Free Electronic Books

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kindle Ocean Springs        Having read the papers with a nice light rain outside as I was stumbling around in the pre-dawn, I found an intriguing posting by Stephen Windwalker about Kindle books on his Facebook status update.  He’s a stone cold Kindle fanatic and seems to be one of the worlds’ premier experts on Kindle as well, so this was interesting.

Kindle is a device put out by Amazon in early 2008 that runs about $300 and because of a free wireless connection allows for the downloading of books, magazines, and newspapers online to the device. Pretty slick thing, and if you read (and travel) a lot (and buy books) and don’t want to haul 10 pounds of paper around the world plus are still dealing with the post-Katrina difficulty of getting newspaper delivery for the Times and WSJ (though I’ve now just gone on-line with both and learned to like it), it seemed an easily amortized bargain at the time, so this was one of the few areas in which I found myself a first wave early adopter of a new tech thing for the first time.
Looking on Steve’s kindle blog he had a button about free books, so irresistibly I clicked onto it.  Wow!  Seems there are almost 7500 free books!  Going through the first couple hundred entries, I was amazed.  I suspected a bunch of harlequin garbage or something.  Wrong!  It was a treasure trove of classics, probably long out of copyright, that anyone would want – ok, that I would want – in any good electronic library or any library at all.
There were fictional works by Mark Twain, Jack London, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Robert Lewis Stevenson, Lewis Carroll, Edith Wharton, Arthur Conan Doyle, Virginia Wolff, T. E. Lawrence, Henry James, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and on and on and on.  I also found Plato, Aristotle, Adam Smith, Machiavelli, de Tocqueville, Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Henry David Thoreau, and more!  A hundred of such titles that could liven up hundreds of hours on a plane or elsewhere and the Kindle becomes a huge bargain, but it’s less about the Kindle and more about how to make electronic books accessible at low or no cost to anyone with a computer and an internet connection.
What a treasure trove and an opportunity!