By Noah Henry • February 06, 2014
They say the best things in life are free, but sometimes the best things in life are almost free—when you get such an amazing deal you feel like giving up some bucks in charity.
I love to read, but so does everyone; the most popular item to buy on the Internet is books. Once upon a time you had to go to your neighborhood bookstore to buy books for relatively the price of a high-class meal. Or, you could go to the local library and select from a small selection and have to return it within a few days. But with the Internet and the heroic (some say criminal) endeavors of people wanting to make the finer things in life more accessible, literature has been made much more affordable, and in some cases free, in just a short decade.
I admit to prefer reading the old-fashioned way: turning paper pages without staring into a laptop screen for hours; but I’m sincerely questioning my methods because of the affordability of electronic books. With apps engineered to comfortably fit full books on the screen and sites that’ll let you download content right to your device, it’s tempting to give up my righteously luddite ways. Let’s go over some of the reasons why buying eBooks might be the way to go.
Like many e-book sites, Free-eBooks.net is subscription based. You can choose whether to get a free account or go V.I.P. The free account limits you to only five downloads a month, which, if you work and have kids, is probably just enough. The formats are limited to PDF and TXT, which are combative with nearly every device.
If you like to devour books in constant in need of intellectual enrichment, the V.I.P subscription gives you unlimited access to titles and includes format every mobile device or e-reader. It costs less than $40 a year, which is about the cost of two bestsellers at your average bookstore.
Recently acquired by Rakuten, Kobo is an up-and-comer with four million titles and free apps for Apple, Android, BlackBerry and Windows. Kobo doesn’t exclusive offer free e-books, but their prices are extremely competitive. On the homepage a top-fifty scroll shows the current most popular books with prices as low as $2.99. Unlike Free-eBooks.net, Kobo features more of today’s popular and relevant titles. Daily Deal lists one very popular book at an exceptionally low price each day.
3. Project Gutenberg
Project Gutenberg is strictly electronic, which ironically casts aside any need for ol’ Johann’s creation. Before Kindles or Nooks or even the Internet as we know it, a man named Michael Hart became the inventor of the electronic book. Today, his Project Gutenberg remains, with over 44,000 free e-books and over 100,000 available from partners and affiliates. Over the years, Project Gutenberg has been outdone catalog-wise by other competitors, but there is only one original, and it still exists.
5. Amazon Kindle Store
Let’s use The Catcher in the Rye and The Tipping Point as controls. At the Amazon Kindle Store, they cost $2.99 and $3.99 respectively. On the regular Amazon the lowest price for J.D. Salinger’s masterpiece is $5, and the cheapest paperback version of The Tipping Point is $9. The Amazon Kindle Store offers millions of books and magazines, and many of which are completely free. Once again, Amazon proves itself as the master of retail and low-priced media.
6. Apple iBooks
Over two million books—many free—are available through iTunes with Apple iBooks. There is a set of features that are novel, including the ability to highlight, add notes and bookmark with your finger. With iCloud, you have the ability to create your own library and store your PDFs on a bookshelf.
7. Google Play
Google Play sells e-books in ePub format. The Tipping Point and The Catcher in the Rye are listed for $3 and $4.99 respectively. This media hub offers a vast set of freebies, primarily in the genre of classics, and some examples are The Time Machine, The Prince and A Tale of Two Cities—all for free. More than 23,000 classic titles are also available for free; in all, four million titles are yours for cheap in what was formerly dubbed the Android Market.
As long as you don’t mind reading from your computer, eBooks are the way to go. Otherwise, your best bet for tangibles comes at Half.com, Book Outlet and Barnes & Noble’s Bargain Discount Books. As for me, I don’t mind staring at the computer, as long as I have a page-turner to keep me entertained. So in conclusion, it might be time to change my old ways.
Noah Henry Noah Henry is an amateur movie critic, foodie, bowler, and beer reviewer. But he's no amateur when it comes to saving money, so listen up!