A couple of weeks ago, I gave you a few tips on keeping yourself entertained during the lockdown, and one of those was how to borrow ebooks from your local library.
A few people have been in touch to suggest other places that you can get free ebooks from, or to ask how to get hold of them if you’re not signed up to your library’s ebook service. So I thought I’d dedicate a full email to them. We are, after all, the Helpful Book Company, and books have always been pretty near and dear to my heart.
The Kobo App
If you’ve got a smartphone or tablet, you’ll already have a book reading app – the Apple Books App, Google Books or the Kindle app on a Fire tablet. You can also download a version of the Kindle app to any other tablet or smartphone if you like, to read Kindle books.
And on those built-in book-reader apps, you’ll find thousands of books that are completely free – either because they’re old and out of copyright, or because a new author is trying to get their name known by giving you a free book! The trouble is, those free books can be a bit hard to find.
That’s where the “Kobo” app comes in. It’s just another ebook reader and shop app, like the others (Kobo have actually been around for a really long time – they were one of the first companies to get into ebooks). But the way their app is laid out makes it much easier to find free books. Once you’ve downloaded it and signed up for an account, try tapping the menu button in the top left corner. One of the options is “Free eBooks”. From there, you can browse free books by genre – hurrah!
This one is a recommendation from one of our readers. BookBub.com is an American website but it works over in the UK (and in several other countries), too.
They’re not actually a bookshop themselves – instead, they pull together offers and free books from lots of other ebook and audiobook sellers. When you register with them (for free), you can tell them what types of book you enjoy reading. Then they’ll email you to tell you about any new offers that they think you might be interested in.
By default, BookBub searches American booksellers for offers – so when you register, make sure you switch to UK ones (or whichever country you usually get your books from).
For more obscure books, try Project Gutenberg
If you’re looking for an old book that’s a bit off the beaten track, your best bet is still probably Project Gutenberg. This project has been going for a very long time now, with thousands of volunteers all over the world scanning in copies of long-forgotten, out-of-copyright books.
There are some real gems on there that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else. It can be a bit hard to find your way around though.
To read a Gutenberg book on a PC or laptop, your best bet is to download it as plain text or read it online (HTML). For reading on tablet or smartphone, you want the EPUB version.
More ebooks on the Inner Circle
I’ve mentioned that when you join our Tech Inner Circle you get access to a selection of ebooks, included in your membership. They’re in the “Library” part of the Inner Circle website, and you can either read them on the website, download them or print them out for later.
For example, the latest additions are actually a serialisation of a book that we published last year about various different techy ways to keep in touch with your friends and family. It’s called “Making the Miles Fade”, and Mike’s just published part 7 of 8 this morning.
There’s also “Backing Up Demystified”, which includes how to back up things on your computer to a physical thing like a pen drive or flash drive or a hard drive you plug in. It also covers using “Cloud”, online backup like OneDrive or Google Drive on a computer, phone or tablet.
There’s also “All You Need to Know About Music, Radio and Podcasts”, “How to Speed Up Your PC” and “Make Your PC Easier to Use”– the titles say it all!
And there are some shorter booklets – things like “What You Should Know about Your Keyboard”, “How to Control Your Tablet” and “Eleven and a half little known things you can do on the internet”.
Quite a few of these (especially the longer ones) are only available to members – non-members can’t get them anywhere, at any price. Others are available to non-members for sale or as free gifts with other books – but Inner Circle members can get them quickly and easily without paying any extra.
That’s not all of them, of course, and we’ll be adding more in the future.
If you want to read a bit more about the Tech Inner Circle, you can, here.