I read books a lot less than I used to. Next to the speed and skimmability (don’t judge me) of online content, diving into a book feels stodgy, slow, and difficult. Plus, I love having access to content wherever I go, whether it’s on my iPod, my computer, or wherever. I do, however, miss the feeling of getting lost in a good book, and diving in deep to a story.
The best of both worlds gets combined in the crazy world of eBooks. eBooks, as I’ll define them, are different from digital versions of books, because they’re written and designed not for print, but for digital readers. That approach changes a lot, from the graphics associated with the book to how the content itself is laid out.
But instead of droning on and on about how great they are, I want to share with you a few of my favorite free eBooks, on a whole range of subjects—though mostly still in the tech realm, because the rest of the world doesn’t seem to have embraced eBooks quite as readily. Each one won’t cost you a nickel or take up tons of space on your hard drive, most are relatively short, and every one is worth a few minutes of your time and attention—plus, they’re easier to read quickly because they’re laid out better. Bonus.
Viral Copy is, at first glance, all about how to create content that goes big on the Web, and gets read by millions of people, as well as tips on turning those millions into loyal readers.
Below the surface, it’s a look at how the Web has changed journalism, copywriting, and marketing—with a lot of great insight from Brian Clark.
Seth Godin is the Godfather of eBooks—he was one of the first to do it on a large scale, and has long been a proponent of free eBooks as ways to actually induce more book sales.And, believe it or not, it worked.
Who’s There? is all about the blogosphere, the Web, and how our lives are changing as the Internet breaks down barriers and builds new ones.
Deep Secrets of Successful Blogging
This eBook rounds up 30 successful bloggers, many of whose names you’ll know, and let them write; the book is a collection of essays about creating, selling, and interacting with content. It may be for a money-making purpose for Chitika, but the information and insight is worth the mild skeeviness.
The Art of Community
This one’s sort of cheating, because it’s actually a print book as well. But The Art of Community, written by Jono Bacon, one of the most important minds behind Linux, and is all about community, what it is and why it matters now more than ever.
There’s a lot of tech in it, but it’s a book about people more than it’s a book about tech—it’s 300+ pages, but well worth the $0 you’ll pay (and much more that you don’t need to pay!).
A Brief Guide to World Domination
I love this book because he’s not trying to sell you anything or make you jump through hoops; Chris just offers small steps that, in 29 pages, might make you awesome.
279 Days to Overnight Success
Another one from Chris Guillebeau, 279 Days to Overnight Success is not only an awesome title, but a great book as well. It’s a more personal story, about how he built his site, and his career—some intense advice, some crazy advice, but mostly great advice.
His story is incredibly impressive and inspiring, and he’s remarkably frank about how he did it, and how he got to the top of his mountain.
You can’t talk tech without mentioning Cory Doctorow. If Seth Godin’s the eBook’s Godfather, Cory Doctorow’s, like, the guy who’s as cool as the Godfather. I like metaphors.
Content, Cory’s book/eBook that is available in every imaginable format (I think he’s proving a point), is a collection of his essays about “Technology, Creativity, Copyright, and the Future of the Future.” That pretty much nails it, and it’s a great read. Cory’s a brilliant writer, and makes even the most mundane (which this isn’t, mostly) interesting. Cory’s written a number of other things worth checking out, and I’ll just send you there instead of raving for five hours.
What Matters Now
My new favorite source of inspiration is What Matters Now, compiled by Seth Godin, featuring 200 words from some of the brightest, most forward-thinking and revolutionary people out there right now, on all sorts of different topics surrounding the question “what matters now?”
The answers are as varied as they are compelling, and at 200 words a pop aren’t exactly tough reading either. My personal favorite? Page 7, Jessica Hagy.
eBooks are typically more graphically organized, shorter, full of sub-headings and bold text, and make reading in the age of distraction easier than ever. Here’s hoping more people follow the lead of these eight.
What’s your favorite eBook?