Okay, so they are e-books, but they are from a real publisher by well established authors and they really are free. A while back(1999) writer Eric Flint and his publisher Jim Bean wanted to see if making books available free of charge would encourage or discourage the sale of physical books and as a result the Baen Free Library was created. They made a large number of books by their most popular authors freely available for download in DRM free epub and .mobi formats. Turns out that they accidentally stumbled on the same formula drug pushers have been using forever. Give someone something they like for free, and they will happily pay for more. Sure as hell worked with me.
Some of my favorites, in no particular order
- On Basilisk Station by David Webber – The first book in the Honor Harrington series, a military Science Fiction series, introduces us to Honor on her first command after being promoted to Captain. This book got me hooked so hard I bought every other one in the series
- Oath of Swords by David Webber – Instead of SciFi, this time Mr. Webber spins a high fantasy tale about the first Hradrani paladin of Tomanāk. Not as many books in this series as Honor Harrington, but wonderful if you prefer Lord of the Rings to Star Wars and enjoy stories about a man doing what is right in the face of prejudice and racism
- 1632 by Eric Flint – This is… I guess I’d classify it as alternate history. The town of Grantville, West Virginia is transported (yes the WHOLE town, buildings and all) back in time to the year 1632… and dropped in northern Germany. Great characters and a lot of fun seeing how people deal with being trapped in the past and how their neighbors deal with them. The best part about this series is that Mr. Flint made it an open world, so that other authors could write books and short stories using the same characters, and anyone writing after would have to take into account what previously been written by others. Think of it like an MMO in written form. It’s an amazing series, but I’ve lost count of how many books are in it now.
- Earthweb by Marc Stiegler – The main story of earth being attacked every five years by a giant alien deathstar is cool, but secondary to some of the really interesting concepts Mr. Stiegler puts in the book. Ideas like peristent online reputations (think e-bay ratings for everything you do online) a stock market like economy for ideas, hiring your own police the same way you pay for insurance and my favorite, being able to charge people for sending you e-mail.
- There Will be Dragons by John Ringo – Imagine a fantasy realm that (d)evolved from far future SciFi tech. That’s the premise behind the Council Wars series. Political infighting causes the technology that the world runs on to stop working and forces everyone back to iron age tech. Renfair actors and Luddites to the rescue!
Since 2011 or so they stopped putting full novels in the free library, but instead have made a series of short story collections available, however… The way I found out about the library in the first place is that the copy of The Honor Of The Queen I bought contained a CD with even MORE books on it. Not just On Basilisk Station, but something like the first eight books in the Honorverse series, as well as a lot of others like The Shadow of the Lion, the first in a series by Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint and Dave Freer. It takes place in Venice in the 1530s and deals with magic and demons and knights. While not directly available in Baens library anymore, the CDs have all been collected here, and are available for download completely free and legal.I’m checking spellings and dates on wikipedia and just noticed I don’t have the most recent book in the War God series…