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Finding Ebooks Online


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So you've checked out one of the North Bend Public LIbrary's e-readers? Or maybe you have one of your own? Or maybe you just want to see what all the fuss is about e-books? Whatever your reason, this walkthrough will guide you through how to find e-books from various primarily free sources on the internet.

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Finding Ebooks Online

  1. 1. Finding E-books Online Summary So you're interested in e-books. Perhaps you've checked out one of the Library's Sony Reader e-book devices. Or maybe you'd like to read some e-books on your mobile phone. Whatever your interest, this walkthrough will show you how to navigate various free e- book sources on the web. You'll be acquainted with what an e-book is, where to look for e-books online, and how to download those e-books to your computer. Table of Contents What is an e-book and why should I read one?......................................................2 Finding E-books Online.......................................................................................3 Google Books....................................................................................................4 Internet Archive.................................................................................................7 Project Gutenberg..............................................................................................9 Feedbooks.......................................................................................................10 ManyBooks......................................................................................................12 Want More?.....................................................................................................14 This document is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License. For more information, visit Finding E-books Online, p.1
  2. 2. What is an e-book and why should I read one? E-books, short for electronic books, are essentially digital versions of printed books. They can be read on various electronic devices such as personal computers, mobile phones (as shown at right), or e-readers such as the Amazon Kindle or Sony Reader. E-books come in various file formats, although the EPUB format is quickly becoming one of the most popular. E-books are often also produced as Portable Document Format (PDF) files. E-readers like the Sony Reader are specially designed to be able to read e-books. However, computers and mobile phones often require separate software to be able to read e-books. Common software for personal computers includes Sony Reader Library (, Adobe Digital Editions (, and Microsoft Reader ( E-books have several advantages and disadvantages compared to printed books. Advantages: • Portability: Since e-books can be read on a number of devices, they can be taken almost anywhere. They have relatively small file sizes, so one device holds multiple e-books. This makes bringing reading material while traveling much easier. • Cost: E-books are often cheaper than printed books, since publishers do not incur the expense of printing them on paper and shipping them. • Linking: E-books often include links (similar to links to websites) that allow you to quickly skip through to different chapters or to jump back and forth from footnotes. Disadvantages: • Device-dependent: With a printed book, you can simply pick it up and read it, as long as it's in a language you understand; nothing additional is needed. However, e-books require you to have some sort of technology on which to read them. These devices often require power, such as batteries or wall chargers. • Digital Rights Management (DRM): Depending on the licensing terms when buying them, e-books often cannot be lent or resold. Often, customers are purchasing a right to read an e-book rather than actually buying a copy of the book to own, as with a printed book. • Obsolescence: Since e-books are technological, different e-book formats or devices are liable to become obsolete like other technologies. E-books thus may need to be converted to other formats eventually. Because of the advantages and disadvantages, e-books are definitely a technology that will be around for a while. However, they likely won't replace printed books anytime soon. We hope that you'll experiment with them to see if e-books are right for you. The next few pages will show you a bit more about e-books and e-readers. Finding E-books Online, p.2
  3. 3. Finding E-books Online One nice feature of e-books is that you can read them on a variety of devices: personal computers, netbooks, mobile phones, e-readers, etc. Each device is a little bit different, so we'll leave the explanation for how to transfer the books to the device itself up to the manual that came with your gadget. However, we will show you how to find various e- books online and download them to your computer. If you'd like to try one of these devices, you can check out e-readers from the North Bend Public Library. We purchased the touch edition of the Sony Reader (model no. PRS- 600), a popular e-reader that can be operated simply by touching its screen (similar to an iPhone, ATM, or grocery store self-checkouts). Just ask at the Library if you're interested (541-756-0400,! E-books can be found various places on the internet, both paid and free. Popular paid e- book websites include Amazon (, (, Fictionwise (, and the Sony eBook store ( However, this walkthrough will focus on several free e-book resources. Google Books ( Google Books is perhaps the best known free source of e-books on the web. The site include literally millions of books that have been digitally scanned and placed online. It also includes previews of current books provided by publishers. Many of these titles can be viewed or downloaded for free. Internet Archive ( The Internet Archive, like Google, has been digitally scanning library books from around the world. They primarily focus on works in the public domain (i.e. works that are no longer in copyright, generally those published before 1923 in the United States). These scanned texts can be downloaded from the Internet Archive's website. Project Gutenberg ( Project Gutenberg is one of the oldest e-book websites around. Like the Internet Archive, it primarily focuses on public domain works. One nice feature of Project Gutenberg is that titles can be downloaded in many different file formats. It is an excellent source for classic books. Feedbooks ( Like other sites mentioned, Feedbooks offers several public domain titles for download. It also allows you to download books from several contemporary new authors. Try this site to find something new! Finding E-books Online, p.3
