short time was seen coming over the hill with a speed so unlike a disappointed lad that the watchful mother was “sure the dear boy had tidings.” Her lip trembled as she motioned to the father and called out, “Where’s Esther? Where’s Sam? Call ‘em all in. Siah’s coming real fast; I guess he’s got a letter from Betsey!” “How he does ride!” says Hannah. “Dear fellow, I most know he’s got a letter!” “Yis, yis,” says little sharp-eyed Sam; “see, he holds suthin’ white higher’n his head.” Sure enough, on comes the rider, flourishing in his hand the long-looked-for message from the absent one!

#209: The Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, Oregon and California To which is Added a Description of the Physical Geography of California, with Recent … from the Latest and Most Authentic Sources
by Brevet Colonel John C. Fremont
original publication: 1853

Fremont was an explorer, but also an important anti-slavery figure, and a noted senator.

Opening:

Washington, March 1, 1843.

To Colonel J.J. Abert, Chief of the Corps of Top. Eng.

Sir: Agreeably to your orders to explore and report upon the country between the frontiers of Missouri and the South Pass in the Rocky Mountains, and on the line of the Kansas and Great Platte rivers, I set out from Washington city on the 2d day of May, 1842, and arrived at St. Louis by way of New York, the 22d of May, where the necessary preparations were completed, and the expedition commenced. I proceeded in a steamboat to Chouteau’s landing, about four hundred miles by water from St. Louis, and near the mouth of the Kansas river, whence we proceeded twelve miles to Mr. Cyprian Chouteau’s trading-house, where we completed our final arrangements for the expedition.

Bad weather, which interfered with astronomical observations, delayed us several days in the early part of June at this post, which is on the right bank of the Kansas river, about ten miles above the mouth, and six beyond the western boundary of Missouri. The sky cleared off at length and we were enabled to determine our position, in longitude 90° 25′ 46″, and latitude 39° 5′ 57″. The elevation above the sea is about 700 feet. Our camp, in the mean time, presented an animated and bustling scene. All were busily engaged in completing the necessary arrangements for our campaign in the wilderness, and profiting by this short stay on the verge of civilization, to provide ourselves with all the little essentials to comfort in the nomadic life we were to lead for the ensuing summer months. Gradually, however, every thing–the materiel of the camp–men, horses, and even mules–settled into its place; and by the 10th we were ready to depart; but, before we mount our horses, I will give a short description of the party with which I performed the service

#252: Polly of the Hospital Staff
by Emma C. Dowd
original publication: 1912

Another book in the Polly series. I can, again, imagine this in a used bookstore: “Look! Another one!”

Chapter I

The Cherry-Pudding Story

The June breeze hurried up from the harbor to the big house on the hill, and fluttered playfully past the window vines into the children’s convalescent ward. It was a common saying at the hospital that the tidal breeze always reached the children’s ward first. Sometimes the little people were waiting for it, ready with their welcome; but to-day there were none to laugh a greeting. The room was very quiet. The occupants of the little white cots had slept unusually long, and the few that had awakened from their afternoon naps were still too drowsy to be astir. Besides, Polly was not there, and the ward was never the same without Polly.

As the young nurse in charge passed noiselessly between the rows of beds, a small hand pulled at her apron.

“Ain’t it ‘most time for Polly to come?”

#337: Sermons on Various Important Subjects
by Andrew Lee
original publication: 1803

Opening:

PREFACE

That thick darkness overspread the church after the irruptions of the northern barbarians, and the desolations which they occasioned in the Roman empire, is known and acknowledged. Those conquerors professed the religion of the conquered; but corrupted and spoiled it. Like the new settlers in the kingdom of Ephraim, they feared the Lord and served their own gods. In those corruptions antichristian error and domination originated. The tyranny of opinion became terrible, and long held human minds enslaved. Few had sentiments of their own. The orders of the vatican were received as the mandates of heaven. But at last some discerning and intrepid mortals arose who saw the absurdity and impiety of the reigning superstition, and dared to disclose them to a wondering world! Among those bold reformers, LUTHER, CALVIN, and a few contemporary worthies, hold a distinguished rank. Greatly is the church indebted to them for the light which they diffused, and the reformation which they effected. But still the light was imperfect. Dark shades remained. This particularly appeared in the dogmatism and bigotry of these same reformers, who often prohibited further inquiries, or emendations! They had differed from Rome, but no body must differ from them! As though the infallibility which they denied to another, had been transferred to themselves!

#372: An Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, Particularly the African, Translated from a Latin Dissertation
by Thomas Clarkson
original publication: 1786

The slave trade in Britain was ended in 1807…more than half a century before the American Civil War. Clarkson was a campaigner in that cause.

CHAP. I.

When civilized, as well as barbarous nations, have been found, through a long succession of ages, uniformly to concur in the same customs, there seems to arise a presumption, that such customs are not only eminently useful, but are founded also on the principles of justice. Such is the case with respect to Slavery: it has had the concurrence of all the nations, which history has recorded, and the repeated practice of ages from the remotest antiquity, in its favour. Here then is an argument, deduced from the general consent and agreement of mankind, in favour of the proposed subject: but alas! when we reflect that the people, thus reduced to a state of servitude, have had the same feelings with ourselves; when we reflect that they have had the same propensities to pleasure, and the same aversions from pain; another argument seems immediately to arise in opposition to the former, deduced from our own feelings and that divine sympathy, which nature has implanted in our breasts, for the most useful and generous of purposes. To ascertain the truth therefore, where two such opposite sources of argument occur; where the force of custom pleads strongly on the one hand, and the feelings of humanity on the other; is a matter of much importance, as the dignity of human nature is concerned, and the rights and liberties of mankind will be involved in its discussion.

#379: The Works of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke, Vol. I. (of 12)
by Edmund Burke
original publication: 1854

Whig was an Irish politician who supported the American Revolution, but opposed the French one.

Opening:

A LETTER TO LORD ****.

