Q: I know all about free ebooks -- it's all the works of Aristotle and Origen Against Celsus and stuff like that. Why should I even bother looking?
A: Actually, you may be surprised at how much is available that normal people might want to read. Check out the Suggested Searches and try some of them out. Some publishers offer freebies of modern books as well, and the search engine will find many of those. Also go to the More Free Books link at the top of the page.
Q: I've downloaded some books -- now how do I get them to my e-reader?
A: The Overview tutorial explains how to use the free Calibre e-book management program to, well, manage e-books and transfer them to your devices.
Q: I'm not obsessive like you -- I don't want 2,600 books, just a few. Do I have to go to all that trouble of downloading Calibre and setting it up?
A: Well, in iBooks you can just download an e-book and then click the "open in iBooks" button, and it will be available on your iPad. But say you lose your iPad -- isn't it worth the time to have your library all safe? Plus, Calibre will transfer e-books to any other e-reader you may obtain in the future. Um, plus, you can pre-load an e-reader before you give it as a gift, which would be pretty cool.
Q: It's worth the price to me of an e-reader if I can get my young son to read -- maybe a gadget will make the difference. Any recommendations on free books he might read?
A: Yes, I thought of you when I was putting all this together. I'd start with searching for ghost stories -- everyone loves those, and there are a lot of them. Also search for zombie and "Star Wars" and vampire and comic books and maybe pirates. We like the works of Frederick Marryat -great sea-faring tales.
Q: Argh. I found a good book, but it's not a downloadable e-book, just the book on an HTML web page to read online. Do I have to give up on it?
A: Hopefully not -- there's a tutorial for how to save an HTML page and convert it to an e-book in Calibre, because I suffered the same frustration.
Q: The Digital Comic Museum is cool, but I can't get books to download.
A: That site requires you to register to be able to download. I did, and it is cool.
Yes. Download and install Kindle for PC (or Mac). That software will download the book for you. Then point Calibre to: My Documents/My Kindle Content and download the file. Calibre will convert the book to another format for you when you transfer it -- read the basic tutorial.
Yes. Download and install Nook for PC. That software will download the book for you. Nook makes you take the additional step of downloading the book and making what they're calling a "local copy." Then point Calibre to: My Documents/My Barnes and Noble Ebooks, where there'll be a folder with your user name, and download the file. Calibre will convert the book to another format for you when you transfer it -- read the basic tutorial.
A: Another way Adobe is working to ruin your life. You can get to the free epub, but it takes some setup. First, you have to set up an Adobe Digital Editions account and download that software to your computer. That software downloads the epub book for you.
Then point Calibre to My Documents/My Digital Editions and add the ebook. Read the Overview if you need help with this. You can't read the book in Calibre -- if you click View you get an error message -- but you can store it and transfer it to your reading device.
A: Yes, but there's a one-time set up process. Download & install the Sony Reader for your PC or Mac. You need an account for the Sony stuff AND an account for Adobe Digital Editions (explained above). The Sony Reader Store treats even a free download as a purchase, so you go through the long purchasing process. When the book shows in your library, you can open Calibre and point it to My Documents/My Books/Reader. The epub is there. Note -- you may not be able to view it in Calibre, but you'll be able to transfer it to your device.
A: Calibre is (in the long run) easiest, but you can also connect your Nook to your computer with the USB cable; it will show up as an external drive -- just copy books over into /My Files/Books like the picture below:
Q: Questions, so many questions.... Can I email Aunt Lee The Expert with all my e-books questions?
A: Sure. I don't hold myself out as an expert, though -- just aiming to save others some of the missteps I took.