  4. 4. ( Are you looking for a bit more variety? provides a mix of new and old titles in a variety of categories. This includes popular fiction genres (romance, science fiction, etc.) as well as various nonfiction titles. There are several more sources of e-books on the web, but we'll give you detailed steps for how you can use these great resources. Google Books ( Google Books is an effort by the popular search engine company to make the vast amounts of knowledge stored in printed books searchable on the web. There are two parts to the program: the Library program, which seeks to digitally scan books from libraries around the world, and the Partner program, which allows publishers and authors to place free previews of their books online. One nice feature of Google Books is that you can search it as simply as you would search for information on the Google search engine. Simply type what you're looking for into the search box on the Google Books website (shown below). Search box Use to search for specific books. Categories Use to browse various topics or genres of interest. Let's try a search. Say you're searching for a copy of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Click your left mouse button once inside the box next to the Google Books logo. Type “dracula” (no Finding E-books Online, p.4
  5. 5. quotes) in the search box and left-click “Search Books.” You'll get a list of results like that shown below. Your results show books that include the word “dracula.” By clicking the title of the book, you can view at least part of the title. Some of them you may be able to view in their entirety, or even download them to your computer. Most of them, however, you will not. For many, you may only be able to see a few passages of the books with the word or phrase you viewed (called the “snippet view”). Titles that are not fully viewable are still subject to copyright. You can limit your search results to only books that you can view in full, or even only to books that are in the public domain, by using the options on the left side of your screen. These options are explained below. Shows all books, even those are still in copyright and not fully viewable. Only shows books that can be viewed in their entirety. Only shows books that are in the public domain, i.e. that are no longer subject to copyright. These books generally have fewer restrictions, so you can often download them. Click “Public domain only” now. Your list of results will change, showing similar results to the picture below. You'll see that the book we want, Dracula by Bram Stoker, is right on the top! Click the title of the book now to view the book. Finding E-books Online, p.5
  6. 6. Clicking the link will allow you to read the book directly on your computer, as shown below. The various parts of the book viewer are explained. Contents Click “Contents” to Search this Page view skip directly to book Changes whether you see one, two, certain chapters or Allows you to or multiple pages on the screen. pages of a book. search for words and phrases that appear in the book. Page navigation Use the arrows to flip between pages Zoom of the book, or Make the type a specific text of the page into the box. book larger or smaller. Viewing area This is where your book is shown. Of course, you can read the book right on your computer. However, many books on Google Books can also be downloaded so that you can read them on another device. In the top right of the book viewing area, you'll see a few options, as shown below. Click the link that says “Download.” For this particular book, we have two options: PDF and EPUB. Some books only allow you to download them in PDF format. PDF is a very common file format that can be read on a number of different computers and gadgets. EPUB is a file specific for e-books that allows slightly more flexibility with things like changing font sizes, etc. They can be read by most e-readers and e-book software, with the exception of the Amazon Kindle. Click the “EPUB” option now. When you have the choice, EPUB is generally a better choice given its flexibility. A save dialog will open like the one shown on the next page. Finding E-books Online, p.6
  7. 7. Depending on what web browser you're using (e.g. Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.), this box will look slightly different. However, in most case, you should have the option to open the file (if you have a program on your computer that reads e-books) or save the file. If you plan to transfer the book to a different device, we recommend that you save the book, perhaps in a folder on your computer specifically for saving e-book files. Then, you'll know where to look when you want to transfer the book to your e-reader, phone, or other gadget. Internet Archive ( Another great source of e-books (and many other wonderful, freely-available things) is the Internet Archive. The Internet Archive aims to preserve a number of important, primarily public domain, works in various formats: audio, video, and text. They are also known for the Wayback Machine, an archive of web pages as they appeared in the past. Ever wondered what Google looked like back in 2000? The Wayback Machine can show you. The many things available on the Internet Archive are shown prominently on their homepage, displayed below. Texts Click here to access e-books. Like Google Books, the Internet Archive has been digitizing printed books from around the world. To access these books, click the “Texts” link near the bottom right of the page (or up in the menus near the top of the page). Finding E-books Online, p.7
  8. 8. Search box Type the subject, author, or title that you want into this box. You will go to a page that looks similar to the one above (we've cut off the rest of the page in the screenshot). From here, searching for texts is simple. There is a small search box near the top middle of the screen. Click inside this box, type the subject, author, or title you want into it, then click “Go.” Let's try a sample search now for books on beekeeping. Type “beekeeping” (no quotes) into the box. A list of results will appear. Move between the pages of results here. Sort your results by the number of others who've downloaded them, their rating by readers, or other factors. If you find a book that interests you, simply click the blue title. You'll get more information about the book, including title, author, publisher, a description, which library These options allow you to read or download the book. Finding E-books Online, p.8
