E-books on the cheap

I know you can find all the Kindle and Nook books you want on the internet for free. Hundreds and hundreds of popular titles for free! How can that be?!

They’re stolen. That’s how. And when you accept these books, you should know that you are getting the benefit of someone else’s work — whose income depends on book sales — for nothing. And, unlike a library system where there are a finite number of copies that were purchased, these books can be shared as many times as possible with the author of the book getting $0.  This is an issue I have a strong opinion on, and I’ve debated it, I have heard all the counterpoints, and I’ve probably changed exactly zero people’s minds on the topic. And zero people have changed my mind.

However, making it easier to help people find ways to get e-books legally and inexpensively does help whereas debating does not. Imagine that. People will still download books they didn’t pay for but perhaps they’ll buy some as well. It’s a step in the right direction.

When I’ve used the mighty, mighty Google machine in the past to search for low cost ebooks, I found a lot of really un-mighty websites. A book self published for the Kindle by a 9 year old sociopath would be listed right alongside a deal for a popular fiction book. Scrolling through the list o’ crap books to find the few great deals was more work than just checking around at my favorite discount ebook websites.

And what are my favorite discount ebook websites? I’m glad you asked.

The Kindle Daily Deal — each day, Amazon posts one or more books for $2.99 or less. Check back daily. I have gotten popular titles through this. Eden scored the first Nancy Clancy book for $1.99 recently. You don’t need to own a Kindle for this deal. Any device that has a Kindle app (your iPad, smartphone, etc) can get these deals.

The Kindle $3.99 — every month, Amazon rolls out 100 titles that are $3.99 or less. For October, I recommend American Gods (which I disliked but is very well liked for those who like the genre), Joyce Carol Oates’s disturbing Zombie, Lacuna (which I’ve not read but recommend because it’s Barbara Kingsolver), and the short story collection Guys Read: Funny Business. Check back in November… and December… and January for 100 more books for $3.99 or less. Again, any device with a Kindle app can access these deals — even your computer.

Kindle Singles – these are short stories, memoirs, essays, novellas and other short works that are generally a dollar or two each. All of them have been vetted by Amazon to be of the highest quality.

Nook Book Deals — Barnes and Noble keeps their $5 and under books easily located in this single place. You can also narrow it down by genre, which is supremely helpful.

Nook Daily Find — Same idea as the Kindle Daily Deal and the quality of the titles offered is the same. Recently, The Cider House Rules was offered. It’s a book I recommend and don’t recommend at the same time. If you want something moving and disturbing to stick with you, read it. If not, move on.

Nook Free Fridays — Every Friday, Nook offers a free download. You have to log in on Friday to get it. The author featured also recommends a book. So you get a free book and see what the authors themselves are reading. The list of previous offerings is at the link so you can see what you can expect.

Kobo Great Reads — Borders may have shut down but the Kobo ereader is still out there and still supported. I don’t know anyone with a Kobo, but they have an app and you can still take advantage of their $4.99 and under deals.

iBooks — this app is for iPad, iPod, or iPhone. There is a cheap book section within the app itself. The titles are often the same as the Kindle $3.99 titles.

Ebooks.com Mailing List — Join the mailing list and get a 20% off coupon every month. Not the deep discounts of the other sites but sometimes you want a book that is unlikely to be discounted any time soon and you are #578 in line to get the print copy from the library (I’m looking at you, The Casual Vacancy) so even 20% can hit the spot. Please note that the 20% off coupon may have restrictions.

Public domain books — I recommend Project Gutenberg as they’ve been at this a long time and have over 5,000 free books whose copyrights have expired in the US.

Your library. Most libraries have some sort of e-book collection. I’m fortunate to have a library that uses Overdrive, which is a very easy-to-use program. I understand it is expensive for libraries and some have had to switch to other programs. Ask your librarian or, to find a library near you that uses Overdrive, visit the Overdrive website.

And, for those who are into technology and innovation, O’Reilly offers a discounted ebook each day. While their 50% discount doesn’t dip as far down into the cheapskate pond as the fiction offerings of other sites, these books are worth it at their full price (so says my husband’s bookshelf full of them).

Do you have another source for quality ebooks that is both legal and cheap? Share in the comments and I’ll add them to this post!

Added from a Facebook comment:

There is a new e-reader coming out that will cost only $13. You will be giving up features as compared to, well, pretty much every other e-reader. Would the discount be worth it to you?

Great list!–and since I have an Ipad and the Ibooks app, the Kindle app and the Nook app I can take advantage of all of them!

Wow! I’ve been far too lazy to figure out where the best deals are on ebooks. I rarely even use my Kindle, ’cause I get most of my books from the library. The only time I really ever get a good, cheap ebook is when you email our homeschool group about them. Thank you so much for taking the time to put this list together for bums like me. =D

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