Shall I venture to say, my lord, that in our late conversation, you were inclined to the party which you adopted rather by the feelings of your good nature, than by the conviction of your judgment? We laid open the foundations of society; and you feared that the curiosity of this search might endanger the ruin of the whole fabric. You would readily have allowed my principle, but you dreaded the consequences; you thought, that having once entered upon these reasonings, we might be carried insensibly and irresistibly farther than at first we could either have imagined or wished. But for my part, my lord, I then thought, and am still of the same opinion, that error, and not truth of any kind, is dangerous; that ill conclusions can only flow from false propositions; and that, to know whether any proposition be true or false, it is a preposterous method to examine it by its apparent consequences.

Well, there’s an interesting set! My guess is that we have some of these books in the top 400 because of the popularity of the movie Lincoln, and certainly, Fremont would make good “additional reading”. I always have great fun putting this together…I hope you have fun reading it, and find a good book or two out of it as well. Free free to let me know what you think by commenting on this post.

*I do exercise some discretion in choosing the “opening”. I may or may not skip the preface, for example

**Hey, they’ve increased the search results to 2,256! I still ran this one based on 400, but next time, we’ll have a chance for some less popular titles.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Flavors of free

November 28, 2012

Flavors of free

I’ve written a lot about getting free stuff for your Kindles (both tablets and RSKs…Reflective Screen Kindles). The link I just gave you there only scratches the surface. I’ve written specifically about why some e-books are free.

If you are one of the people getting your first EBR (E-Book Reader) or tablet (like the Kindle Fire) this year, it’s good to know…you don’t actually need to spend money on content again. There are plenty of legal sources out there for free content (books, apps, video, music)…even things that other people have paid to have in the past.

I thought in this post I’d look a bit more at what “free” can mean. :)

Robert Heinlein popularized the acronym TANSTAAFL in The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. It stands for “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch”.

The suggestion is that, even if something is given to you for free, it may come with implied obligations that do end up costing you something, even if it isn’t money. If the boss takes you to lunch for having good performance in the month, there is an implicit idea that if you had a bad performance, you wouldn’t have gotten it. The cost of that free lunch could be many things: it isn’t just that you have the option to be good or not. The boss’ time is worth a lot more than the food, and that was included…so now, you may feel a social obligation to take care of the boss who took care of you.

In the case of free content, there are several ways it can work.

One big choice first: get it from Amazon, or get it somewhere else.

Getting free stuff from Amazon is easy, and it becomes part of your Amazon library.

You want free apps for your Fire?

Amazon has a Free App of the Day (an app for which they charge on other days):

Amazon Appstore

Do they have apps that are free besides that? Oh, yes…over 25,000 are here:

Free Apps in the Amazon Appstore

Not all Amazon Appstore apps are available for all devices, but that’s still a lot of apps. You could get one new free app a day for over 68 years, and not have them all (and that even presumes they haven’t added more in between).

Amazon has a lot more free books than free apps:

Free Kindle store books

It’s about twice as many (more than 50,000 free e-books) at the time of writing.

I do tend to prefer to get things from Amazon…Amazon stores them (and my notes) for me.

However, I do get some from other sources, typically because Amazon doesn’t have it.

I’ll just mention one of those (you can click the link at the beginning of this article for me):

http://www.archive.org

I use that often for free video (but it also has free audio, e-books, and so on). I’m not making notes on video, after all, and I don’t tend to share video (like old movies or TV shows) with the other people on my account.

Amazon, not Amazon, or a mix (my choice)…up to you.

Now, let’s talk about the “flavors of free”.

“Out of the goodness of their hearts”

There are places that make content free because they think it is for the good of society. One that can not be praised enough is

Project Gutenberg

They’ve tirelessly made free e-books available for a long time.

You may feel a social obligation to support the site, and may certainly want to do so, but it isn’t required. Arguably, a public library is like this as well, although you pay taxes to support it typically, and you don’t get to keep the item.

This is largely possible because of the limitations on copyright terms, which causes items to fall out of copyright protection into what is called the “public domain” after a certain amount of time (or for other reasons).

“Advertising supported”

Sometimes, free content is paid for by advertisers. You get it for free, but the advertiser pays the distributor for the loan of your eyeballs and brain. ;) Very often, a popular app will come both in an ad-supported (“free”) version and a paid version. Pay ninety-nine cents (or some other amount), don’t see ads. Get it for free, see ads. You “pay for it” by watching the ads. One irritation for some people: your app may need to connect to the internet from time to time to download new ads. Once you do that, you can play it again without being connected.

“No Additional Cost”

Amazon has been big on this with Prime. You pay a service fee (typically $79 a year for Amazon Prime). Included in that is content you can use at no additional cost. It feels free, because you don’t pay for each transaction (when you watch a movie or read a book), but you’ve paid for the privilege.

This can be a great deal. If you already had Prime because you used the included two-day shipping, you can now watch many streaming movies and TV shows, and borrow up to a book a month, at no additional cost. If you get Prime specifically to borrow the books, it won’t feel free to you.

Getting you to be a Prime member is worth a lot to Amazon: Prime members tend to buy a lot more from Amazon, from what we’ve heard, including of those physical goods (what I call “diapers and windshield wipers”) where the real profit may be.

On an RSK (Reflective Screen Kindle), Amazon may give you “free” 3G. You do pay a higher additional cost for the device, but you don’t pay a monthly service fee. You get the 3G (which may be limited in use) for no additional cost after you buy the device.

It doesn’t work that way for the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE Wireless 32GB…you do pay for a dataplan there, since the data you use on a tablet is so much more than the data you use to download a book.

“Inspiring Sales”

A company may give you free content to get you to buy something else which isn’t free. For example, you might buy a book, and it has a free chapter in it from the next book. Samples of books are a great demonstration of this. You can get a free sample of a book at Amazon. The potential cost here is that you like the book, and end up buying it when you wouldn’t have otherwise.

Similarly, a company may make the first book in a series free (sometimes for a limited time, even one day). After you read that book, you might then buy the other books in the series, or other books by the same author from the same publisher.

There you go…a few of the flavors of free.

Does it make a difference to you when you get it? After all, free is free, right? Do you feel obligated to support Project Gutenberg (maybe by volunteer proof-reading for them) if you use their books? Has a free sample ever gotten you to buy the book? How about a free book getting you to pay for other related books? Does the Prime streaming video and Kindle Owners’ Lending Library feel free to you, or are you acutely aware of that annual fee? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Free e-books for disabled US students (and low cost availability for others with disabilities)

May 9, 2012

Free e-books for disabled US students (and low cost availability for others with disabilities)

In the USA, there are provisions under the law that enables “authorized entities” to make books available to people with qualifying disabilities.

