At a gathering of friends the other night, someone suggested that since so many of our friends received Kindle Fires for Christmas, a Kindle Fire how-to blog series might be in order. So, here is the first installment.
One of the neatest parts of owning a Kindle or Kindle Fire is the amazing number of free and really, really cheap books. They are a mixture of books published by the “big” publishing houses and offered free for a very limited time, new authors and independently published authors. And there seems to be plenty of free books available in all genres.
Amazon — as I write this Amazon is featuring more than 4000 free books for Kindle. I would suggest that you bookmark this link to Amazon’s free books http://amzn.to/bookload so that you can return to it time after time. On the left side of the page is a list of genres and the number of free books available in that genre. (WARNING — many of these books are free for a limited amount of time, so always look closely at the price before clicking “buy.”)
Next, you need to get notified of new free books. There are a number of “notifiers,” and I’ll give my opinion and how to access them:
Free Kindle Books & Tips, by Michael Gallagher is my favorite. Michael sorts and sifts the available books, and he will generally only post high quality books. His blog posts include a description of the books and links to them on Amazon’s site. Go to the Blog site: http://fkbt.wordpress.com/ and also like this blog on Facebook.
Book Gorilla features categorized list of free books on left side of page, and a categorized list of $0.99 books on the right side of page. The center features “deals” that may be free, or at least cheap. There doesn’t seem to be any filtering out of any genre on this site. Go to http://www.bookgorilla.com/, bookmark it, and you can also sign up for the Kindle Nation Daily newsletter here too. Book Gorilla also features a “Kindle Kids Corner” too.
E-ReaderIQ is a huge site, with lists of free Kindle books, search functions, price drops, recently “Kindlized,” etc. Once again, book mark this site: http://www.ereaderiq.com/, sign up for the emails, and like it on Facebook.
Pixel of Ink is another site, with categorized lists, etc. I like their useful links, which include “best Kindle books” lists for genres, years, etc. They also provide easy to navigate lists of helps too. Again, go to http://www.pixelofink.com/ , bookmark the page, sign-up for the emails and like them on Facebook.
Harford County Public Library is providing downloadable ebooks through Maryland Digital ELibrary Consortium (MDEC). While I am a huge fan of the library, I must admit that they are “running to catch up,” with ebook popularity. Today a warning banner appears on their site that due to holiday demand, the MDEC and Overdrive (the provider) are running slow. My experience over the last few months has been that if you’re not picky about what you read, you can always find something within a specific genre on the MDEC website. However, if you’re looking for a popular book, expect to join the queue. Once you get to the front of the line, you’ll have 3 days to download your book loan. Loans are for 14 days. To get started, go to http://hcplonline.org/books/download/. (Bookmark it!) Click on the MDEC banner (looks like the MD flag), and then click on it again. You’ll be at the MDEC list of books. Navigate to something you want to borrow, and then click on the book. Choose one of the options (Kindle Books) and click the add to cart. (You can add up to four books at a time on your library card.) The next screen will say “get for Kindle.” When you click that link you will be taken to an Amazon page with a link to “download to your device. That’s it! You’ve borrowed your first library ebook.
Why sign up for emails, like on Facebook, and bookmark websites for four different sources? Because while each one of these sites often feature the same books, they often have a few different books too. And you’ll want to try them all on for size – you’ll find your favorite eventually.
More about free books: First of all, ALWAYS carefully check the price before you click. Free books are often only free for a few hours, and no matter how carefully Amazon updates its website, boo-boos do happen. Second, you may find both gems and clunkers as you download and read on your new Kindle Fire (or Kindle). But that’s true no matter where or how you obtain your books. And keep in mind that free books mean you don’t need to stress over them. I once downloaded a book that sounded so promising, but seemed to have been edited by preschoolers. It was actually painful to read. As I slogged on page after page, it finally came to me – I had literally thousands of other books to choose from – click delete! But at the same time I’ve run across a number of new, independent authors that I’ve made a note to follow, because their first books were so wonderful.
Next article: customizing your newsreader(s).