✏️ How to Read Everything for Free

Ebooks sound like the ultimate freedom: any book, downloaded immediately to your device at the tap of a finger. I remember Kindles being a hot holiday gift back when I was in 8th grade (2012), but after only a few months I rarely saw anyone reading one. Sure enough, e-reader sales peaked in 2011 and have been declining ever since.1 There seem to be a few reasons why e-readers lost their popularity. Some people don't read at all,2 and perhaps those who do would rather read paper than an "e-ink display." I've personally been frustrated by my library's ebook selection, and the books that do look interesting have already been "checked out" (a silly idea when it's just a file!). Buying an ebook costs a lot, if not as much as a new paper book than definitely more than a used one.

I'd like to make the case that you should read ebooks. If you don't own an e-reader already, it's very easy to find someone to give you theirs for free. Their batteries last for weeks, and they have enough storage for countless titles. If an e-reader doesn't sound as fantastic to you than it does to me, there are a number of great ebook reader apps available for your smartphone, including the free and open-source KOReader. Ebooks are very easy to find on the internet, with many classics available for download from many sites, including Standard Ebooks, Project Gutenberg, and Internet Archive. If you know where to look, any ebook ever created is available online. There is a fantastic open-source ebook management program called Calibre that can keep your ebooks organized, convert them to different formats, sync them with ebook readers, and just about anything else. If you ever want to send a book to someone, you could do it via email. I've found a number of open source textbooks available as .epub files, and others can be converted to a format compatible with e-readers.

I enjoy long-distance hiking, and hope to spend as much of my life travelling as I can. This feels like an elegant solution to the feeling of disconnect I get when I spend so much time alone or far from a library. I'll have every book I want to read in my pocket (without the actual weight of a stack of books in my bag), I'll be able to spend more time learning, and my smartphone battery will make it to the next outlet without dying. The only thing I need to work out is how to add books to my Kindle using my smartphone. When I develop a simple enough workflow, I'll edit this with my findings. Happy reading!