One of the most important element of that is the Chafee Amendment, which created Section 121 of Title 17 (US copyright law).

http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap1.pdf

That enables these “authorized entities” to produce these specialized editions, which include “…digital text which is exclusively for use by blind or other persons with disabilities…” without first obtaining permission from the rightsholder.

That’s important. While publishers do cooperate with these sorts of programs, it didn’t always used to be the fastest system. :) If an authorized entity needed to file a request and wait for a response giving them permission, that was sometimes unwieldy. The Chafee Amendment eliminated that potential bottleneck.

So, the key points are:

  • This only applies under US law (but there may be similar laws other places…I’m just familiar with the US)
  • It has to be done by an “authorized entity”, not just anybody. According to Section 121:  “authorized entity” means “…a nonprofit organization or a governmental agency that has a primary mission to provide specialized services relating to training, education, or adaptive reading or information access needs of blind or other persons with disabilities”
  • It has to be done for people with certified disabilities…you can’t produce the e-book under the Chafee Amendment and then just make it available to anybody who wants it

None of this says that the e-book has to be made available for free to people with disabilities. Yes, it has to be a non-profit, so that part would be scrutinized, but if they don’t have donations or grants or the equivalent that pay for the production costs, they could charge for them.

Now we are about to get into the specifics of one such source.

I’ve written about

https://www.bookshare.org/?

before, in conjunction with the text-to-speech issue.

This organization has recently celebrated ten years of public service.

If you can certify a disability (making you a legitimate person to receive their services under the law), you can get e-books from them.

They are currently funded (I think it may end later this year, but could get renewed) by a grant from OSEP (the Office of Special Education Programs) of the US Department of Education to give books to students for free.  Specifically, this covers:

  • K-12 (public and private)
  • Home-schooled students
  • Post-secondary (public and private)
  • Adult education

Obviously, you would need to prove you were a qualifying student (as well as proving your qualifying disability) to get the books for free.

If you do have a qualifying disability but are not a qualifying student, you can get a membership for a $25 one time set-up fee, and then a $50 annual fee (those can also be gifted to someone).

For $50 a year, then, you have access to something like 140,000 e-books for no additional cost, if can certify a qualifying disability.

What sorts of books?

The Hunger Games trilogy, Harry Potter, Fifty Shades of Grey, Calico Joe by John Grisham…lots of popular books, and more.

You can search at the Bookshare.org website.

You can also do organizational memberships.

One interesting thing I noticed in writing this post. They do have international options. For more information, see

https://www.bookshare.org/_/membership/international

What prompted this post is that the use of Kindles by the disabled had come up in an Amazon Kindle community thread, and I mentioned Bookshare. I got some good response from people who had been unaware of it…so I wanted to share it with you.

If this does help you or someone you know, I’d appreciate hearing about it. If you have personal experience with Bookshare, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Ten random public domain freebies #2

March 30, 2012

Ten random public domain freebies #2

This is the second in a series. In this one, I’ve expanded the listings by including the opening of the book, to replicate that feeling of opening a book and reading it a bit to see if you like it. If my random search returns a title from the previous post, I’ll randomize again.

One of the things people say they miss when shopping online is that sense of random discovery you get in a physical store.

When you go online, you tend to search for something specific.

When you walk in a store, you never know what you’ll find. Heck, they might even have changed where the sections are.

That was especially true of used bookstores. I loved finding some obscure old title…the kind you couldn’t figure out how it ever got published in the first place.

Alternatively, maybe it was something that was clearly popular at one time.

The point is, you never quite knew what you’d see.

So, I decided to replicate that experience.

When you do a search at Amazon, you can only see 400 results.

I used

http://www.ereaderiq.com/search/

to limit my search to free public domain titles, and to rank the results by popularity.

Next, I used

http://www.random.org/integers/

to find me ten random numbers from 1 to 400.

The books below are the results of that search…have fun wandering down the aisle! :)

#15. Great Expectations
by Charles Dickens
original publication: 1861

Opening:

“My father’s family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip.”

#32. The Chessmen of Mars
by Edgar Rice Burroughs
original publication: 1922

This is the fifth book in the Barsoom series (the basis for the current John Carter movie).

Opening:

“Shea had just beaten me at chess, as usual, and, also as usual, I had gleaned what questionable satisfaction I might by twitting him with this indication of failing mentality by calling his attention to the nth time to that theory, propounded by certain scientists, which is based upon the assertion that phenomenal chess players are always found to be from the ranks of children under twelve, adults over seventy-two or the mentally defective—a theory that is lightly ignored upon those rare occasions that I win. Shea had gone to bed and I should have followed suit, for we are always in the saddle here before sunrise; but instead I sat there before the chess table in the library, idly blowing smoke at the dishonored head of my defeated king.”

#39: White Fang
by Jack London
original publication: 1906

London tells the story of a wolf-dog hybrid…partially from the point of view of the dog.

Opening:

“Dark spruce forest frowned on either side the frozen waterway. The trees had been stripped by a recent wind of their white covering of frost, and they seemed to lean towards each other, black and ominous, in the fading light. A vast silence reigned over the land. The land itself was a desolation, lifeless, without movement, so lone and cold that the spirit of it was not even that of sadness. There was a hint in it of laughter, but of a laughter more terrible than any sadness–a laughter that was mirthless as the smile of the sphinx, a laughter cold as the frost and partaking of the grimness of infallibility. It was the masterful and incommunicable wisdom of eternity laughing at the futility of life and the effort of life. It was the Wild, the savage, frozen-hearted Northland Wild.”

#43: A Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens
original publication: 1843

One of the greats! I’ve parodied it in A Kindle Carol.

Opening:

“I HAVE endeavoured in this Ghostly little book,
to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my
readers out of humour with themselves, with each other,
with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses
pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.”

