The Top 13 DRM-free eBook SitesJanuary 4, 2008 at 6:44 am | Posted in eBook | 57 Comments
With the holidays upon us, many of us can think of nothing better than curling up with a good book. Therefore I thought it a good time to compile a list of the top DRM-free eBook sites. If you want to know what DRM is and why it’s bad when it comes to eBooks, see my previous post on The Perils of DRM-protected eBooks.
The following sites contain either completely free or DRM-free eBooks. Note that you may still be required to pay for a DRM-free eBook, although the cost is usually very reasonable, often around the price of a cup of coffee.
So without further ado…
UPDATE 5th November 2008 – I’ve created a new site called eBooks Just Published that announces new DRM-free ebook releases. Readers can subscribe using RSS or subscribe to a weekly email newsletter. The site is very new but I’m hoping to be able to announce at least one new ebook every day. Only completely DRM-free ebooks will ever be announced on the site.
1. Project Gutenburg
The grand-daddy of eBook collections, Project Gutenburg has over 20,000 free eBooks and contains classic works from authors such as William Shakespeare and Jane Austin.
2. Project Gutenburg Australia
A sister project to the main Project Gutenburg site, the Australian site has 1500 additional eBooks which are public domain in Australia (the works of authors who died before 1955). These may be still under copyright in your country, so check before you download them. The site also includes Australian literature, eBook reviews and various listings based on different categories such as children’s literature, classics, bestsellers, etc.
Another very large collection, sourced mainly from Project Gutenburg. There are some additional public domain and creative commons works from other sources. What Manybooks.net offers over Project Gutenburg is the ability to download the eBooks in a huge variety of formats suitable for display on a wide range of mobile devices. The site also receives several book reviews per day from readers.
4. Webscriptions and Baen Free Library
The Baen Free Library mostly has starter books in a series and sample books for authors who have many other books for sale. These are offered for free to entice you to buy other books from the same authors.
Baen also runs the Webscriptions website, selling non-DRM e-books from over 200 SF and Fantasy authors. The e-book prices are extremely fair and well below paperback prices. Downloads are available in formats that cover all e-book readers. There is also a subscription model that offers a package of 5-7 novels per month.
This site has both DRM-protected and DRM-free eBooks. DRM-free eBooks are listed as ‘Multiformat’ and it’s possible to restrict searching and browsing to just Multiformat eBooks. This site is well laid out and easily searchable. For example you can browse a specific genre and sort by Bestseller or Most Highly rated.
6. Double Dragon Publishing
A small independent Canadian publisher, Double Dragon Publishing has over 500 eBook titles in various genres, including Science Fiction, Fantasy and Romance. Most are priced at $5.99 but there’s a collection of 74 ‘Dollar Downloads’ which range in price from ‘free’ to $1.99.
7. Dr Who Classic Series
The BBC has made a number of rare and acclaimed Dr Who novels freely available. These can be read online or downloaded in PDF or the popular mobile formats.
This site has a good collection of very affordable eBooks but seems to have suffered from inflationary pressures as eBooks from BooksForABuck.com range in price from $1 to $3.99. Still you can’t really complain when you can buy an entire novel for the price of a cup of coffee. Each book is reviewed and also provides links to any external reviews. Many of the books allow you to read the first chapter for free.
9. Cory Doctorow
A science-fiction novelist who makes his novels available as free downloads at the same time as they go to print. All his books have received rave reviews.
The URL says it all. Only-Free-Fiction.com has a good collection of free eBooks in various genres. Each book includes reader ratings and reviews.
11. Speculative Fiction Review
A publisher of science fiction, suspense, thrillers, topical and mixed-genre fiction, Speculative Fiction Review has a small but highly rated selection of eBooks in Adobe Acrobat format. None of their eBooks have any DRM.
The iTunes of eBooks, iFiction allows you to read the first part of a novel for free and then you can pay a small amount (usually less than $1) to read the rest. It doesn’t have as many eBooks as iTunes has music tracks yet. The site is maintained by author Andrew Burt.
13. Steve Jordan Books
I’m currently reading and enjoying Steve Jordan’s latest novel ‘As the Mirror Cracks’. Steve Jordan is an author who publishes his own works in eBook format. His novels are $2.50 and he also has a number of short stories available for free.
UPDATE - A few great sites I missed the first time around
14. Free TechBooks.com
FreeTechBooks has a nice collection of free Computer Science, Mathematics and Computer Programming books.
FeedBooks.com has a pleasant Web 2.0 look. One feature I like is the ability to browse books by publication date, so you can quickly find recent works.
16. MobileRead Forums
Check out the ‘eBook Uploads‘ forum group which has over 3000 hand-compiled eBooks available for download. MobileRead Forums is also a great place to find any eBook / Mobile reader related news and information.
Let me know of any great sources I’ve missed.
If you don’t like reading from a screen or just can’t be bothered, why not try converting your eBook from text to speech so that you can listen to it on your iPod or MP3 player. Check out this recent post 4 Quick Tips When Converting eBooks from Text to Speech