Saturday, August 1, 2009

Free E-book Downloads from Girlebooks

Can you believe it's already August? Wow, this year is flying by!

Today's stocking stuffer is almost free, it's do-it-yourself, and it's something you can do at the very last minute if you get caught short. All you need is a flash drive, which is the part that isn't quite free. But maybe you have one on hand anyway -- I have at least six or seven of them that I've picked up various places.

Have you heard of Girlebooks? It's a website with the tagline "ebooks by the gals". Their stated goal is "to make classic and lesser-known works by female writers available to a large audience through the ebook medium." They provide many free downloads of ebooks that contain works that have entered into the public domain, and also provide links to ebooks by women that are for sale. If you're not familiar with the term "public domain," it means books for which the copyright has expired, meaning that anyone can reprint the book and sell it without having to pay the author or the author's estate. In other words, these are generally older books, but don't let that fool you into thinking they're uninteresting! Here's a sample of authors for whom Girlebooks offers selected free downloads:

  • Louisa May Alcott
  • Jane Austen
  • Anne Brontë
  • Charlotte Brontë
  • Emily Brontë
  • Willa Cather
  • Agatha Christie
  • Helen Keller
  • L.M. Montgomery
  • Dorothy Sayers
  • Edith Wharton
The books are offered in multiple formats, including Adobe Reader PDF, eReader PDB, Microsoft Reader LIT, Mobipocket/Kindle PRC, and plain text. Unless you have a dedicated e-book reader, which I don't, PDFs are probably the best choice because just about every computer has a free PDF software, and if you don't already have it you can download it for free. I still generally prefer books in the printed form, but I have read a few books on the computer, especially at lunchtime at work, and found it easier and more pleasant than I thought it would be.

So back to the stocking stuffer aspect: all you have to do is take a flashdrive and download several books to it to have a great stocking stuffer for the book lover in your life. For instance, you could put all of Jane Austen's books on the flash drive: Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, and the lesser known Sandition and Other Stories. (Sandition is actually an unfinished novel, so they've collected some short stories into the same volume.) You can also take a shortcut by simply downloading Girlebooks' The Complete Works of Jane Austen as one file, but I actually like the idea of downloading them separately because Girlebooks has gone to the trouble of creating lovely covers for each of them. A flash drive filled with these books would make a lovely addition to a Jane Austen themed stocking (don't forget the Jane Austen action figure!), but it also stands on its own very nicely.

You could also do the same with L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables books, although unfortunately copyright restrictions prevent Girlebooks from providing one of the books in the series, Anne of Windy Poplars. It seems odd, but copyright law is extremely complicated and these kinds of oddities do occur. For Agatha Christie, only two of her dozens of books are available so far (The Secret Adversary and The Mysterious Affair at Styles), but you could combine them with the two Dorothy Sayers mysteries featuring her Lord Peter Wimsey character for a mystery-themed stocking stuffer. Or you could put all of Louisa May Alcott's books on the drive, or simply some combination of books by different authors. This would even work for a teen or tween girl, because you can get the classics Heidi, The Secret Garden, Little Women, What Katy Did, and at least the first three Anne of Green Gables books. I loved each of these books as a kid, and it's clear that they're enduring classics that each generation can discover anew.

You can conveniently browse the Girlebooks catalog by title, author, American literature, British literature, young adult, and new releases. And Girlebooks is constantly adding new free e-books to its catalog, so be sure to check back there, or subscribe to their updates so you don't miss anything!

1 comment:

Pam S. said...

this sounds really cool! THANK YOU!