#176: Legends of the Gods The Egyptian Texts, edited with Translations
by E. A. Wallis Budge
original publication: 1912

Opening:

“THE LEGEND OF THE GOD NEB-ER-TCHER, AND THE HISTORY OF CREATION. The text of the remarkable Legend of the Creation which forms the first section of this volume is preserved in a well-written papyrus in the British Museum, where it bears the number 10,188. This papyrus was acquired by the late Mr. A. H. Rhind in 1861 or 1862, when he was excavating some tombs on the west bank of the Nile at Thebes. He did not himself find it in a tomb, but he received it from the British Consul at Luxor, Mustafa Agha, during an interchange of gifts when Mr. Rhind was leaving the country. Mustafa Agha obtained the papyrus from the famous hiding-place of the Royal Mummies at Der-al-Bahari, with the situation of which he was well acquainted for many years before it became known to the Egyptian Service of Antiquities. When Mr. Rhind came to England, the results of his excavations were examined by Dr. Birch, who, recognising the great value of the papyrus, arranged to publish it in a companion volume to Facsimiles of Two Papyri, but the death of Mr. Rhind in 1865 caused the project to fall through. Mr. Rhind’s collection passed into the hands of Mr. David Bremner, and the papyrus, together with many other antiquities, was purchased by the Trustees of the British Museum. In 1880 Dr. Birch suggested the publication of the papyrus to Dr. Pleyte, the Director of the Egyptian Museum at Leyden. This savant transcribed and translated some passages from the Festival Songs of Isis and Nephthys, which is the first text in it, and these he published in Recueil de Travaux, Paris, tom. iii., pp. 57-64. In 1886 by Dr. Birch’s kindness I was allowed to work at the papyrus, and I published transcripts of some important passages and the account of the Creation in the Proceedings of the Society of Biblical Archaeology, 1886-7, pp. 11-26. The Legend of the Creation was considered by Dr. H. Brugsch to be of considerable value for the study of the Egyptian Religion, and encouraged by him[FN#1] I made a full transcript of the papyrus, which was published in Archaeologia, (vol. lii., London, 1891), with transliterations and translations. In 1910 I edited for the Trustees of the British Museum the complete hieratic text with a revised translation.”

#217: The Awakening and Selected Short Stories
by Kate Chopin
original publication: 1899

This one was pretty controversial in its day…

Opening:

“A green and yellow parrot, which hung in a cage outside the door, kept repeating over and over: “Allez vous-en! Allez vous-en! Sapristi! That’s all right!””

#223: The Symbolism of Freemasonry
by Albert G. Mackey
original publication: 1882

Opening:

“Preliminary. The Origin and Progress of Freemasonry. Any inquiry into the symbolism and philosophy of Freemasonry must necessarily be preceded by a brief investigation of the origin and history of the institution. Ancient and universal as it is, whence did it arise? What were the accidents connected with its birth? From what kindred or similar association did it spring? Or was it original and autochthonic, independent, in its inception, of any external influences, and unconnected with any other institution? These are questions which an intelligent investigator will be disposed to propound in the very commencement of the inquiry; and they are questions which must be distinctly answered before he can be expected to comprehend its true character as a symbolic institution. He must know something of its antecedents, before he can appreciate its character.”

#225: Welsh Fairy Tales
by William Elliot Griffis
original publication: 1921

Opening:

“Long, long ago, there was a good saint named David, who taught the early Cymric or Welsh people better manners and many good things to eat and ways of enjoying themselves. Now the Welsh folks in speaking of their good teacher pronounced his name Tafid and affectionately Taffy, and this came to be the usual name for a person born in Wales.”

#335: Silas Marner
by George Elliott
original publication: 1861

“In the days when the spinning-wheels hummed busily in the farmhouses—and even great ladies, clothed in silk and thread-lace, had their toy spinning-wheels of polished oak—there might be seen in districts far away among the lanes, or deep in the bosom of the hills, certain pallid undersized men, who, by the side of the brawny country-folk, looked like the remnants of a disinherited race. The shepherd’s dog barked fiercely when one of these alien-looking men appeared on the upland, dark against the early winter sunset; for what dog likes a figure bent under a heavy bag?—and these pale men rarely stirred abroad without that mysterious burden. The shepherd himself, though he had good reason to believe that the bag held nothing but flaxen thread, or else the long rolls of strong linen spun from that thread, was not quite sure that this trade of weaving, indispensable though it was, could be carried on entirely without the help of the Evil One. In that far-off time superstition clung easily round every person or thing that was at all unwonted, or even intermittent and occasional merely, like the visits of the pedlar or the knife-grinder. No one knew where wandering men had their homes or their origin; and how was a man to be explained unless you at least knew somebody who knew his father and mother? To the peasants of old times, the world outside their own direct experience was a region of vagueness and mystery: to their untravelled thought a state of wandering was a conception as dim as the winter life of the swallows that came back with the spring; and even a settler, if he came from distant parts, hardly ever ceased to be viewed with a remnant of distrust, which would have prevented any surprise if a long course of inoffensive conduct on his part had ended in the commission of a crime; especially if he had any reputation for knowledge, or showed any skill in handicraft.”

#370: The Way We Live Now
by Anthony Trollope
original publication: 1875

Opening:

“Let the reader be introduced to Lady Carbury, upon whose character and doings much will depend of whatever interest these pages may have, as she sits at her writing-table in her own room in her own house in Welbeck Street. Lady Carbury spent many hours at her desk, and wrote many letters wrote also very much beside letters. She spoke of herself in these days as a woman devoted to Literature, always spelling the word with a big L. Something of the nature of her devotion may be learned by the perusal of three letters which on this morning she had written with a quickly running hand. Lady Carbury was rapid in everything, and in nothing more rapid than in the writing of letters.”

I have to say, I can completely imagine walking through a used bookstore and coming across these books! Maybe in the dollar bin, beaten up without dust covers…and a wild cover on a paperback of Chessmen!

The ability to get books like this free? One of the things I like best about e-books…

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Ten random public domain freebies

March 13, 2012

Ten random public domain freebies

One of the things people say they miss when shopping online is that sense of random discovery you get in a physical store.

When you go online, you tend to search for something specific.

When you walk in a store, you never know what you’ll find. Heck, they might even have changed where the sections are.

