It’s been a while since I have posted the open mailbag – while I do try to answer each question that comes in, sometimes the time bandits get in the way or a question has been asked multiple times. The below are questions I have received numerous times over the past two weeks – I figure if that many of you are asking, there must be a whole heck of a lot more of you with the same question.
List of Links to Free Amazon Kindle Books
Last week, I had a post to over 22,000 free books in the Amazon Kindle store that were separated by category / genre (you can click here or type in http://bit.ly/HaHGhn into your computer’s web browser to see it again or if you missed it).
Violet D. had this question:
Love the links Michael, they are great, and are really keeping me busy reading! Thank you again. Are there any links to Cookbooks? Other than reading, I am into cookbooking too!!
I created and named the links the way I did so you could (hopefully) quickly remember them, so that if you didn’t have the list handy you could type them into a web browser and start hunting away.
Free Book Availability
I am frequently accused of sending out posts about books that are not free, or subscribers are wondering why a book is not free when they read on the blog a book is free. Here’s a message I received over the weekend:
My only — and minor — complaint is that sometimes the books aren’t actually free, they’re just free to “borrow”. I’ve accidentally clicked on the “Buy” button a few times after clicking the link to the book page from your blog and neglecting to check the price to see that the “$0.00″ is the “read for free” price.
And here’s another from a few days ago:
Recently I have clicked on several free books only to find that there is a charge unless you are a Prime member. What’s up?
A lot of times when I receive messages like the above, it’s because they are replying to a post I made several days prior to them reading it or checking out the link. Please understand at the time I post about a book being free on the Amazon Kindle site, the book is free at that point in time: they won’t remain free for long, as we have all seen books being free for as little as 20 minutes to as long as several months. The main thing is you just never know how long a book will be free – unless the author emails me to tell me about it (and I am able to read that email in time) – so please make sure you are checking the pricing before you hit that buy button!
Public Domain / Classic Books
Bobbye H. had a comment about some of the book descriptions and formatting:
Has anyone other than me ever gotten exasperated that the “community of volunteers” that converts classics to Kindle format doesn’t also take the time to write even a brief blurb about the book? As much as it saddens me to admit, I don’t always recognize every book title and remember what the book jacket said 30 years ago (I have a problem remembering where my winter clothes are stored even though I need them every six months).
One thing I have noticed is a lot of the public domain books appear to be lifted directly from the Project Gutenberg site without any formatting or editorial changes made for the Kindle conversion. It would appear it was done by a computer because, in a lot of the cases, there is no description nor is there a half-way decent cover (if there is a cover at all).
There are a lot of public domain books entrepreneurs have converted to the Kindle format, and done a good job of making sure they read well on the Kindle (and other eBook devices) – they also charge for those books vs. getting, for example, A Tale of Two Cities for free: the entrepreneur’s rationale is they took the time to make a pretty version of it, and they want to be compensated for that time. Usually the price is anywhere from $0.99 – $1.99, but I have seen higher pricing depending upon either the length of the book (which takes more work), the number of titles if it is a compilation (i.e., several works by one author in one eBook), or some other way that who knows what the methodology is.
I happen to agree with that philosophy, as the editor / compiler spent his or her time to make a nice version, plus if you bought a paper version of A Tale of Two Cities you would be paying the publishing company, too. Another reason I agree is I am an old-fashioned capitalist!
Amazon has taken a little bit of a different tact – they have taken down a lot of the many versions of various public domain books in order to avoid the problem of what was happening: at one point in time, I think there were over 400 different Kindle versions of Pride and Prejudice. While they still allow the entrepreneur model – and I’ve converted several public domain books a few years ago that are still up for sale on the Kindle store (don’t have time to do that now) – in many cases they will take the paid version of a public domain book down and defer to the free version.
That being said, at many times the free public domain version is in pretty bad shape as compared to a version someone cleaned up and charged 99 cents for their effort (of that 99 cents, the editor received 35 cents and Amazon the remaining 64 cents). I found that out with my version of A Tale of Two Cities as the free version was just awful and filled with page breaks and weird characters all over the place. I bought one for 99 cents that someone had proofed all however many pages there were, and it was 99 cents well spent.
