By Joanna Cabot
From Part 1: I love DRM-free books! I know that for most people, DRM is an issue they might not think about often; if their books work, they’re happy. But for many more experienced e-book users, it’s an issue to care about. Unless, that is, you buy and read books that are DRM-free.
The books referenced and linked to below can be kept forever, converted using free software such as Calibre, and read on any device you might own. But where to get them? Here are some of my favorite sources:
This is the Amazon of self-published books. Some genres are better represented than others, and quality can vary, but it’s a polished-looking ecosystem. You can view online (or download for later) generous samples, and read reviews and comments by other users.
For authors, it’s a one-stop shop; if you format your work correctly, Smashwords can get it into the Kobo, Kindle, Sony and Nook stores for you. There is also a growing sub-group of authors publishing via this platform whose books started their life with mainstream publishers and are being re-released by their authors, who have gotten back the rights.
Many free books are available, as well as for-purchase titles. Once you buy, you can re-download, in any format you choose, any time you need a fresh copy.
Five to get you started:
♦ Soul Identity by Dennis Batchelder (free): A computer hacker is asked to investigate a mysterious group that promises to transfer your wealth to your next life by tracking your soul into its next incarnation. A great suspense read.
♦ Alien Murders by Stephen Goldin ($2.99): Three sci-fi stories featuring a ‘literary broker’ who travels to alien worlds via virtual reality, and represents Earth’s cultural property to alien buyers.
♦ Deadly Gamble by Connie Shelton ($0.99): The first in a series of mystery novels featuring Charlie Parker, an accountant-turned-detective.
♦ Radium Halos by Shelley Stout ($2.99): An excellent historical novel based on the true events of the Radium Girls, female factory workers who contracted radiation poisoning in the 1920s from painting luminous watch and clock dials with radium paint.
♦ Still Life with Murder by Patricia Ryan (free): The first in Patricia Ryan’s historical mystery series featuring Nell Sweeney. Originally published by Berkeley Books.
Fictionwise was once the e-book destination. Their sale to Barnes & Noble, followed soon after by the agency pricing fiasco, left them a shell of their former self. But they did—and still do—offer a good selection of DRM-free e-books. (Look for the word ‘multiformat’ when you’re browsing, to tip you off.) You can also select a genre and then use a drop down to filter your choices to only this type of book.
One drawback: Sampling is primitive, and often not available, and you’ll need to look elsewhere for reviews. But if you know what you’re looking for, you can get some good deals here. I won’t list prices for the following titles; if you’re a club member and wait for a coupon code, you can do much better than the list price.
Five good ones:
♦ Masters of Noir: Volume One by Ed McBain: The first in a series, edited by crime great Ed McBain and others, collecting classics from the crime noir genre into one omnibus volume.
♦ 3rd World Products: Book 1 by Ed Howdershelt: A fun and clever little sci-fi tale about alien first contact with Earth. They see our planet as a business opportunity! Try book one, and if you like it, go to Howdershelt’s website to get the rest of them in a much cheaper bundle.
♦ Fellowship of Fear by Aaron Elkins: The first in a well-regarded series featuring an archaeologist detective.
♦ Rx for Murder by Renee Horowitz: Another creative take on the detective genre, this cozy read features a pharmacist sleuth.
♦ Dell Fiction Magazines: Asimov’s, Ellery Queen and other Dell magazines, both current issues and a few months’ worth of past issues. These don’t expire, either. They’re treated like an e-book, and once you have one, it stays in your shelf.
5. AUTHOR WEBSITES
If you find an author you like and his or her work is DRM-free, chances are they own the rights to the work, and control their own collections. This means it’s highly likely the author has a website, where you can frequently get series books in a bundle at a significant discount.
Some to try:
♦ Cory Doctorow: Doctorow gives away the downloads to all his books for free. Most of them have short ads at the beginning; you can find links on his website to vendors for purchasing a clean copy, or you can purchase a print copy to donate to a school or library.
♦ Simon Haynes: This author writes the popular comedic space opera ‘Hal Spacejock.’ He is self-pubbing his new Hal Jr. series, and you can buy the first four volumes of the classic series in a bundle for $9.99.
♦ Diane Duane: This author of the children’s series So You Want to be a Wizard sells both the original published version and a new updated version which is only available at her site.
♦ J.A. Konrath: He writes detective novels, suspense novels and blogs that are revered by aspiring authors. You can get autographed or inscribed print books, as well as e-books—including a bundle of every book he sells, for $43.99.
♦ Blake Crouch: A suspense writer and sometime-collaborator with Konrath. Alas, no bundles, but all the books are there with links to vendors for purchasing, and bonus features such as reviews and excerpts.
So, is that enough to get you all started? Happy reading!