One of the most amazing things that defined the promise of the eBook revolution and the availability of toys like the Kindle was the lower prices. When you cut out all of the expenses of physically printing and shipping and storing books, the information those pages contain will have to be cheaper, right? Well, as we all know at this point there has been a bit of delay in realizing this wonderful future as a general rule, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t places where we can get some great free stuff if we look!
Some of you might already be aware of the Baen Free Library. but I figured it was worth bringing up for the many of you that haven’t. Baen frequently releases portions of a lot of their more popular series, either in the form of free sample chapters or an assortment of free first volumes in lengthy series, on the theory that if you like what you read, you’ll want to read more. As a result, you can get yourself some really fun reads without ever touching your wallet.
Now, the library’s selection varies fairly regularly. Authors are given complete control over the supply of their work, including what is given away, when it is available, and when it’s pulled from the shelves. It’s an organized venue for authors to spread word of mouth. Which makes sense if you understand their philosophy that it’s easier to rely on the responsible nature of readers and ignore piracy as a serious concern than it is to spend all your time building up a complicated system to prevent the acquisition of good books by people who will find a way to manage it anyway if they’re interested enough.
What does this mean for Kindle owners? Well, obviously you won’t see these books being distributed for free on the Amazon website. You will find a lot of these books already in a convenient Mobipocket format though! I would personally recommend the BaenCD collections such as those found at Fifth Imperium. All you have to do is find the book you’re looking for, click on it, and download the .mobi file from the links on the left of the screen (incidentally, there’s another link for epubs for you Nook owners out there). Then you can use whatever method is most convenient for you to pop it from your computer over to your Kindle.
If you’re not familiar with these authors yet, and if you’re looking for a good long fun series to get into, I recommend starting with the Cryoburn CD. At a glance it looks like it has the ever-popular Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold in its entirety. As always, if you do find that you enjoy these books, give some thought to paying for them. These guys are giving away the sort of thing that most publishing companies are trying to make you pay increasingly inflated prices for and that’s something worth supporting, in my opinion.