That was especially true of used bookstores. I loved finding some obscure old title…the kind you couldn’t figure out how it ever got published in the first place.

Alternatively, maybe it was something that was clearly popular at one time.

The point is, you never quite knew what you’d see.

So, I decided to replicate that experience.

When you do a search at Amazon, you can only see 400 results.

I used

http://www.ereaderiq.com/search/

to limit my search to free public domain titles, and to rank the results by popularity.

Next, I used

http://www.random.org/integers/

to find me ten random numbers from 1 to 400.

The books below are the results of that search…have fun wandering down the aisle! :)

Beauty and the Beast
by unknown

This is a short version of the fairy tale. It’s possible it was illustrated, but it isn’t here.

The Souls of Black Folk
by W.E.B. Dubois

An important classic

Faust
by Goethe

Politics: A Treatise on Government
by Aristotle

The Valley of Fear
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

A Sherlock Holmes story

The Religion of the Ancient Celts
by J.A. MacCulloch

Intentions
by Oscar Wilde

A collection of four essays…I got this one for my vacation

Oedipus Trilogy
by Sophocles

Old Greek Stories
by James Baldwin

Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon
by Jules Verne

Hm…I don’t think I’ve read this one! It involves a trip down the Amazon, and I’ve been there before. I’m taking this one on vacation, too!

Well, I must say…I enjoyed that! I do like doing things with a plan, but I love improvising, and this sort of combined the two (I’d planned to find random titles).

If you’d like me to do this again, feel free to let me know.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Kindle bestsellers (free and paid)…by category

March 4, 2012

Kindle bestsellers…by category

People have requested before that I list the categories for freebies, and I have been doing that…but it tells me that it’s important to people. :)

So, it was nice to find that Amazon lists the bestsellers (updated hourly) by category…and yes, they do show you both the top 100 free and the top 100 paid.

A couple of things before I give you the links:

  • Categories are determined by the publishers. They are often apparently done for marketing purposes, and not based on the intrinsic qualities of the books. I’ve seen the same book listed as fiction and non-fiction, for example
  • It’s possible for a book to be driven up the paid list by being free. How? Well, one way would be if the book switched from free to pay in the previous hour. Let’s say that they update it on the even hour. At 10:30, a book switches from free to pay: the downloads during the free half hour would impact its sales ranking…and that would still be in place when it switched to paid. I think it must also be more complicated than that, since the impact sometimes seems to last for a more than a day.
  • The book availability and pricing may vary by country
  • I noticed a couple of categories where there wasn’t a free list right now…that may be because there aren’t any free books…or maybe that there aren’t 100 free titles in that category

Here, then, are links to the lists. The first two aren’t bestsellers, but are still interesting:

Fiction

  • Action & Adventure
  • Children’s Fiction (includes Animals, Arts & Music, Historical Fiction, Literature, People & Places, Religious Fiction, Science, Nature & How It Works, Sports & Activities)
  • Comic Fiction
  • Contemporary Fiction
  • Drama (includes Anthologies, British & Irish, Continental European, Eastern, Greek & Roman, Religious & Liturgical, United States)
  • Erotica
  • Fantasy (includes Anthologies, Arthurian, Contemporary, Epic, Historical, Series)
  • Fiction Classics
  • Genre Fiction (includes Action & Adventure, Anthologies, Comics & Graphic Novels, Erotica, Fairy Tales, Family Saga, Fantasy, Gay & Lesbian, Historical, Horror, Men’s Adventure, Movie Tie-Ins, Mystery & Thrillers, Political, Romance, Science Fiction, Sea Adventures, Sports, War, Westerns. Note: if the same category appears here and as its own category, getting their either way gets you to the same place)
  • Historical Fiction
  • Horror (includes Anthologies, Dark Fantasy, Ghosts, Occult)
  • Literary Fiction
  • Mystery & Thrillers (includes Mystery, Police Procedurals, Thrillers)
  • Poetry
  • Religious Fiction (includes Biblical, Historical, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction & Fantasy)
  • Romance (includes Anthologies, Contemporary, Fantasy, Futuristic & Ghost, Historical Romance, Romantic Suspense, Series)
  • Science Fiction (includes Adventure, Anthologies, High Tech, Series)
  • Short Stories
  • World Literature (includes British, Eastern European, French, Italian, Jewish, Middle Eastern, Mythology, Russian, Scandinavian, United States, Untranslated)

