The Reluctant Convert

I am a a firm resister to change trapped among a sea of early adopters. This is often a topic of amusement among my friends; I think I was the last person to get a cell phone, for example, and even then it was only under considerable duress and with much token resistance in the interests of defending my honour as a rejector of all newfangled technology. I still regard the mobile infernal device with suspicion on the level of that reserved for a very large, obviously very angry dog loose in the middle of the road. It is to be approached with extreme caution, if at all.

But I digress. In December, I was given an iPad[1. Ok, ok, peanut gallery, have your laughs.]. My initial response was ‘what the heck am I going to do with this?’ Then I realised that I could load ebooks on it, but wasn’t wildly enthused about this, because I was strongly resistant to the ebook concept, which, of course, all of my friends had long since embraced. I didn’t really see the point of pulling up a book on the screen when I spend most of my days looking at a screen for most of the time. And while I can and do use my laptop in bed, I cannot curl up with it in the same way that I can with a book. Thus, the point of ebooks kind of escaped me.

It’s not that I was opposed to their existence, mind, or thought that people who were into them were weird, I just didn’t really get the purpose, for me, given the way I engage with books and printed media. But I decided to give it a shot because it was also pointed out to me that there are vast troves of free ebooks, and I am a sucker for a free book[2. Except when someone is trying to foist it on me for review, because I do not accept products and services for review, as we all know, yes? Ok.]. So I duly poked around a bit in various ebook resources, and emerged triumphant with a handful of books.

And then I got it. The entire glorious point of ebooks. And the iPad and I have been inseparable ever since. I love that I can carry multiple books around at once, an especially pertinent issue for me right now given that I am spending so much time in the veterinarian’s waiting room and Cat Fancy really doesn’t do it for me[3. I thought about getting them a subscription to The Atlantic or something, but I have a feeling they’d look at me with even more pity than they already do, so I didn’t.]. I also love that when I dislike a book, I can promptly stop reading it, skip the throw it across the room part, and instantly pull up something else to read. If I’ve read everything I have loaded, I can download something in, you know. A minute. It’s pretty rad and it’s definitely changing the way I read.

I was going to see if I could go a whole year just reading free[4. And legal.] ebooks; we’ll see how well that works out for me. The main obstacle I’ve encountered at this point is that in terms of modern books, the pickings are…slim. There’s a lot of self published stuff, most of which is really rather bad; editors exist for a reason, people. You can sometimes pick up promos from publishers but it’s a grab bag in terms of what you will get. Occasionally I stumble on something really great and other times, not so much. I will say that, if you’re a romance fan, free romances abound. I’ve found myself reading some pretty odd things I wouldn’t have picked up if they hadn’t been free, which is a bit of good and a bit of bad, I suppose.

There are a lot of classics online, but unfortunately I already own, well, rather a lot of them, or have read them and don’t really have an interest in doing so again at this point in time. Although I was delighted to find a veritable treasure trove of O. Henry stories. My chortles of delight were probably heard across six counties, right before I vanished behind the screen for seven hours straight to devour them all. That man, I tell you what, he is a master of the short story.

Anyway, here are some of the free ebook resources I’ve found:

Feedbooks. Feedbooks also has paid books, but they have a big stash of classics as well as new original fiction, some of which is really rather good. There are also sometimes publisher freebies on there, usually from small presses. There’s a pretty good mix.

Project Gutenberg. I sort of assume you have heard about them since they are the motherlode of free ebooks, the first and last, alpha and omega, and etc. I actually find their catalog kind of overwhelming to browse because there is so much of it. But if you know what you are looking for, it’s a great resource.

Many Books. This resource is a bit repetitive, as it draws from the same public domain sources Feedbooks and Project Gutenberg do. But, what the hay, I’ll include it anyway.

A shortcut to all currently free non-public domain Kindle titles. If you use a Kindle or Kindle application, it’s useful. If not, well, you can convert the Kindle format to something your ereader can actually use. This is a really good resource for free books from publishers and I’d recommend checking regularly because things are rotated in and out.

Try Harlequin. If you want to start with some basic romance titles, here you go!