Back in January when I bought my ereader, I had doubts whether I would be able to find enough quality content to read on it, given that I don’t buy DRM which still dominates the market. By now I have found enough sources; in fact, I am not quite able to read it all. Here is what I have been reading, in arbitrary order.
- Baen Ebooks has a free library.
- Smashwords has many free titles; it is common for authors to give away extended prologues or even first volumes of series.
- The Firefox plugin GrabMyBooks allows you to pack any web content as EPUB ebook. I regularly do so with CACM and Flash Fiction Online.
- There are some books floating around the open source community. For example, I discovered Pro Git recently.
Project Gutenberg offers English classics that have entered the public domain in multiple formats.
Gutenberg DE is the German version. Sadly, there are no downloads, but you can grab the text.
Project Runeberg is the Swedish version of Project Gutenberg. They have download as plain text and HTML which is easy to convert.
Over these last year or so, EPUB has been entering more and more publishing heads. I am particularly excited about Tor’s move to drop DRM; huge amounts of science fiction and fantasy are viable in electronic form now. Tor has a nerdy audience (both readers and authors) so maybe they felt more pressure than other publishers; let’s just hope that their example catches on.
Once tools for creating EPUB books become better, it will be increasingly simple to offer ebook versions of your content, be it fiction book, scientific article or tech tutorial. In my opinion, the phase of early adopters is past: with the spread of EPUB, ebooks have left the confines of big publishing houses behind and become a medium of the crowd.
Calvin Cross is a successful and loyal officer in Intel Wing, the Empire’s intelligence organisation. He is so good that he has been given his own command, the stealth frigate Nighthawk, despite the fact that he is only a half-citizen and therefore stuck at a junior officer rank. His latest mission has been to track down rogue warship captain Raidan who used his position to destroy civilian alien freighters without provocation. Raidan is tried by a tribunal and found guilty, but his motives remain unknown. The prisoner escapes under suspicious circumstances—hijacking a dreadnought in the process—and Cross is again ordered to find him. Cross suspects foul play as several facts do not add up and decides to investigate the underlying situation rather than hunting down the fugitive. While he tries to keep up appearances his mysterious opponents act to stop Cross and his crew no matter what.
Phoenix Conspiracy has a solid, but not brilliant setup. The futuristic world is very similar to ours despite the fact that humanity travels across space; culture and technology appear unchanged for the most part. It works well enough for this kind of story as the reader feels comfortable from page one and can completely focus on the intriguing plot. The conspiracy is nicely set up and the characters are likeable yet complex enough to feel real, including heart-felt emotion and sometimes funny, sometimes nerve-wracking conflicts. Only the ending seemed a bit too hasty and shallow for my taste; but then, this is only part one of a series so I will give Sanders the benefit of doubt, assuming the rabbit hole is deeper than it seems. Phoenix Conspiracy managed to captivate me and I had a good time reading it. I certainly look forward to the sequels!
Get this great read in a variety of formats for free and DRM-free on Smashwords.
Harvey Barker is on a revenge trip in modern London, killing the people he holds responsible for his sister’s death. He is a professional assassin, but an unorthodox one: he kills using feng shui, manipulating chi and karma to kill his targets without anyone the wiser. But he is not careful enough this time. Detective Amanda Morgan can not shake the feeling that a couple of apparently tragic deaths are connected. Meanwhile, the remaining members of the group Harvey hunts down try to recover and strike back.
I needed to suspend a lot of disbelief regarding the manipulation of chi and karma. The concept seems confused at times, but experienced manga readers should have no problems accepting it. Hall’s prose is not perfect but good enough so it does not distract from his decent story. He builds a good amount of tension towards the end, finishing a very entertaining and thrilling book.
Get this good read in a variety of formats for free and DRM-free on Smashwords.
All happy about my new Kobo Touch, I went and downloaded a couple of short stories for free at Smashwords.
Richard L. Sanders: Betraying Nexus — Jason is a mind bender of Nexus, a global, secret organisation that prevents crime by changing the intentions of potential criminals with them non the wiser. Jason has just brought down a former friend and colleague gone rogue; now he is to be promoted. When he discovers why Nexus works at all, his loyalty falters.
The story has an interesting setup and a good conflict. It may have worked even better in a longer format, I think; as it is, the amount of progress made feels too much for the timeframe. If you liked the movie Minority Report, you like this story.
David Sartof: Gloria — Oliver finds himself inside a remote cabin deep in the woods. He holds a bloody axe, standing above another man tied to a chair. He is going to kill this man, just like he just killed his own wife. Oliver just does not know why.
Fascinating short story! The amount of twists the author put in with so few words is amazing.
Mark Aragona: Vector — An alien race carefully investigates earth. Suddenly, one of their scout parties ends up in the middle of a beginning zombie apocalypse. What happened? Is there still a way to settle on earth in a peaceful way, maybe even help humanity survive?
Interesting idea and good writing, but the twist came too soon; the ending seemed more like an afterthought. Reversing the answers to “what” and “why” would have worked better. There is potential for much more in this one!
I have never really read short fiction before but I know see that it has its appeals. Maybe I will go back for more, but first I have to read some free classics and gratis novels.