Nonfiction

  • Advice & How-to (includes Diets & Weight Loss, Exercise & Fitness, Health, Mind & Body, Home Repair & Improvement, Nutrition, Parenting & Families, Self-Help)
  • Arts & Entertainment (includes Architecture, Art, Dance, Fashion, Graphic Design, Individual Artists, Movies & Video, Music, Performing Arts, Photography, Pop Culture, Radio, Television, Theater)
  • Automotive (includes Classic Cars, Customize, Driver’s Education, Foreign, History, Industry, Insurance, Motorcycles, Pictorial, Repair, Trucks & Vans)
  • Biographies & Memoirs (Arts & Literature, Ethnic & National, Historical, Leaders & Notable People, Memoirs, Professionals & Academics, Reference & Collections, Regional U.S., Specific Groups, Travel)
  • Business & Investing (includes Biographies & Primers, Business Life, Careers, Economics, Finance, Industries & Professions, International, Investing, Management & Leadership, Marketing & Sales, Personal Finance, Reference, Small Business & Entrepreneurship)
  • Children’s Nonfiction (includes Animals, Arts & Music, Computers, History, People & Places, Philosophy, Politics & Government, Reference, Religions, Science, Nature & How It Works, Sports & Activities)
  • Computers & Internet (Databases, Graphic Design, Hardware, Microsoft, Networking, Operating Systems, Programming, Software, Systems Analysis & Design, Web Graphics, Web Marketing, Web Site Design)
  • Cooking, Food & Wine (Baking, Canning & Preserving, Cooking by Ingredient, Culinary Arts & Techniques, Drinks & Beverages, Gastronomy, Meals, Natural Foods, Outdoor Cooking, Professional Cooking, Quick & Easy, Reference, Regional & International, Special Appliances, Special Diet, Special Occasions, Vegetables & Vegetarian)
  • Crime & Criminals (includes Criminology, Forensic Science, Penology)
  • Education (Adult & Continuing Education, College & University, Computers & Technology, Counseling, Curricula, Education Theory, Elementary School, Funding, High School, Homeschooling, Parent Participation, Pedagogy, Policy, Preschool & Kindergarten, Reading, Reference, Special Education, Study Skills)
  • Government (Civics, Congresses, Senates, & Legislative Bodies, Constitutions, Democracy, Elections, Federal Government, Legal System, Public Affairs & Administration, Public Policy, Social Policy, State & Local Government)
  • History (includes Africa, Americas, Ancient, Asia, Australia & Oceania, Europe, Historical Study, Middle East, Military, Military Science, Russia, United States, World)
  • Holidays
  • Law (Administrative Law, Business, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law, Dictionaries & Terminology, Environmental & Natural Resources Law, Ethics & Professional Responsibility, Family & Health Law, Intellectual Property, International Law, Law Practice, Legal Education, Media & the Law, One-L, Perspectives on Law, Practical Guides, Procedures & Litigation, Specialties, Taxation)
  • Lifestyle & Home (Cooking, Food & Wine, Gay & Lesbian, Home & Garden, Parenting & Families, Poker, Puzzles & Games)
  • Literary Criticism & Theory
  • Medicine (includes Administration & Policy, Allied Health Professions, Alternative & Holistic, Basic Science, Dentistry, Diseases, Education & Training, Internal Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacology, Physician & Patient, Reference, Reproductive Medicine & Technology, Research, Special Topics, Specialties, Veterinary Medicine)
  • Philosophy
  • Politics & Current Events (includes Arms Control, Civil Rights & Liberties, Disaster Relief, Freedom & Security, Globalization, Ideologies, International, Labor & Industrial Relations, Leadership, Mass Media, Political History & Theory, Political Parties, Poverty, Practical Politics, Regional Planning, Social Security, Terrorism, U.S. Politics, War & Peace)
  • Professional & Technical (includes Accounting & Finance, Architecture, Education, Engineering, Law, Medical, Professional Science)
  • Psychology & Counseling (includes Adolescent Psychology, Applied Psychology, Child Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Counseling, Creativity & Genius, Developmental Psychology, Education & Training, Experimental Psychology, Forensic Psychology, History, Hypnosis, Mental Illness, Neuropsychology, Occupational & Organizational, Pathologies, Personality, Physiological Aspects, Psychoanalysis, Psychopharmacology, Psychotherapy, TA & NLP, Reference, Research, Sexuality, Social Psychology & Interactions, Statistics, Suicide, Testing & Measurement)
  • Reference (includes Almanacs & Yearbooks, Atlases & Maps, Business Skills, Catalogs & Directories, Consumer Guides, Dictionaries & Thesauruses, Education, Encyclopedias, Etiquette, Foreign Languages, Fun Facts, Genealogy, Medical Reference, Publishing & Books, Quotations, Study Guides, Test Prep, Words & Language, Writing)
  • Religion & Spirituality (includes Bible & Other Sacred Texts, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, New Age, Occult, Other Eastern Religions, Other Practices, Religious Studies, Spirituality)
  • Science (includes Agricultural Sciences, Astronomy, Behavioral Sciences, Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Education, Environment, Essays & Commentary, Experiments, Instruments & Measurement, Genetics, History & Philosophy, Mathematics, Medicine, Nature & Ecology, Physics, Reference, Technology)
  • Social Sciences
  • Sports (includes Baseball, Basketball, Biographies, Coaching, Extreme Sports, Football (American), Golf, Hockey, Individual Sports, Miscellaneous, Mountaineering, Other Team Sports, Outdoors & Nature, Poker, Racket Sports, Rodeos, Soccer, Softball, Training, Water Sports, Winter Sports)
  • Transportation (includes Aviation, Mass Transit, Railroads, Reference, Ships)
  • Travel (includes Africa, Asia, Canada, Caribbean, Essays & Travelogues, Europe, Food & Lodging, Guidebook Series, Latin America, Middle East, Reference, Specialty Travel, United States)
  • True Accounts (includes Espionage, Murder & Mayhem, True Crime)
  • Urban Planning & Development
  • Women’s Studies (includes Feminist Theory, History, Women Writers)

I’m also going to make this a page at the blogsite, to make it easy to find later. That way, if you want to see what’s happening in your favorite categories, you can.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Free and cheap stuff for your Kindle today 12/25/2011

December 25, 2011

Free and cheap stuff for your Kindle today 12/25/2011

If you just got a Kindle today, be happy.

You might be worried that you are going to have to spend a lot of money to keep your new Kindle “fed”.

Actually, whether you ever spend money on a book, song, app, or video again is entirely your choice.

I’m not talking about anything illegal here…and I’m not talking about anything complicated.

I’m going to keep all of this very simple. I’m going to let you do everything right from the Amazon store (although there are other great sources out there as well.

There is one exception to that (videos), but I’ll talk about that more later.

The first obvious question: what’s the catch?

There really isn’t one.

Sure, Amazon has a goal here. They want you to use Amazon for purchasing. If they give you free stuff, you are more likely to choose Amazon when you do want to pay for something.

Yes, it’s possible you might only get freebies, and yes, that does cost Amazon a bit for maintenance and such.

That’s not very likely, though. I get lots of free books, but we also pay for some.

I’m going to start out with books, because all of the Kindle can use those. Then, I’ll talk about some things specific to the multimedia Kindle Fire.

Before I get to specifics, though, I want to give you a little bit of the strategy.

I said “today” in the headline. Does that mean there are things that are free today that won’t be free tomorrow?

Yes.

Some things are pretty much always free…public domain classic books, for example. Those are books that don’t have copyright protection, most often because the term has expired. For example, books which were first published in the USA before 1923 are in the public domain in the USA. Many books published in other countries are, too.

Since no author royalty has to be paid in that case, the books can be given away.

In other cases, the item is promotional…the publisher may be looking to get reviews or positive online comments…what I call “word of mouse”. They may only do that for one day. Amazon does it, too.

In the case of Amazon, they may always have the same page where something shows, but it changes each day, I’ll point that out.

One last important point: the ones I’m going to mention are free in the USA, but may not be free in other countries. If something doesn’t say it is free, don’t assume it is because I listed it. The price can go up at any time before you buy it.

Here we go…

Books

Here is a search for all the free books in the Kindle store:

Kindle store free books

Right now, there are 48,119 of those.  About 90% of those are public domain titles…but that still means there are about 4,000 that are promotional titles.

Amazon does let you click on categories there, but I do want to strongly recommend what I consider to be the most valuable resource for Kindle owners on the web.

http://www.ereaderiq.com/

They show you all the Kindle store freebies, let you choose whether or not you see erotica (the default is that you don’t), let you filter by category, show you whether a book has text-to-speech (the Kindle’s read aloud function), let you know if it is lendable, and more.

They keep improving this resource (the erotica filtering is new). You can also sign up here to get a regular e-mail with the new freebies. That’s well worth it…it costs you nothing, and you get a lot out of it.

You can also sign up to get a free e-mail when books you specify drop in price, when books you list have been newly published in Kindle format, and their search is much better than Amazon’s, in my opinion.

None of this costs you anything.

How does that work?

Presumably, Amazon pays them an advertising fee when you buy things after having clicked on the links they send you. That does not change your price…Amazon is just rewarding them for sending the business their way through the Amazon Associate program.

Those books will generally work on any model Kindle (or Kindle reader app). Some Kindle store books are better on some apps or Kindles than others. For example, I’ve gotten free books from eReaderIQ with audio/video content. Those don’t play on a Kindle (although they may on the Kindle Fire), but can be read on Kindles. You can view the audio/video on an iDevice (iPads, iPhones, iPod touches).

Here are some specific recommendations from me for free books from the Kindle store:

Public domain:

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Pride and Prejudice
Treasure Island
Little Women
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Promotional (may only be free for a short time)

Note: I haven’t read these, and therefore am not recommending the. I’m listing them because you might be interested, and to give you an idea of the promotional freebies:

The Wedding Gift
by Kathleen McKenna
Warriors #1: Into the Wild
by Erin Hunter
Flee – A Thriller (Chandler Series #1)
by Jack Kilborn, Ann Voss Peterson, J.A. Konrath
The Rules of Management, Expanded Edition: A Definitive Code for Managerial Success (Richard Templar’s Rules)

The Kindle Owners Lending Library

If you are a paid Amazon Prime subscriber, you can borrow up to a book a month from the Kindle Owners Lending Library (KOLL). You can get some bestselling and current books that way.

It’s really important to understand how this works, though…I’ve seen many people making mistakes because they didn’t understand it.

You must

  • Get to the book on a Kindle device
  • Click on a button that says Borrow for Free

I’ve seen people thinking that they were borrowing the book, when they were clicking a button that says “buy” and has a price listed.

The button you click will say “Borrow for Free”.

You can only borrow up to a book a month, and no more than one at a time.

If you have more than one Kindle registered to the account, more than one of you can read the same book at the same time.

These books aren’t exactly free: they are at “no additional cost”. If you are already paying the $79 a year for Prime (where the main benefit for most people is free shipping on many Amazon products), it does not cost you more to borrow these books.

This has been great for me!

We’ve borrowed

Water for Elephants: A Novel

and

The LAST LECTURE

so far (this program is new).

Those are both books I would have considered buying.

To find these, get to the Kindle store on your Kindle. You should be able to find a category for the Kindle Owners Lending Library…you may have to click All Categories or something similar to find it.

Remember, you have to click a Borrow button, or you’ll be charged for it.

If the Borrow button is disabled for you, you may already have a book out currently.

The Kindle Daily Deal

These books are not free, but they are cheap. :)

Every day, Amazon offers a book at a bargain price. I can legitimately say they are on sale, and I have seen some good ones offered. I’d check the below link daily, just to be sure. I leave it open as a tab in Google Chrome, myself.

The Kindle Daily Deal

Today’s Kindle Daily Deal?

Anyone of five holiday romances, each one only ninety-nine cents.

For example,

Call Me Mrs. Miracle
by Debbie Macomber

That’s usually $12.99…a twelve dollar savings.

Music

All Kindle except the $79/$109 Kindle can play MP3s.

Amazon always has free MP3s available, and also runs specials.

Special MP3 Deals

They have lots of $5 albums…and lots of free albums and songs.

Like everything else in this post, if your tastes are more eclectic, that’s better. I’ve gotten some free albums I’ve really liked…but some of you would consider them pretty strange. ;)

Apps and games

We have to be very careful to separate this into two categories.

The first one is the RSKs (Reflective Screen Kindles…anything except a Kindle Fire). The technology differences between those and the Kindle Fire are really big…you won’t be able to play a game intended for an RSK on the Fire.

In fact, you won’t even be able to play the same version of the game on all the RSKs. The Kindle Touch line, for example, doesn’t take instructions from you the same way as the Kindle Keyboard line. You have to tell them what you want to do in different ways, and that means different game versions.

On every game’s Amazon product page, fortunately, it will tell you for which devices it is compatible.

Here’s another thing: RSK games are in the Kindle bookstore, and Fire games are in the Amazon Appstore.

Free apps and games for RSKs in the Kindle Store

Now, here are some things for the Kindle Fire:

Free App of the Day (Kindle Fire?)

What’s really happening here is that you are going to the Amazon Appstore. They do a Free App of the Day (FAOTD) every day, and it will be right on the mainstream.

I have that question mark here, because I suppose it is possible that the free app may only apply to other Android devices, and not to the Kindle Fire, but I don’t think I’ve seen that.

I’ve been amazed at some of the great apps I’ve gotten as the FAOTD. Yes, they might otherwise only cost ninety-nine cents, but still, I wouldn’t have gotten them otherwise.

Today (12/25/2011), the free app is

Atari’s Greatest Hits PRO (9 games included)

I haven’t tried that version yet, but I got it. :)

In addition to that, there are these

Free Apps in the Amazon Appstore

You need to check that they will work on your Fire…it will say that on the app’s Amazon product page.

You can read some of my reviews of some apps (including some free ones) here:

Don’t Worry, Get Appy #1

Video 

This only applies to the Kindle Fire…it’s the only Kindle that can play video.

