Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Free Ebooks

Who Decides Which Books Should Be “Classics” ?

Which books are classics?


Image courtesy of Benjamin Earwicker ~

Does anyone still read “The Classics”?

How in the world could certain individuals, even if they’re educated and wise, decide that certain books should be Classics?

If I pop up my WordWeb dictionary, “Classics” is defined as, “Study of the literary works of ancient Greece and Rome.”

But, using a term like “The Classics” and saying a certain book is a classic can be quite different things.

My Oxford dictionary has this note:

“…classic means ‘typical, excellent as an example, timeless’…and classical means ‘relating to Greek or Roman antiquity’….”

Back in January, Laura Miller, staff writer at Salon, had an article entitled, What makes a book a classic, with the subtitle, Do Vonnegut and David Foster Wallace qualify, and if not, why not?

Just a few excepts from her article:

“What makes a book a classic? That’s one of the most acrimonious, endless and irresolvable discussions in the literary world.”

She goes on to grind down the term “classics” a bit more then says:

“But there are a few places where deciding whether a book is a classic or not has real consequences. One is, obviously, classrooms, but the other is bookstores

And, ignoring the works of ancient Greece and Rome, she says:

“The cliché people most often cite when defining a classic is ‘the test of time’. The Count of Monte Cristo (1844) is a lot older than Rebecca (1938), but my completely unempirical gut feeling is that they’re of about the same literary quality.”

Then, after a few more provocative and fascinating considerations, she says:

“While the label is bestowed by the culture at large and we tend to judge it by an unquantifiable impression we have of how much prestige has accumulated around a particular book, that prestige is still built from the idiosyncratic experiences of individual readers.”

If you want more depth of consideration:

You can visit Best Classic Literature Ever at GoodReads and add your own classics :-)
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Get Free E-books during Read An E-book Week :-)

“Read an Ebook Week kicks off this Sunday.  Smashwords is again sponsoring the event for the sixth year running. Read An E-book Weel 2014

“Thousands of Smashwords authors will offer free and deep-discounted titles starting Sunday March 2 and running through Saturday March 8.”

Readers—Visit the catalog page of participating titles — “nearly 40,000 multi-format books regularly priced at free, and thousands more that are free or deep-discounted for one week only.” [the page will be active Sunday, March 2nd]

Or, check out “Apple iBooks – For iPhone, iPad and iTunes users, a click on this link brings up a great selection of FREE ebooks at the Apple iBooks store [you need to have iTunes installed for that link to work], organized by categories such as Featured Titles, Fiction & Literature, Non-Fiction, Children & Teens, Romance, Mysteries & Thrillers, Sci-fi & Fantasy, Biographies & Memoirs, Arts & Entertainment and more.” 

Or, “Barnes & Noble – A neat and well-organized collection of thousands of free ebooks organized primarily around Fiction, Romance, Sci-Fi and Fantasy, and Mystery.”

And, “Diesel Ebook Store – Offers over 20,000 books (many of them from Smashwords) in the epub format, but they’re not well-organized and cannot be browsed by subject category.”

All quotes above are from the Smashwords Blog:-)
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Some Ways To Use Project Gutenberg You May Not Have Discovered

First, a reminder that our latest survey is still active. Let me know what YOU would like to see on this blog :-)

Now, from the site Ebook Friendly:

“World’s first ebook ever, created by the founder of Project Gutenberg Michael S. Hart, was officially added to the catalog in December 1971 – and, obviously, is still available for download.”

In the article, 8 tips and tricks to get the most of Project Gutenberg, Piotr Kowalczyk says that there will be more tips for using Gutenburg in the future (might want to bookmark that article) then gives you these ideas (you’ll need to go to the article to read the how-tos):


1. Preview books online – with images

2. Send ebooks in one click to Dropbox and Google Drive

3. Get complete works of popular authors

4. Get new entries via RSS feed

5. Get new entries via email once a day

6. Search for vintage images

7. Access Project Gutenberg from your mobile phone

8. Browse Project Gutenberg from Google web search

Here’s the first paragraph of the Wikipedia article on Mr. Gutenberg:

“Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg (c. 1395 – February 3, 1468) was a German blacksmith, goldsmith, printer, and publisher who introduced printing to Europe. His invention of mechanical movable type printing started the Printing Revolution and is widely regarded as the most important event of the modern period. It played a key role in the development of the Renaissance, Reformation, the Age of Enlightenment, and the Scientific Revolution and laid the material basis for the modern knowledge-based economy and the spread of learning to the masses.”

