Sunday, January 24, 2016

Free books on the Internet – two rather oddball services

For some months now I have been subscribed to a couple of mailing lists that puzzle me even as I take advantage of them. One of them is Forgotten Books, which every day offers an old book that might well be of interest to readers today. Other books besides the daily selection are available at a price, or with advertising interpolated into the text. The selection of books is so odd though that I wonder about the selection sometimes. Is a book by Friedrich Hegel really a forgotten book? How about a book 100 years or so old on theories of melancholy? On the other hand a hundred-year-old book on techniques for building furniture might well be still valid for the people who want to know some of the basics of that skill.

Then there's BookBub. Every day the service sends you to three or four links to fiction, which links allow you to order the books as e-books for between five dollars and nothing. You might suspect that these are no hope books but sometimes you have a book by Isabella Allende, for instance. Using the service you can get a lot of books for absolutely nothing.

What are the limitations of this service? There are certainly days when you can despair of the taste of the Anglophone reading public based on what is offered to you here. How many detective series does one world need? How many fantasies about people growing up with magical powers, which they used to tame dragons or save the kingdom? How many imitations of the Hunger Games? The service is obviously meant to suck you in to buy the next book in the detective series or maybe the previous ones, or other books by the same author who wrote that Dragon fantasy you liked so much.

Still, as advertising for books goes, it does offer you something. Whether does much for the authors so advertised I have to wonder.

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