  9. 9. contributed the book, and more. Scroll down the results until you find Practical Beekeeping and click its title to view it. On the left side of the page, you'll see you have various options for using the book under the “View the book” heading. Like Google Books, you can read the book directly online. Do so by clicking the “Read Online” link. You can also download the links in various formats (PDF, EPUB, etc). Click the link for the file type you'd like to download (again, we recommend EPUB). You'll see a save dialog similar to the one that opened when you downloaded a file from Google Books. You know what to do here: save the file where you want it and then keep searching Internet Archive for more great books, like we showed you! Project Gutenberg ( Project Gutenberg is one of the oldest sources of e-books on the internet. As with the Internet Archive, Project Gutenberg works with texts that are no longer in copyright. The books can be downloaded in a variety of formats (simple text files, PDFs, internet documents, or even EPUB in many cases). As with other sites, Project Gutenberg gives you an option right on their main page to search for a title or author of interest (see the search boxes on the top left). Let's try searching for something now. Click inside the author box and type “shakespeare.” In the Title Word(s) box, type “hamlet.” Then click “Go.” Finding E-books Online, p.9
  10. 10. You will get a list of results like the one shown above at left. As you can see, with a common title like Hamlet, you may get multiple results. Click on the title of the first result to open up a page showing you more information about the book (i.e. title, author, publishing date, etc.), shown above at right. As with the other websites, you can also download the files. Scroll down slightly on the page until you see the heading “Download this ebook for free.” Under this heading, you will see a (what should be now familiar) list of various file formats in which you can download the book in various formats, including PDF and our favorite, EPUB (which is listed under the “Computer- Generated Files” section). When you find the type of file you'd like to download, click the “main site” link in the “Download Links” column. You'll be prompted to open or save the file, as we've discussed earlier. Feedbooks ( Up to now, most of these websites have been focused more on searching for books on specific topics. However, Feedbooks is a bit more for the browsers among you. Are you just looking for something interesting to read but don't have anything specific in mind? Feedbooks may be a good option for you. Feedbooks includes public domain books, as with the other sites. However, it also includes original books by new authors of whom you may have never heard. Move your mouse cursor over the “Original Books” link near the top of the page. It will open the options shown at right. Click “New & Popular” now to see a list of popular books on Feedbooks. Finding E-books Online, p.10
  11. 11. Browse through public domain books or original contemporary books by moving your mouse over the links at the top of the page. As with the other websites, you can simply click the title of the book to view more information about it. A sample page on a book is shown below. To download a book, simply click the appropriate link on the right side of the page and save the file as previously described. Click one of these links to download a file of the e-book. Finding E-books Online, p.11
  12. 12. ManyBooks ( Last but certainly not least, ManyBooks is another website for those of you who like to browse. This site has several thousand free e-books, most of which are also in the public domain. However, they make it very easy to browse around and find interesting books or authors in your areas of interest. For instance, using the links on the left side of the page, click “Genres.” It will open a list of genres like the one shown at right. You can select one of these topics and look at various books that may pique your fancy, including art books, mysteries, magazines, and more. Finding E-books Online, p.12
  13. 13. For instance, try clicking the link for “Pirate Tales.” You'll see a list of titles (including covers) of various pirate stories, as shown at right. ManyBooks is designed to help you easily browse through titles on various topics to pick ones of interest. You can view titles of interest by clicking the title. Do this now by clicking the title for Blackbeard. As with other sites, clicking the title will give you more information about it (see below), including publishing information, a description, and even reader reviews. Click this arrow to get a drop-down list of different formats in which you can download the book. You can download the book in various file formats by clicking the small down arrow under the “Download” heading on the right side of the screen. Click on the file type you want (again, we recommend EPUB), then click the “Download” button below the list box. Again, you will be prompted to open or save the file, as shown before. Finding E-books Online, p.13
  14. 14. Want More? These were just a few of our favorite e-book websites. But in case you're seeking more, there are many other e-book websites out there. Here are a few for you to peruse. • Finding Free eBooks ( This blog highlights several freely available e-books from around the net! • ( Another great source of free e-books. There are several new titles by contemporary authors who want to share their books with the world. Check it out! • Smashwords ( A source of several cheap and free independently-published e-books in lots of different formats. Try this site to find something new. • Suvudu ( Fantasy and science fiction fans take note. This site gives many free e-books of the first books in lots of series, just to let you try them out. Use this to try out a new author or fantasy series. Have a few favorite sites of your own? Or maybe you have some questions about e- books. Perhaps your interest might even have been piqued and you'd like to try out an e- reader. Whatever the reason, feel free to contact us at the North Bend Public Library: 541-756-0400 or Happy reading! Last updated: April 1, 2010, (no joke) by Buzzy Nielsen. Thanks to Gina Gallo for her advice on putting together this walkthrough. Finding E-books Online, p.14