This is the one where Amazon really doesn’t give us a lot of freebie…unless you are a Prime member…and then again, it’s really “no additional cost” rather than free.  When you get a Kindle Fire, though, they have been giving you a free month of Prime…so first your first month, this is free. :)

You also can’t download these videos…you are only going to watch them online on your Kindle Fire.

Still, there are many things here I highly recommend. I could see someone paying $79 a year to get these…and dropping premium cable.  $79/12 is about $6.58. However, you aren’t going to get movies that were recently in theatres that way, or really current TV shows. If you are like me, though, and like older movies and older TV, you are good. There are some current shows…BBC America, in particular, has some current shows.

Free Prime Streaming Video

There you go! Free books, music, games & apps, and video…directly from Amazon. You can get freebies from other places, too, but I wanted to make this easy.

You don’t have to spend money for your entertainment…but you can if you want. ;)

If you have specific recommendations for people, or anything else you want to say, feel free to comment on this post.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

Focus on free #4: ManyBooks

March 15, 2010

Focus on free #4: ManyBooks

This is the fourth in a series of posts that highlight a place to get free e-books.  You can find articles in that series here.

ManyBooks

Mobile friendly site (directly from your Kindle)

ManyBooks is one of the most popular of the free book sites amongst Kindleers.  The navigation is straightforward, and there is that social element (books are reviewed and “bookshelves” can be made public).

While many of the books from Project Gutenberg, there are books from other sources (including some new books which the rightsholders choose to distribute for free).

They claim to have 26,474 ebooks.  You could read a free book every day for about 72 years.  :)

One of the unusual features (and something you don’t have at PG), is the ability to simply flip through pages of (usually) color covers.  That kind of gives you that feel of being in a bookstore…remember those?  :)  Hey, you could even be drinking coffee and sitting in a comfy chair…it is like a bookstore!  ;)

The genre listing is extensive (including more offbeat things like “banned books”, “pulp”, “Canadian literature”, and “post 1930″), and again, in a nice touch, they let you browse by Library of Congress categories.  The pulp category got me 339 results…nice! 

The advanced search lets you do a good job of narrowing.  Hey, I like having the choice of languages from Afrikaans to Welsh…and there were 59 books just under Esperanto!

They have a ton of formats, including AZW (for the Kindle specifically), mobi, EPUB, PDF…even rb for those old Rocketbooks.  It will remember the choice that you made for format the next time you go to download…which makes it easier to grab several in one session.   Interestingly, though, when I chose Kindle, it didn’t work…it seemed to want my device key.  I could download mobi and use it fine, though.

They give you several special ways to look:

New Additions
Popular Titles
Recent Downloads
Special Collections
User’s Public Bookshelves
A List of eBooks in Series
Reader Recommendations
Random book
Cover Image Gallery

I find that list of ebooks in series particularly good, and unusual for most sites.  It’s not just books that say they are in a series…for example, they list Allan Quartermain as a series.  That’s reasonable to say, certainly, and it helps you find the books that feature that character…even though they weren’t released with numbers on the covers.   :)

They give you nine issues of Astounding (an old science fiction magazine). 

They also do a great job of letting you go from one book to another.  When you go to a given book’s page, there are links to the author, the genres, the Library of Congress category…even to the original site.

On that product page, you can also see an excerpt, and read reviews (if any).

Let’s dig a little deeper into one of the Special Collections.  This is something that sets the site apart from others.  On this page:

EBOOKS THAT BECAME MOVIES

you get several subcategories, and within the categories, you get recommended titles.  The categories include:

  • Romance
  • Adventure
  • Mystery
  • Western
  • Horror
  • Fantastic
  • Drama

I have to say, though, I’m not sure I concur with all the categorizations.  My Man Jeeves is under Drama…okay, so they don’t have a humor category, so I guess it does go there.  It’s also certainly an incomplete list.  For example, they don’t list Zorro…I guess Antonio Banderas might be disappointed.  ;)

Back to the book listing, you also get a word count and a page count.  That page count would let you calculate where you should be in the book if you were in a book club or given an assignment in class. 

I tried registering for the site, and found it a little awkward.  I appeared to be able to log in with the default password they gave me, but when I tried to change it, it kept telling me I wasn’t logged in. 

Then, however, it did work later from the main screen…it may have been working fine, but just had confusing messages. 

You do not need an account to get the books, but if you have one, you can then create “bookshelves” and write reviews.  It also interacts with Library Thing.

The site has links for a number of conversion programs (from one format to another), although I’d say they could be more descriptive.  For Calibre, which can do a number of conversions, it just says “for ePUB format”. 

As to a little local flavor, they give you some statistics on books downloaded.  Apparently, though, they haven’t done one for 2009.  In 2008, the most popular title was The Art of War by Sun Tzu, with over 34,000 downloads.  There were about 4.5 million downloads in total in 2008.  That compares to 3.8 million in 2007…which shows a considerable jump.  Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a file for 2006, which would be the year before the Kindle was released.  Looking at 2005, though, there were only 1.8 million titles downloaded…that’s a big increase!  My intuition would be that the Kindle was a big part of that…I see ManyBooks mentioned many times in the forums.  The Art of War is still one of the most popular books this week…it might be old, but it doesn’t get old.  :)  Even when I managed a brick and mortar bookstore, that was a popular seller…mostly to businesspeople. 

Oh, and you can filter the search.  In case you were wondering, the most popular book in Esperanto this week has had five downloads.  ;)

The most popular science fiction book is The Planet Savers, by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

That brings up another important point.  The Planet Savers was released in 1958.  While it may be in the public domain in the US (due to a failure to renew or an improperly displayed copyright notice), it may not be in other countries.  Unlike some sites, ManyBooks doesn’t make a point of letting your know that the book may not be in the public domain in your country.

Overall, Matthew McClintock, who maintains the site as a public service, has done a nice job in making these books available in a variety of formats, and makes finding them on the site easy.  The site assumes a certain level of technical expertise…you can find some step by steps, but it takes a little digging (and points you to other sources).

If you are comfortable transferring files, you’ll find ManyBooks to be a good place to find e-books, regardless of your device.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.


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