Some free E-books pretty cool

I just got into this e-book thing…

heres a link to some free fantasy/sci fi stuff…


Cool. I’ve been considering checking out Honor Harrington, since I’m a sucker for female protagonists, but I’ve been wary because I’m pretty sure that most SF is pure schlock.

Microsoft is giving away some current best-sellers each week at … Two of this week’s selections look pretty crappy, but one is “A Short History of Nearly Everything,” by Bill Bryson.

These aren’t ‘backlist’ books – Bryson’s book just came out last month in hardcover.

You can read 'em on a desktop PC (although I can’t imagine sitting at my PC to read a book), or a notebook, Tablet, or Pocket PC.

Each book will only be up for a week, so go now if you want Bryson’s. (I’ve read a couple of his older books; they were quite amusing.)

Yeah there’s some Pournelle, Nivens and Lackey stuff too, not the greatest stuff, but worth checking out. Also you can just read em on html if you wanted to, don’t need the ms reader or adobe one…


Some other decent ebook sites:

University of Virginia’s Reader and Palm Ebook Library

Blackmask Online

Project Gutenberg

I’ve pimped it before, but uBook is just the ultimate offline text/html/ebook formatter. It can take anything on Project Gutenberg and intelligent parse and format it in a very readable format and also intelligently create a valid Table of Contents on the fly. It is really a fantastic program. I don’t even use Microsoft Reader anymore, unless I have to.

As with everything on the Pocket PC, the warez scene has just exploded for ebooks. The selection of books available on EFNet #e-books is just astounding. Harry Potter 5 was available there two weeks before it hit the stores. For me, it really demonstrates a major hurdle that is going to need to be overcome for ebooks to achieve any sort of real popularity: e-books are still being priced as if they were printed, but if you go to the bookstore and pay 20 bucks, you get a nice volume you can put on your shelf and can easily lend to friends. E-books don’t allow that - you are paying only for admission into a story, which is a lot harder to justify as a purchase, and consequently a lot easier to guiltlessly steal.

E-books do have some fantastic advantages over printed books. Being able to look up a word just by clicking on it is fantastic. Never losing your place and being able to search by keyword are other killer features. Yet, despite all of this, I only find myself reading throwaway stuff - pulp novels and the like - in ebook format. Part of that reason is because I want to own a tangible volume of edifying books. And the other part of my reason for that is pretty surprising - I find that I don’t comprehend e-books as well as I do printed books. This is completely against what most researchers will tell you: supposedly, retention is greater the fewer words there are on a page. That is probably true, but especially for more serious books, it is like trying to watch a movie through a keyhole. You are trading in a microcosmic understanding of a work for a less detailed but more valid macrocosmic one.

I find reading philosophy, science, politics and great literature to be pretty much impossible in e-book format. That immediately eliminates a lot of the great features like instand word look-up. But the form factor is perfect for pulp stuff - Mickey Spillaine pot-boilers, Tarzan novels, Tolkein, etc. And again, these are the sorts of books that people feel far less justified in actually purchasing for full price in electronic format.

E-books are far niftier than I thought at first, but it is telling that as voracious a reader as I am and as many e-books as I currently read, the only books I’m actually buying are printed ones.

The entire Baen monthly release schedule is available for $15.

I read them on my Palm with Mobipocket.

Hey DrCrypt thanks for the Virigina link, pretty cool. Read Notes from the Underground in an ereader … it reads like a forum post!

“I AM A SICK MAN… I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man. I believe my liver is diseased. However, I know nothing at all about my disease, and do not know for certain what ails me. I don’t consult a doctor for it, and never have, though I have a respect for medicine and doctors. Besides, I am extremely superstitious,”


Oh, and FWIW, here’s Erin Flint’s essay on why he made his books available for free.

I was invited to come by the organizers more-or-less as the “devil’s advocate.” In my own remarks at the conference, I stated that the fundamental obstacle to the success of electronic publishing was the industry’s obsession with encryption. The only successful electronic outlet I knew at the can now be added to the list, from what I can see-was Baen Books’ Webscriptions. And that was precisely due to the fact that Baen made no attempt to encrypt its product. As a result, they were able to sell electronic books both cheaply and with no hassle and aggravation to their customers.

I measure “successful,” by the way, using the only criterion that means much to me as an author: Webscriptions, unlike all other electronic outlets I know of, pays me royalties in substantial amounts. As of now, I’ve received about $2,140 in electronic royalties from Baen Books for the year 2000. (The last period reported.)

That sum is of course much smaller than my paper edition royalties, but it can hardly be called “peanuts.” Every other electronic outlet I know of, in contrast, pays royalties-if at all-in two figures. My friend Dave Drake has given me permission to let the public know that his best-earning book published by anyone other than Baen, in one reporting period, earned him $36,000 in royalties for the paper edition-and $28 for the electronic edition. And that’s about typical for even a successful book issued electronically.

Want the truth? Every single time I’ve tried to read a pirated e-book I get irritated because the thing is fucked up in some way and doesn’t read properly on my Palm.

Then I try to read them on my PC, get the Microsoft Reader, and the fucker starts reading the book out loud to me in horrible compuspeak.

I’m surprised publishers don’t post for download the first couple of chapters from every book they publish. I don’t like reading books online, but I’d read a chapter or two online to see if a book is worth buying. I’m sure I’d buy more new authors and probably more books if more samples were online.