Are free ebooks worth reading?

Mike Weatherford/Contributor

Well, it depends on the ebook, and where it comes from. Most of the free ebooks being offered by Baen Books range from “good” to “AWESOME” – three stars or more up to five stars. They include books by John Ringo (A Hymn Before Battle, Emerald Sea, Gust Front, There Will Be Dragons), Tom Kratman (Caliphate, A Desert Called Peace), Sharon Lee (Agent of Change, Fledgling), Sarah Hoyt (Draw One in the Dark), Michael Z. Williamson (Freehold), David Drake (The Sea Hag, Old Nathan, Redliners, Northworld Trilogy), David Weber (Oath of Swords, On Basilisk Station, The Honor of the Queen), Dave Freer (The Forlorn), Eric Flynt (1632), and Andre Norton (Star Soldiers, The Time Traders) (note: these are just the ones I’ve read, not all the free ebooks listed). These authors have made one or more of their books available for free. They are all complete books, and well worth the read.

Another source of free ebooks where a person can download something well worth spending the time reading is Feedbooks. Feedbooks has both free and full-price ebooks, so the shopper has to be careful. The good news is that they have more than 8000 titles available, just in their Science Fiction category (and over 200,000 total). The bad news is these titles range from “Very good” (Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey, Orson Scott Card), to things I haven’t been able to get past the first chapter. Of course, your taste may vary.

A third source of free ebooks is Project Gutenberg. Project Gutenberg lists books that are in the public domain. These range from Jules Verne to H.G. Wells to Andre Norton to Jesse Bone to Edgar Rice Burroughs to Randall Garrett to James H. Schmitz, and just about everyone else in between that published anything before about 1975. Project Gutenberg includes a large number of short stories, as well as complete books. Some of the earlier books and stories may seem stilted and just plain strange, but do include some very good entertainment.

No list of free ebooks would be complete without discussing free books from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. While I prefer the books from Amazon (better selection, usually), I own a Nook, so I check both. I’ve discovered a few great finds on both sites. Some of the books that were listed as free in the past are now being sold for their original price, so they’re not always free. I’ve also run into listings on Amazon that show the book as being free for people with Kindle Unlimited or Audible, but with a price for regular downloads. Always check first!

I often download free ebooks that open up a series of books to me, such as Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s “Liaden Universe” series (Fledgling and Agent of Change), Tom Kratman’s “Carrera” series (A Desert called Peace), John Ringo’s “Council Wars” series (There Will Be Dragons, Emerald Sea), David Weber’s “War God” series (Oath of Swords), and “Honor Harrington” series (On Basilisk Station, In Honor of the Queen). I’m always looking for good new writers, but don’t have the budget to spend freely. I’ve also noted that other people’s tastes are not necessarily my own. These free ebook have helped expand my list of “must read” authors greatly.

One such author that I downloaded their first book for free, than bought the others because I enjoyed the first one is E. M. Foner. The first book was “Date Night on Union Station.” I had the ebook for six months or so before I finally got around to reading it, thinking it probably would be another one that I’d end up figuratively throwing against the wall. Once I finished it, I just HAD to download the next three and read them. They’re not action novels such as Sharon Lee’s “Liaden Universe” series, or in the same vein as John Ringo’s “Posleen” series, but just a nice, comfortable, enjoyable read — the kind of books often referred to, in other genres, as “cosies”. The series (currently five books, the last not out until April) cover the life, trials, and confusion of a woman who is selected for the job of acting consul to the Earth Central consulate on Union Station, a large construct run by a species of Artificial Intelligence (the Stryx) that dominate a large segment of space. This young woman, Kelly Frank, must not only deal with distressed humans, but several dozens of alien species, a lack of direction, and constant turmoil. There’s a healthy dose of humor accompanying her trials and triumphs, her mother’s collect calls, and romantic meddling both by the Stryx and her best friend’s children. Definitely worth buying!

About Patrick Richardson

Patrick Richardson is a nearly 30-year veteran of the newspaper industry -- until {GIANT NEWSPAPER CONGLOMERATE} decided to save his salary. He has covered everything from local news to breaking national stories for such outlets as PJMedia.com and The Daily Caller.

5 comments on “Are free ebooks worth reading?

  1. I had the ebook for six months or so before I finally got around to reading it, thinking it probably would be another one that I’d end up figuratively throwing against the wall.

    Glad I’m not the only person who does this.

    I’ve got to give kudos to whoever did the covers for ‘date night,’– the “same picture, different light color” trick is brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve picked up quite a few free eBooks over the years from B&N, GooglePlay, Phoenix Pick and Baen. Ringo’s Posleen series blew me away, as did Eric Flint’s 1632 series. I also very much enjoyed Weber’s Honor Harrington series. I’ve also read some drek (which doesn’t get finished), mostly short stories, as well as some intermediate fare. One of the pleasant surprises was Debbie Viguie’s Psalm 23 Mysteries, it kind of reminded me of Kemelman’s Rabbi Mysteries.


  3. Pat Patterson is doing his best to review every free book he can get his hands on. And that includes stuff he gets through Kindle Unlimited. He’s becoming a great writer.


  4. Reblogged this on The Arts Mechanical and commented:
    Free Books. What’s to lose. Except the Baen ones. Watch out for those. The late Jim Baen said that free books were like crack. They got you hooked. Jim was an unsung marketing genius.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Baen Free Library was my re-entry into SF after years via a recommendation of Fallen Angels. (No longer free, alas) And indeed, they are like healthy crack.


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