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Turn pages for cheap with free e-books

Find your next read with Vox's comparison of five sites

November 29, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST

There are thousands of e-books available online. The catch is that you have to pay for most of them. But what if you’re looking for something a little more economical that doesn’t require a membership? Whether you’re a bibliophile or a sporadic reader, Vox makes it easy to find a source for free e-books that fit your reading habits.

Michael Hart, founder of Project Gutenberg, created the first e-books in 1971 when he started the project at the University of Illinois. With more than 40,000 free books, the site’s claim to fame is that it’s the first and largest collection of no-cost e-books. Many are classics such as Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or Great Expectations because the copyrights have expired, making them public domain. One of its newest features is a self-publishing tool that lets contemporary authors publish their work online.

For a quick way to fit some pleasure reading into a tight schedule, check out DailyLit. The site allows users to have snippets of books sent to their inbox or RSS feeds. You can choose the frequency of the messages. If you’re too hooked to wait, there’s a “next” button that links to the following portion. It’s a simple way to spend five minutes with a good book despite a hectic daily routine. However, it does mean that it will take quite some time to finish a book depending on the length
of the installments.

This site was specifically designed for people who have a hard time reading on computers. It lets users choose from six different color and font size combinations. But some of the color combinations are a bit outlandish. Anyone want to read an entire story written in yellow against a purple backdrop? For those with unorthodox eyesight, however, clashing colors could be the easiest way to take in a good read.

ReadPrint has thousands of titles to choose from and a social networking aspect that gets users involved with other readers through a message board feature with discussions on everything from Harry Potter to general recommendations. The lists tool helps you track the books you’ve read and the ones you want to read. Plus, there is a quote page that offers something fun to read in between books. Who knows, maybe a quote will inspire your
next selection.

Most of the reads on this website are a bit obscure so if you want to be the first person to pick up the next trending book, this might be the site to try. However, it does have a decent selection of classic books, too. Plus, there are books written in 36 different languages, including Latin for those who happen to know the dead language.

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