Free ePub Books

In my last post, having been given a Nook as a gift, I took a look at the Kindle and Nook. Whether biased, or not, I thought the Nook was a better choice for an eReader, because of its ability to read open source, ePub books. I still hold with that analysis.

The problems I ran into was how to get a free ePub books downloaded, and then how to get a downloaded ePub book into the Nook. It took me awhile to research ePubs, and the software to get it on the Nook, so I thought I would share this with you. In this post I'll concentrate on getting free ePub books.

For eReading ePub books are best, because of their ability to change fonts and font sizes, and re-format nicely in the eReader window with good paging. PDF's can't do that.

Where do you get ePub books. A number of web sites are available that specialize in ePub books, like Feedbooks, or Kobo . However, the number one site I found cited was Google Books as having a large ePub content of over a million books available for download. When I went to Google Books, to look for free downloadable books, I couldn't find any, only books for purchase.

The operative word here is free. You can buy any ePub book you want from any of these sites and through Google, but I wanted to test my Nook, so I specifically was looking for free content.

Let's talk about free ePub books. In general, books published before 1923 no longer have copyright protection, and are available to download for free. This means authors like: Plato, Austin, Poe, Wells, Fitzgerald, Shakespeare, and Dickens, to name a few, are in public domain. Google has the largest catalog of these works, mostly in PDF, format, but a growing number in the ePub format.

Google protects copyrighted content by only allowing you to preview a part of the copyrighted material. If your looking for free content you want to only look at the content offered as full view, which means you can read the entire book on line.

Here's how you get to the free content on Google. Go to Google Books. In the search box search for "full view." Some authors make their copyrighted material available for full view, but still maintain the copyright, and therefore, the material is not downloadable; so click again on "full view" in the left sidebar. You now have public domain books you can download. If you then click on the book or material you want, that book will come up in the Google Book window. Along the top menu, at the top of the book, all the way over, at the right end of the menu, if the material is available for download, you'll see either, "Download" with an arrow, or "PDF." If there is an ePub, you'll see "Download," click the arrow, and select ePub. If the book is not available for download, you'll see nothing, which causes much confusion when you initially look for free ePub's.

Google Books and where the download button is located

What I've found is that free ePub books are available, but to find good ePub books, you have to search awhile for them. Leave yourself some time and search away.

Let's talk a bit about the ePub format. It's not perfect and has some quirks, but these quirks are common to all eReaders. The anomalies come from slightly different ePub formats being used for different eReaders with the addition of DRM proprietary software, which I'll explain in my next post. Let's just say that some ePub books may cause you some format and loading problems, but a vast majority will not. In some of the books you will not be able to change the font, in other books each Chapter will take a while to load, and occasionally the Nook will hang up on loading a particular book. I'll call these intermittent problems that are on a case by case basis depending on the book, or in some instances the publisher. The majority of the time, ePub books should run find on the Nook without any problems. Despite these occasional mishaps, ePub is still way superior to the PDF format.

Now that we have some ePub books downloaded, in my next post, I'll talk about how to get them to the Nook.

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  • Stan193

    Thanks for the info Mr. Gumbo. I’m looking forward for more info on obtaining free books for my NOOK.

  • Gerald

    I had a non-Nook ereader for 2 years until one too many drops recently broke the screen so I’m looking for a replacement, found your blog while looking for reviews on the Nook. Is the quirks in the epub format specific to the Nook? I never encountered any problems and had about 200 books on my reader with the same number in my Calibre library.