Free Kindle Books

Several years ago I happened to visit one of my favorite local used book stores and they had a table set up in the front of the store for a special sale – “buy a foot of books for a dollar.”  Imagine what sort of books get sold by the foot!  There were old Pulpit Commentaries and McClaren’s commentaries with the covers half off, and a fair amount of old Christian fiction.  (I am not a fan of Christian fiction to start with, but Christian fiction form the 1950’s is particularly loathsome).  I looked over the pile of books and would not have wanted to buy any of the books, even at a dollar a foot.

As I was browsing for something else on Amazon this morning, I ran across Luther’s Commentary on Galatians, free for Kindle.  I do not have a physical copy of the book, only the Logos version.  So I downloaded the book to my iPad.  This version is public domain, and Amazon states that the “book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers,” indicating that these are mostly Project Gutenberg texts.  This is the text that has been floating around the internet for some time, converted nicely to Kindle and made available for free.  I looked at a few books, the formatting looks good, which is not always the case on converted books.

Amazon is always very good about suggesting more things for me to by, so across the bottom of the page is “other customers bought.”  This amounts to many pages of other books which are free to Kindle users.  Here are a few other highlights:

Luther, Galatians, Concerning Christian Liberty, and many others from Luther’s Works.

F. G. Smith, The Revelation Explained An Exposition

G. K. Chesterton, All Things Considered, and just about everything else from Chesterton is there! Time to read The Wisdom of Father Brown.

Leo Tolstoy, The Kingdom of God Is Within You, and many other of Tolstoy’s spiritual writings.

Marcus Dods, The Expositor’s Bible: The Gospel of St John

H. G. C. Moule, Philippians

Alexander McClaren commentaries, many of which now include “real page numbers.”

Walter Rauschenbusch, The Social Principles of Jesus

James Stalker, Life of St. Paul

Poke around, see what else you can find.  It is better than a “foot of books for a buck!”

Occupy Amazon!

By now everyone has heard of the Amazon “price check” offer.  Basically, Amazon wants you to window shop at a real bookstore and check the book on their Amazon app.  If you did this, Amazon would give you a 10% discount if you ordered the book, up to $15. Obviously this was extremely controversial.  There were calls to boycott Amazon, with not a few “occupy Amazon” type protests breaking out.  I am not exactly sure how you picket Amazon’s store, but the anger was real.

The truth is that we do this sort of thing all the time.  There are many times I stop by my local bookstore and notice some new novel on the “just released” shelf at retail price.  I then go online and buy it on Amazon for 40% off.  Maybe Barnes and Noble is close in price to Amazon, but the local bookseller cannot compete on the “big sellers” like Stephen King or the latest Harry Potter wannabe.

But for most of the things I read, my local booksellers are pretty competitive with Amazon.

There is one thing that Amazon does that my local seller cannot.  I have bought enough from Amazon over the last ten years that the AI hive-mind behind Amazon does a pretty good job at guessing what I might like.  In addition, I can look through reviews of books and compare editions much easier on Amazon than the local seller.  Even the “other people who bought this also purchased” suggests are amazingly good.  There have been a few times the user-created lists have introduced me to some book or author I did not know about.

So here is my person form of protest against Amazon.  I am going to browse Amazon, read their reviews (for free) and use their tools (for free), then I am going to go to The Bookstore, Baker Books, or Schuler Books in Grand Rapids, Michigan and buy the book.  Call it a reverse price check.  Needless to say I am not going to buy the Kindle version (although I might get a used copy, in hardback of course!)

Join me in my version of the Occupy Amazon movement and buy your books locally.