Two years ago I got myself a Nook at Barnes & Noble. I liked the simple screen that didn’t light up as well as the fact that it didn’t play movies or do anything but attempt to “be a book.” I could talk more about “Why a Nook and not a Kindle?” I could talk about the concept of what a book is: “I wrote a book,” “I published a book,” “I printed a book,”I read a book,” “I own a book.” The point of mentioning buying a Nook is more about why I bought a non-paper way to read books.
There are thousands of free books online.
Project Gutenberg alone has 44,558 ebooks available for free. Want to read Pride and Prejudice? Walden, and On The Duty Of Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau? Babylonian-Assyrian Birth-Omens and Their Cultural Significance by Morris Jastrow?
The Project Gutenberg volunteers have scanned 44,558 books (as of now) that have gone out of copyright and are freely available. Some of which are out of print. Some are required reading for classes. Wouldn’t it have been great to have been able to do a word search on every time the word “ghost” appeared in Wuthering Heights? (The answer is eleven if you count variations like “ghostly.”)
ManyBooks is another site with free eBooks. There are others. I’ll add them over time. Though I think I will go ahead and add Baen eBooks right now as they took a revolutionary step by adding some of their printed works to the online world for free. Books like Time Traders by Andre Norton. And yes, I have bought eBooks from them as a result.
Side Note: Here’s an interesting article on Baen’s Free eBook collection past and present.