Project Gutenberg has free downloads of public domain works in .txt .html and .epub formats. They were all created by volunteers over the past 15+ years. These aren’t high quality digital books, but they are free and without DRM, so you can read them on just about any device.
Scribd is a service where users can upload their own documents to share with others. You can download those documents or embed them into your website. Not all of the documents are books, but there are lots of books included.
This site has all legal free downloadable ebooks. I couldn’t find anything on the website saying which formats the ebooks are in, but my guess is that most are PDF.
This is a small but growing collection of free ebooks. Downloads are either PDF or ePub. Some are samples but most are full books by modern authors.
MemoWare has a ton of documents and files that are formatted for different devices. They used to advertize devices like Palm and Pocket PC, but now their website says their files also work on Kindle and Nook.
Amazon has an entire section of their website with free Kindle ebooks.
Adobe has a collection of free sample ebooks that you can download for Adobe Digital Editions. They are PDF and ePub formats.
Free ebooks organized into categories. Some are online and some are links to other websites for a download.
This is a big index of free books that you can find online or for download in PDF format. You could kind of consider it a Wikipedia for free ebooks.
Here is a great free online personality test that will help you find out your personality type according to the Myers Briggs theory based on Jung.
With the free account option you can get access to HTML ebooks and up to 5 downloads in PDF or TXT.
Early this month Amazon pulled the plug on Mobipocket. If you go to mobipocket.com now, you’ll find a selection of 12 free ebooks on the home page, but all of the other ebooks have been removed. The Mobipocket company was acquired by Amazon in 2005, and they used the technology of the ebook format in the development of their Kindle software.
Before being bought by Amazon, Mobipocket was an odd company. They were based in France and always had a very relaxed way of doing business, sometimes not responding to questions for months at a time, and even not collecting fees from publishers or retailers for months after they were due. On the other hand, I always felt that their software was ahead of its time. Unlike Adobe and Microsoft, they had a pretty good method in place for DRM. It was based on a PID (personal identification) number that was unique to each copy of Mobipocket Reader. All you would have to do was find that number and then enter it before you downloaded your ebook. Later, they switched to a username/password system, which was still much easier than Adobe and Microsoft’s complicated registration systems. The Reader was also very versatile, supporting most of the mobile devices of the time, like Palm, Pocket PC, Nokia, and Blackberry.
In 2008 there was supposed to be a version of Mobipocket Reader released for iPhone, but that never happened. I’m sure at that point Amazon had decided to stop working on the Mobipocket brand separately and just focus on Kindle. Around the same time, or perhaps a little later, people started complaining that the Mobipocket support forum had become useless because staff never responded to posts. Before that, the Mobipocket staff was quite active and provided most of their customer support through the forums.
So, what does this mean for people who used the Mobipocket format in the past? A few things:
– Amazon is claiming that they will keep past downloads available to customers. I would recommend downloading your Mobipocket ebooks as soon as possible just in case those downloads become unavailable later. They probably won’t last forever.
– Mobipocket ebooks with DRM can only be read in Mobipocket Reader, so if you need a copy of that, you should probably download it soon. Who knows how long Amazon will continue to provide downloads for it. (Mobipocket ebooks without DRM can be read in the Kindle software.)
– If you were reading Mobipocket ebooks on a Blackberry device, you’ll probably have to switch to Kobo. They provide an app for Blackberry. Your old Mobipocket ebooks won’t work in the Kobo app, but you can get Kobo ebooks from now on.
– If you were using another device that Mobipocket supported, like a Windows Mobile phone, you have less options right now. The majority of ebooks being sold now are PDF or ePub, and DRM for those formats is usually handled by Adobe’s Content Server. They do not support Windows Mobile (or other devices Mobipocket supported like Symbian and Palm). You will probably have to stick with non-DRM ebooks until an app becomes available for those devices that supports Adobe’s DRM.
Meanwhile, Lexcycle.com is still unavailable, so it looks like Amazon has definitely killed off that software as well.
With all of these ebook formats changing or falling by the wayside (not to mention devices as well), what should a person do? Amazon is doing so well with Kindle ebooks that I bet that format will be pretty safe to use for a long time. Even as they keep introducing upgraded versions of the hardware and software, you should still be able to keep using your older purchases. Other than that, I know that PDF and ePub have persevered over many years. PDF is such a ubiquitous file format that it’s likely to keep being used for many years to come, and ePub is by far the best format for smaller screens like smartphones and it’s still being developed. So if you’re not using a Kindle, it might be a good idea to read ebooks on a device that you use for other purposes, like a phone or tablet. Buying a device that’s only for ebook reading, or using an ebook format that is specific to one type of hardware, will probably be a poor investment in the long run. Instead, try and get PDF or ePubs and read them on a device that you’ve already bought for something else.
I have recently noticed a new frequently asked question. This is something that’s been asked on this blog and I’ve also gotten this question from people who buy ebooks. Like the title of this post, the question goes something like: “I can’t install Adobe Digital Editions on my device!” You can replace “device” for whatever device the particular person is using, such as their iPad / iPhone / Android phone / Android tablet / eReader / Nook / Sony Reader / Kobo etc. The saddest thing about this is that these people tend to throw up their hands and give up once they discover this seemingly insurmountable problem.
So here’s the good news: You do not have to install Adobe Digital Editions on your device. It’s not made for that. You’re only supposed to use Adobe Digital Editions to download your ebooks to your computer. There is no version of Adobe Digital Editions that is intended to be installed on a device.
After you download the ebook, you can transfer it to your device. For some devices, like e-Ink eReaders, you can use Adobe Digital Editions for the transfer. When you plug the device into your computer, ADE will recognize it and you’ll get an icon in the lower-left area of the screen. Then you can drag an eBook from the ADE library to that device icon. For other devices, you don’t even need to use ADE for the transfer. For example, if you want to use the ebook on your iOS device, you should follow my Bluefire Reader instructions. And if you want to use the ebook on an Android device, you should follow my Aldiko instructions.