You have to wonder sometimes – on one hand, I understand not wanting umpteen versions of Pride and Prejudice available as it is confusing, but on the other hand bad formatting in free versions just frustrates the ^&$% out of anal-retentive people like me: I totally lose my train of thought with misspelled words (not that I haven’t done that in a blog post many times) or formatting that makes me totally stop what I am doing.
Oh well, I have no control over it but I do know where the source is and how to convert them to the Kindle format myself (hmm…capitalistic opportunity to write a tutorial on how others can do it?)!
Many people want to know why I don’t promote the free erotica titles as, after all, some of the other Kindle-focused blogs do and also have sponsored-advertisements from erotica authors posting erotica titles. I’m reminded of a phrase my Mom always had for my sister and I growing up (hi, Mom!): if so-and-so jumped off a mountain cliff, would you? Just because other Kindle-focused blogs do something doesn’t necessarily mean I will do it, also.
As far as the “adult” or erotica titles, I’ve discussed this a few times . While I may post about a free hot and steamy romance (my Dad calls them “lust in the dust” books – that sure is a lot of parental references in one post), I’ve drawn the line at books offered for free in Amazon’s “Erotica” category or books listed on the Kindle site where the book’s description basically indicate there is a lot of sex, etc. in the content: people under 18 I personally know read this blog, and I am sure there are many more. As a parent I think kids have enough pornography thrown at them each and every day, and I certainly don’t want a stranger / blog poster throwing it in my kids’ faces so I will return the favor by not doing the same to your children.
Am I a prude? The people who actually know me and are reading this will laugh out loud at that comment as I’m not: I’m just an obese, grey-haired parent who is trying to set a great example for my kids and shelter them while they are young, and I feel pretty strong about it. There’s enough free material out there without lowering standards. Will this stand make the subscriber base decrease for the blog? I hope not but, at the end of the day, the number of subscribers are not my sole motivation for blogging.
Here’s a blog reply I received from a reader this weekend with the handle “Love to Read:”
Would it be possible to PLEASE note in your comments that a book has a very Christian agenda? I’m beginning to think that the only free fiction books are those that want to teach me a lesson. Thanks
Concerning the religious fiction or religious-themed titles I’ve gone back and looked at the distribution by genre of what I have told you about for a while now, as it seems the anti-religious groups out there are extremely vocal and almost violent with their abhorrence to anything pertaining to religion (Love to Read’s comment is fairly tame and suitable for publication in a family blog). The data doesn’t support the claim I’m promoting one genre over the other with two exceptions: the romance and mystery & thrillers genre (people love the romances and mysteries).
If a book has a religious category (or any other category) and I am aware of it, I always post what category the free book is in when I tell you it is free. If I don’t know about it, part of me just wants to say “that’s tough” as think about it: the book is free; I post about 200 – 300 free books each month, and I can’t please everyone each time – besides, there are many of you who like the religious-themed books and want more, and on the other hand the fantasy, paranormal, or business title fans want more of those.
Everyone has different tastes and likes and dislikes. I think the main thing is I can’t please everyone with each post: some of them you will love, and some of them you will absolutely hate (same thing with me – I hate most fantasy and paranormal books and avoid them like the plague, but I still tell you about them). If it bothers you that much, the only advice I have is to unsubscribe and check out other blogs that better suit your individual tastes. That sounds hardcore, and not very customer-centric, but I’m not going to purposefully “ban” a category because a few people are vocal about it.
Anyway, if you’ve read this far I’m impressed – this post is close to the 2,000 word mark. Have a great week!
Want to have this blog sent wirelessly to your Kindle vs. reading it on your computer? Try out the free two-week subscription! Click here for the Amazon page for Free Kindle Books Plus a Few Other Tips or type in http://www.tinyurl.com/fkblog into your computer’s web browser.