Michael S. Hart, the founder of Project Gutenberg, passed away in 2011. Here’s a eulogy to him from the Project Gutenburg site:

“As spoken by Newby at Michael’s funeral, September 12 2011 (this sequence of words is granted to the public domain): ‘Rather than speak in whole sentences, which can be difficult at times like these, I will speak a series of words that characterize Michael. These words might help you to form your own memories of him. Friend. Visionary. Leader. Intellectual. Anti-Elitist. Digital Literati. Rebel. Frisbee Player. Hippie. Musician. Technician. Enthusiast. lover of Much and Many. Full of Passion. Scout. Veteran. Patriot. Pacifist. Humanist. Egalitarian. Educator. Man of the People. Builder. Maker. Speaker. Listener. Systems Analyst. Friend.'”
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Select as many as you like:

“Read An Ebook Week” Means *Lots* of Free Ebooks :-)

Smashwords is the world’s largest distributor of indie ebooks. ”

That last sentence is from the Smashwords site. The next sentence is from the Smashwords blog: ebookglasses

“Read an Ebook Week, the world’s largest global celebration of ebooks, kicks off this Sunday at Smashwords.”

“this Sunday” was yesterday :-)

Just two more excerpts from the blog:

“This will be our fifth year sponsoring the event.  The last couple years, as Smashwords as grown, the Smashwords Read an Ebook Week catalog has become the epicenter of much of the action.”

“Each year, the event breaks sales, download, and traffic records for our web site.”

Now, from the official Read An Ebook Week Site:

“Join us from March 3rd through 9th as we celebrate Read an E-Book Week. Visit the site often to download free ebooks offered from dozens of authors, publishers and vendors. You might find a new favorite genre, or author, during the week…  — Deals and Steals.”

BTW, Read An Ebook Week has more Sponsors than just Smashwords

Contests for Free E-Readers

“There are two contests this year:

“March 5th Contest for the Kindle Paperwhite

“March 7th Contest for the NOOK Simple Touch Reader by Barnes & Noble”

Here’s the link for those contests :-)

Also from that site:

Make your Used Kindle a Tool for Change

“Do you have a used Kindle that you can donate to change a life? Worldreader will accept donations of used Kindles and refurbish them. These e-readers provide almost immediate access to hundreds of thousands of books, from textbooks to bestsellers. Some e-readers also have added features such as text-to-speech for new readers, the vision-impaired, or children whose parents cannot read or whose native language is not the language of instruction. And, digital distribution makes possible the publication of much more local content, including newspapers, magazines, flyers and newsletters, health and voting information.

“To donate your used Kindle to Worldreader send an e-mail to”

“Read an E-Book Week educates and informs the public about the pleasures and advantages of reading electronically. Authors, publishers, vendors, the media and readers world-wide are welcome to join in the effort. We encourage you to promote electronic reading with any event. These could include: public readings, library displays, reading challenges, school visits, newspaper and blog articles, chat show appearances, internet radio interviews, e-book give-ways, and banners on your website.”

And, synchronized with Read An Ebook Week is World Read Aloud Day — March 6th.

“Read It Forward on World Read Aloud Day
“Celebrate by reading aloud, giving away a book, or taking action in any way you can to Read It Forward on behalf of the 793 million people who cannot read.

“Imagine a world where everyone can read…
“World Read Aloud Day is about taking action to show the world that the right to read and write belongs to all people. World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words, especially those words that are shared from one person to another, and creates a community of readers advocating for every child’s right to a safe education and access to books and technology.”

