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No e-book reader? No problem!


I'm a little late to the e-book reader phenomenon. Not late to e-books per se; I have been using the Kindle app on my iPhone since it became available a year and a half ago.

And having jumped on the iPad bandwagon when it came out last spring, I still wasn't in a big rush to acquire an e-book reader -- the Kindle app on the iPad more than made up for the shortcomings of reading an e-book on a phone screen.

Then Amazon came out with the Kindle 3 and its price point of $139. While that's certainly not inexpensive, by now, I had acquired a number of Kindle books, and the idea of moving to the newer, smaller technology was appealing (and especially the e-ink technology which makes for text nearly as clear as paper). So since August, I've been a happy Kindle 3 owner. It fits in my purse and now I always have something to read when I wind up waiting at the dentist's office or the car dealer.

If you've been considering an e-book reader, here's a good review from CNET comparing the popular brands. But if you're not ready to plunk down cold cash, you can still take advantage of e-books if you have a desktop or laptop computer.

Free e-books for PCs & Macs

All of the major e-book providers have free e-book apps that work on PCs and Macs. And as I found out, even if you have an e-book reader, being able to read your books on your computer at home or at work is 1) convenient and 2) sometimes even better than with a reader.


For example, most apps allows you to easily highlight selections of a text for referring back to later. Sure, this works on e-readers, but I find it much easier to do with on my PC or Mac. And the computer-based e-readers allow you to re-size text, change contrast and so on to make the text as legible as possible.

Getting Started

Reading e-books on your computer is as simple as 1-2-3:

  1. First, you'll need to download an app for your PC or Mac.
  2. Next, you'll need to register an account to keep track of your e-books. If you already have an account with one of these, you're already set!
  3. Finally, choose a book to try out the app and see if it works for you. All of the e-book providers have large collections of free e-books so that you can try before you buy -- no credit card required!

Here are links for apps and free e-books from the popular publishers, as well as help links if you get stuck:


Apps Books Help
Amazon Kindle free e-books PC Mac
Barnes & Noble Nook free e-books Help
Borders free e-books Help
Google free e-books Help

Note: Google's e-reader is browser-based, no download required.

Now that I have the Kindle app on both my PC at work and my Mac at home, I think I'll make even more use of e-books. I'm the type who used to make marks in the margins and dog-ear the pages, so being able to make notes electronically is going to work great! And with resources like Project Gutenberg -- and its 33,000 free e-books -- I know I'll have plenty of reading material.

Do you have an e-book tip? If so, please share it in the comments below or tweet me at @BethAARP. Happy e-reading!

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