Summary: We and our students might be craving books while we’re home but without the resources to drop lots of cash at Amazon or iBooks or Barnes & Noble. What we want is that magical institution which is a library, of course. But what if your library is closed? If you have internet access and a digital device, consider these options.
Free eBooks—beyond your library
Baen Books—This science fiction and fantasy publisher is making some of its titles available digitally and includes some well-known authors. About 120 titles are currently available, but new titles are being added regularly. These books can be saved to a PC or sent directly to a Kindle.
Digital Book Index—Digital Book Index provides links to more than 165,000 full-text digital books from more than 1,800 commercial and non-commercial publishers, universities, and various private sites, including Gutenberg, NetLibrary, Google, and many, many universities worldwide. More than 140,000 of these books, texts, and documents are available free although some titles do have a download fee. Digital Book Index supports iPad, Kindle, & Nook readers. Loan periods vary depending upon the e-book source, but most are for online use. Searching can be done by author, title, author & title, title keyword, and browsing by subject, author, or publisher. Titles and subjects vary widely from science, history, and law to literature, the arts, and children’s books with some going back to the 1600s.
Open Library:—Hundreds of free ebooks are available from Open Library, a project of the InternetArchive and funded in part by the California State Library and the Kahle/Austin Foundation.
Project Gutenberg—Project Gutenberg allows downloads of over 33,000 free e-books to read on a PC, iPad, Kindle, Sony Reader, iPhone, Android or other portable devices. These are high-quality e-books previously published by bona fide publishers and digitized with the help of thousands of volunteers. All e-books can be freely downloaded. No registration is required. Note: OverDrive has linked 15,000 titles from Project Gutenberg that patrons can download and transfer to their portable devices. These checkouts never expire and don’t count against loan limits.
New York Public Library Digital Gallery—NYPL Digital Gallery provides free and open access to over 800,000 images digitized from The New York Public Library’s vast collections, including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints, photographs and more.
Free Audiobooks—beyond your library
Books Should be Free: Free Audiobooks in the Public Domain—Find hundreds of audiobooks in the public domain for adults and children that can be downloaded in MP3, iPod or iTunes formats or streamed on your computer.
Open Culture: The Best Free Cultural and Educational Media on the Web—Founded by Stanford University in 2006, Open Culture brings together high-quality cultural & educational media for the worldwide lifelong learning community.
LibriVox: Acoustical Liberation of Books in the Public Domain—LibriVox’s goal is to record all the books in the public domain.