Since over a year ago free eBooks have been a hot topic in the publishing market. Last week, however, The Washington Post reported that Amazon has been charging users for books they could get for free on alternate sites, including Project Gutenberg.
The article stated:
The titles in question aren't just public-domain books that have long been freely available at such sites as Project Gutenberg. They appear to be the exact Gutenberg files, save only for minor formatting adjustments and the removal of that volunteer-run site's license information.
This week's announcement of the launch of Google eBooks also brings together for the first time the many outlets -- from Amazon to the indies -- when it comes to accessing books on the web.
According to the United States Copyright Department:
The public domain is not a place. A work of authorship is in the "public domain" if it is no longer under copyright protection or if it failed to meet the requirements for copyright protection. Works in the public domain may be used freely without the permission of the former copyright owner.
This leaves thousands of works available for free download online. But where are the best places to access these free texts?
Last month TechLand published a list of suggestions for free eBook downloads. The piece recommended the eReader sites themselves for downloading classics, such as downloading Fyodor Dostoyevsky on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
Project Gutenberg offers thousands of downloadable free e-books in ePub (and others) format. Gutenberg is great for for exploring genres or topics with its bookshelf feature that can direct you to a list of science fiction works by title or author. (ePub files work for the Nook and the iPad, and the Kindle's .AMZ files are usually offered as well.)
Beyond Project Gutenberg and bookseller websites there remain many options online. Hongkiat.com features a comprehensive list of sites that grant access to free books online.
Alternately, sites such as DailyLit offer access to books in innovative formats, such as serializing books to RSS Feeds or daily emails. Now Google eBooks promises to link together your personal library online so users can read seamlessly across multiple devices.