Finding Free E-Books

The Web4Lib discussion list hosted by Webjunction is an interesting one to lurk on.  I occasionally contribute but I mostly learn from other posts, both questions and answers.  There was an interesting thread in the last few days, on sources for free e-books.  The initial post highlighted Project Gutenberg, one of the best known.  But it was interesting to see the variety of other sources.  There were a couple from South Africa, and a nice quick list of the digitized books (like Google Books).

There were a couple of nice lists of sources, from the Public Library Association and others.  Chris Rippel of the Central Kansas Library System forwarded the most comprehensive list that I’ve seen.  You can access the almost-complete Web4Lib thread here, but some of the messages didn’t get properly threaded, and more may appear on the site in the next few days.

I’ve looked at a couple of sites for e-books, when I was looking at electronic files to download and read on portable devices.   The University of Virginia has gotten rid of its dedicated site, but still has e-books available within its larger Virgo catalog.

During the course of looking at some of these resources, I saw the PLA post about NOLO’s free law books online.  They are not e-books (you can’t download them for free to a Kindle or other e-reader) but it’s handy to have the books available for self-represented researchers.

2 Replies to “Finding Free E-Books”

  1. Do you find, David, that too much of the discussion is still focused on “reading” material? I’m not finding a whole lot of useful writing on how ebooks are affecting research and information discovery. Early days?

    1. I think you’re right about early days. What’s out there is largely historic stuff or general interest current books. But if you look at what is downloadable (as opposed to Google Books, etc.), I think the pickings are slim for anyone doing research. The e-books are still just PDF-equivalent analogs of the print. Until the publishers get more innovative, where e-book doesn’t mean electronic-copy-of-print-book, I’m not sure there will be anything to talk about. Then again, perhaps the useful e-book resource for researchers isn’t an e-book, it’s a database or app, so we may be waiting on the wrong train platform.

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