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Free eBooks

Who produces ebooks?

 Who produces free ebooks and fee-based ebooks?

Free ebooks

Free ebooks are available from volunteer projects, such as Gutenberg, the granddaddy of all ebook endeavors, from university-sponsored sites, such as the University of Virginia, and directly from an increasing number of publishers.

Project Gutenberg volunteers have been digitizing works in the public domain since the 1970s.  You read the books as text files in your word processor.  PG titles are the core of the free offerings available from commercial vendors.

University of Virginia Library Electronic Text Center contains literary classics, all in the public domain.  Texts can be read using a web browser, off-line using the Microsoft Reader Software, or in a Palm Reader format.  Contains scanned illustrations from classic works. 

Publisher websites.  Publishers such as the University of California Press are offering selected ebooks for free (as well as for a fee).  Some claim that giving away etexts increases sales of hard copy. 

ebook databases

Fee-based ebooks

netLibrary is the largest vendor of ebooks for web reading, offering over 40,000 titles (including some free public domain texts).  Libraries purchase titles and list them in their catalogs, then patrons access the books from any PC.  Only one user can use a book at a time.

netLibrary’s competitors have more limited collections and market directly to individuals or organizations.  Newcomers emerge regularly, some hanging for months before fading into the electric gloom.  Here are a few vendors (you need an account to view content):

Books24x7 offers searchable technical reference ebooks.

iBooks refers your browser to Amazon where you may find an electronic version of your selected title to purchase.

eBrary allows users to download Adobe ebook reader and read for free.  Fees are charged for copying and printing, by the word, paragraph, or page. 

Questia markets its books and articles directly to students – and their parents.  Students can search across titles, quote a phrase in their paper, and generate a citation - without having to read the book!  Educators have expressed qualms.

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Last update 02/28/2011 Sue Chen