Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How to Find Free Public Domain E-books

Terrebonne Parish Library offers a wide range of e-books you can download to your computer or electronic device. Because most of these books are copyrighted, we purchase them, just like print books; and you check them out for a limited amount of time, just like print books. But not all books are copyrighted. In fact, most of the world's great classics are now in the public domain.

Generally speaking, any book published before 1923 is in the public domain in the United States. This means the works of Plato, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Mark Twain, and thousands of other authors can be obtained online--legally and for free. Terrebonne Parish Library's E-Library page offers access to thousands of free public domain books, in partnership with Project Gutenberg, one of the largest repositories of public domain books. Just click the link on the the left side of the page that looks like this:

This will take you to a page that lets you search for books by keyword. If you want to search by title or author, you may want to go to Project Gutenberg itself. Simply search for the author or title you want to read. For example, if you searched for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, you would find several different versions of the book. Clicking on the top one takes you to a page that looks like this:

This shows all the different file formats the book is available in. You can click on HTML to read the book on your computer, but most e-book readers are more compatible with PDF and EPUB ebooks. EPUB is usually the best choice for readers such as the Nook and Sony Reader, because it is designed specifically for e-readers. If you have a Kindle, there is usually a Kindle-formatted version available. Each e-reader works a little differently, and there are so many of them that it is impossible to explain how to download free e-books in a blog post. However, it is usually easy to find instructions online for each device.

Of course, Project Gutenberg is just one of the most famous providers of free e-books. There are many others, of varying quality, which can be found online. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the Sony Reader store also have sections devoted to free ebooks. These include public domain books, as well as copyrighted works that are being given away, usually by new authors who are trying to get their work noticed. These also vary in quality, but there is always the possibility of discovering a great new author.

If you need help downloading public domain ebooks, just give the Reference Department a call at 876-1733, option 2.

Happy free e-reading!

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