A recent blog-hopping journey of mine landed me at a blog titled, “Planet eBook: The free eBooks blog.” I don’t know how I came across this blog but when I found it, the latest entry had just a short excerpt from the opening lines of Paradise Lost along with a generic book cover for Milton’s epic poem.
Then I saw that it had a “download page” link at the bottom of the post. I clicked on the link, which took me to a page with two available downloads: 1-page version or 2-page version I was like, “No…really? The entire work? It can’t be…” but I downloaded the 2-page version anyway. (The 2-page version shows two pages side-by-side from the book on each single pdf “page.”)
And sure enough, in a couple of seconds, I was electronically flipping through an extremely sharp-looking, easy to read, professionally done copy of Paradise Lost in its entirety on my laptop! Immediately thinking this was too good to be true, and had to be illegal, I of course did the only logical thing: I tried to get as many other books as possible before the site got shut down! I went on a clicking and downloading frenzy for the next half-hour, getting both one- and two-page versions of Dickens, Bronte, Dostoevsky, Kipling, Shelley, Twain, and many other pillars of the English language. I then found the home page of the wonderful people (or person?) behind this project and I went to the “about” page…to be relieved, joyful, and thankful when I read this message:
…. Existing free eBooks on the Web tend to be well beneath the quality of paper books, making them more difficult and less pleasurable to read. At Planet eBook we’re trying to change this. Our goal is to publish a small selection of high-quality eBooks — each a genuine alternative for readers wanting to enjoy reading a book without having to pay for it. The books we publish are all in the public domain so there is no real need for readers to continue to pay for them.
So no, you’re not going to find the latest Phillip Roth or Cormac McCarthy on there, but you’re going to find a bunch of great classics from centuries past — many of which I personally have yet to crack open. And the quality of each release really is admirable. Check out their version of Frankenstein (one of the reasons I became an English major). This is the front “cover” opened in a regular ole’ default pdf reader (click to enlarge):
They update pretty regularly too, so you can just subscribe to them in a feed reader like I do, and have a free book delivered to you every few days. After my experience, I went back to the Paradise Lost post and left a very excited comment. I was so excited, I even offered to open up my wallet!
(Note: I haven’t jumped on the Amazon Kindle bandwagon, but I believe these free ebooks will work on the Kindle or other electronic print readers. Those devices are a bit too expensive for me right now. But I’m sure we’ll all have one of them sooner or later.)
Song of the Day: