Just as we’ve seen iPods and mp3s replace CD players and CDs over the past decade, eBooks and eReaders have grown in popularity.
Whether you have a Kindle, a Nook or an iPad, it’s not necessary to spend a bundle on reading material. You also don’t necessarily need a tablet. It’s possible to download the programs associated with these eReaders on most mobile devices and computers.
I asked Shoptimist blog readers about their eBook habits and got some great responses. Even skeptics who thought they would never replace their paperbacks have enjoyed their space-saving eReaders. After doing some research and taking the advice of readers, I’ve compiled this list of the best options out there for buying or borrowing eBooks. Where possible I’ve included a short blog reader review.
Roanoke Valley libraries have an extensive collection of eBooks available for download — and it’s all free. Readers can check out up to three books at one time, though the lending period may vary from book to book.
Once the lending time is up the books will be removed from your device. Searching for books is similar to searching in a regular library, so the process is familiar and easy.
Additionally, this service works on numerous eReaders, mobile phone devices and desktop or laptop computers.
Web address: www.rvl.info
Blog reader Jbx2 says: “I will pay a few dollars for a book from Amazon but a lot of the new releases I will get electronically through the library. … You get two weeks to read them and then they will come off your Kindle. You can also return them early if you finish them early. Sometimes newer releases take a little longer for the library to get in electronic form, but to me it’s worth the wait. Overall, it’s been a great investment.” (Note: The lending period is different from book to book.)
Amazon was mentioned the most in blog comments by Shoptimist readers. The site regularly offers a selection of free books and puts eBooks on sale often, some up to 80 percent off. There are also magazines available to read for free.
Anyone with a Kindle (Amazon’s own eReader), an Android or Apple mobile device, a desktop or laptop computer can access these titles.
With the Amazon Cloud you can store your downloads — a nice backup for anything that is accidentally deleted from a device. Anything on the Cloud can be restored.
If you’re an Amazon Prime member and have a Kindle, you can also access The Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. Here you can download one book per month for free and keep it for an unlimited amount of time. When you’re ready for your next free book you must “return” the previous free download.
Web address: www.amazon.com
App: Kindle Cloud Reader
Blog reader 3rd Fred says: “I’ve had a Kindle for about two years now. Have bought virtually all the ‘books’ from Amazon. There are some great buys for 99 cents to $4.99. A few duds too. But where else can you get a good edition of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare for about $2?”
If you’re a fan of science fiction or fantasy reads this is the site for you.
There are eBooks available for purchase here, but there’s also a wide selection of free downloads. One major negative to this site is you can’t sort titles by price, aside from looking at a separate list of free books. Books available for purchase generally range from about $4 to about $15.
Books are available for download on Nook, Kindle, and Apple and Android mobile devices. There are also some downloads that can be read on laptop and desktop computers.
Web address: www.baenebooks.com
App: None needed
Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble created its own eReader called the Nook, so owners of that device tend to prefer this retailer’s selection of downloads. Some titles are available to download for under $2.99, and many other eBooks can be purchased for under $5.
Don’t have a Nook? You can still download the Nook App and read these selections on Apple and Android mobile devices, as well as desktop or laptop computers.
Web address: www.barnesandnoble.com
Blog reader Fincastle Mom says: “Before the library (and still do many now) I got free books from Barnes & Noble website. I love that I can delete a book (very satisfying when they aren’t any good!) and I can ‘test drive’ authors and books before I decide that I want to spend money.”
This site describes itself as “Books for Business Professionals,” which is pretty appropriate as it has a wide selection of textbooks, business books and travel guides. Titles range from guides to navigating Microsoft programs to college texts to world travel guides, specified by different cities, regions and countries.
One major positive of this site is that everything is available to download for free. There’s also no registration required. Any device that has Adobe Reader can open titles from BookBoon.
Web address: www.bookboon.com
App: None needed
BookBub is a service that will email you the best book deals of the day.
In each email you’ll receive around 10 to 15 books ranging from free to about $2.99 per download. The site checks various sites for the best deals and then sends readers the link to each deal.
If you prefer Barnes & Noble over Amazon it’s no problem. If both retailers are offering the deal BookBub will supply both links for downloading. In addition to the daily emails, you can also browse the website for more deals.
The biggest positive of this service is that it sticks to one email per day — no spammy messages here.
Web address: www.bookbub.com
App: None needed
Blog reader Mary J. says: “You sign up, tell them your preferences, then they send you one (and ONLY one) email a day with selections from the categories you picked. Like other folks have experienced, some are duds, some are stellar. I’ve actually gone back and bought more of an author’s back list because I got one of their books from Bookbub and loved it.”
Like Barnes & Noble, this brick-and-mortar retailer is trying to keep up with the times by offering eBooks.
Downloads can be read on most eReaders (Books-A-Million does not have its own), as well as Apple and Android devices. Prices are a little higher on this site for new releases and popular titles, but it is possible to view a selection of special deals with downloads as low as 99 cents.
Web address: www.booksamillion.com
App: None needed
This site offers both free and paid memberships, but if you don’t want to pay it still has plenty to offer.
With a free membership you can access an unlimited amount of books in HTML format, which is supported by most eReaders, mobile devices, and desktop and laptop computers. Free memberships also give you access to five books each month that can be viewed in PDF formats; these downloads can be printed.
You can search the collection by genre or keyword, and textbook titles and magazines are included, but this site is more difficult to navigate than Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
With a paid membership, which is $7.95 per month or $39.97 per year, members get unlimited downloads of all formats, plus space on the website to store their favorite titles. The website says paying members also get priority when it comes to customer service.
Web address: www.free-ebooks.net
App: Free eBooks
This site has been popular among avid readers for years, but now it’s not just for sharing reviews of your latest read.
GoodReads now offers a list of eBook titles. If you’re browsing with no specific book in mind it’s handy because the titles can be sorted by price. Some classics are available for free and can be downloaded via PDF (these can be read on any computer with Adobe and can also be printed) or onto eReaders. Other downloads have a fee that starts at 99 cents.
Web address: www.goodreads.com/ebooks
Are you a fan of the classics? If so, this site has everything you’re looking for — and it’s all free. The site is easily navigated and not cluttered with ads like some of the other smaller sites.
Downloads are available in multiple formats, so you can read these titles on most eReaders, desktop and laptop computers, and mobile devices.
Web address: www.gutenberg.org
App:Top10 Project Gutenberg
Blog reader Dusty says: “Gutenberg.org is a great place to get free books if you’re down for some classics.”
What is your favorite eBook site?