Go Forth And READ :-)

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A Very Easy Way To Find Free E-Books on Amazon

While Smashwords bills itself as “the world’s largest distributor of indie ebooks”, there’s no doubt Amazon has lots of them :-)

Finding the free ones easily can be a bit tedious

Wired-UK recently had an article called Site launches to help hunt Amazon’s free ebooks and that article quotes one of the founders of that site:

“It’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, to identify those books which are brand new or have recently become free, perhaps for a limited time,” Powell told “Once we had the idea, the site came together really quickly. It’s a very simple layout, and the coding on the backend isn’t at all complicated. We have a script that runs once a day, and searches Amazon for any new books, or books which have updated rankings.”

The site is Freebook Sifter and here’s a glance at one way you can filter the books they help you find:

Added Today (841)
Fiction (16080)
Nonfiction (4419)
Advice & How-to (619)
Arts & Entertainment (1358)
Biographies & Memoirs (435)
Business & Investing (595)
Children’s eBooks (564)
Comics & Graphic Novels (254)
Computers & Internet (161)
Cooking, Food & Wine (236)
Fantasy (864)
History (3711)
Humor (42)
Lifestyle & Home (615)
Literary Fiction (227)
Mystery & Thrillers (871)
Parenting & Families (227)
Politics & Current Events (234)
Reference (7274)
Religion & Spirituality (1307)
Romance (1008)
Science (1262)
Science Fiction (642)
Sports (142)
Teens (269)
Travel (254)

You can also sign up with your e-mail address and get quick notice of the latest offerings—here’s a recent e-mail I received:

Check out the 25 most popular new free ebooks!

This Little Piggy Went to the Liquor Store by A.K. Turner – 133 ratings, 4.5 avg stars
The S.N. Killer by Shameek Speight – 100 ratings, 4.7 avg stars
The Influence (Supernatural Thriller) by Matthew John Slick – 95 ratings, 4.6 avg stars
Jackpot! by Jackie Pilossoph – 82 ratings, 4.4 avg stars
My Last Blind Date by Susan Hatler – 77 ratings, 3.4 avg stars
We’ll Have The Summer by Dutch Henry – 72 ratings, 4.9 avg stars
Rubies of the Viper by Martha Marks – 68 ratings, 4.4 avg stars
Firefly Beach by Meira Pentermann and Amy Feiman – 64 ratings, 4.2 avg stars
Nice Day to Die (I Am Alive Book 1 Episode 1) (A Young Adult Dystopian) (I Am Alive serial) by Cameron Jace – 52 ratings, 4.8 avg stars
Pam of Babylon by Suzanne Jenkins – 49 ratings, 4.3 avg stars
Bad Wolf (Bad Wolf Chronicles: Book 1) by Tim McGregor – 46 ratings, 4 avg stars
Birdsongs (Benny James Mystery) by Jason Deas and Mary Metcalfe – 45 ratings, 4.5 avg stars
Drinking with Dead Women Writers (Drinking with Dead Writers) by Elaine Ambrose and AK Turner – 45 ratings, 4 avg stars
Moonlight Falls (UNCUT Edition) (Dick Moonlight) by Vincent Zandri – 44 ratings, 4.5 avg stars
Telling Lies by Cathi Stoler – 42 ratings, 3.9 avg stars
Treasure of Saint-Lazare by John Pearce – 41 ratings, 4.3 avg stars
The Mortician’s Wife by Maralee Lowder – 40 ratings, 4.5 avg stars
Time Slice by Kerry Downing – 38 ratings, 4.1 avg stars
Bringing the Thunder: The Missions of a World War II B-29 Pilot in the Pacific (Stackpole Military History Series) by Gordon Bennett Robertson Jr. – 37 ratings, 4.4 avg stars
Tunisian Crochet: The Look of Knitting with the Ease of Crocheting by Sharon Hernes Silverman, David Bienkowski and Alan Wycheck – 36 ratings, 4.4 avg stars

One last explanation from the creators:

“We update our database daily, removing books which are no longer free and adding any which have just come in.”

Think it’s worth checking out?
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