TIME Gadgets

Here’s How To Find Cheap and Free eBooks

ereader
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There's a wide range of resources depending on which device you own

When it’s cold or rainy outside, there’s nothing like curling up with a good ebook. But at prices averaging $7.00 a pop, a steady supply of ebooks can get real expensive real quick.

The good news: There are plenty of places to find great ebooks for free or at a significant discount. Here are our favorite places to go for reading on the cheap.

Your Local Library

The best place to start for free books is your local library, and the same holds true for ebooks. The vast majority of libraries now offer popular ebook titles to borrow, just like hardcovers and paperbacks. To find out which books are available near you, either visit your library in person or search online using the OverDrive website at overdrive.com.

Project Gutenberg

Free is hands down my favorite price for books, and few places offer more free books without subscription or commitment than Project Gutenberg. The non-profit is full of approximate 46,000 public domain titles from authors like William Shakespeare, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Jane Austin and F. Scott Fitzgerald. If you’ve ever wanted to check out a classic novel, Project Gutenberg (gutenberg.org) is a great place to start.

Kindle Lending Library

If you’re a member of the $99-per-year Amazon Prime premium service, then you already have access to the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. The service now contains over 500,000 e-books, including the entire Harry Potter series and a number of other New York Times best sellers. They’re not all top-tier reads, but they are free for Kindle owners to download and try.

Free eBooks for Kindle, Kobo and Nook

Amazon, Kobo and Barnes and Noble have selections of free ebooks designed to whet your appetite for more. You’ll find new authors, first titles in a series and much more. All you need is the free Kobo, Kindle or Nook app.

Kindle, Kobo and Nook Deals

Like most major bookstores, online book stores have a sale section too. Before you pay full price for an e-book, check out Amazon’s Kindle Daily Deals, Nook Books Under $5 and Kobo Great Readers Under $4.99, where you can find titles for teens and adults priced between $.99 and $4.99. There’s a little bit of everything to discover, from historical biographies to mystery novels to light romance fare. And if you don’t like what’s currently available, check back – the deals are updated every day.

Oyster, Scribd and Kindle Unlimited eBook Subscription Services

If you’re the type of person who craves new reads rather than re-reading old favorites – or if you just blaze through a ton of books each month – then you’re a perfect candidate for Oyster, Scribd or Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited. These relatively new subscription services are akin to a Netflix for books.

Oyster has more than 1 million titles, Kindle Unlimited has more than 700,000 titles and Scribd has more than 500,000 titles from smaller and top-tier publishers like HarperCollins, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster. Plus, Scribd and Kindle Unlimited offer audiobooks, in addition to ebooks. In short: Even the pickiest readers are guaranteed to find something worth their time.

New members get a free month of service on all services, allowing you to get sense of the libraries without spending a dime. After the free trial, Kindle Unlimited costs $9.99 per month, Oyster costs $9.95 per month, and Scribd is $8.99.

This article originally appeared on Techlicious.

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Read next: This Test Will Tell You How Fast You Read Compared to the Rest of the U.S.

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TIME Books

Mockingbird Author ‘Hurt and Humiliated’ That People Think She Was Duped

Bush Awards Presidential Medal of Freedom
Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images Pulitzer Prize winner and "To Kill A Mockingbird" author Harper Lee smiles before receiving the 2007 Presidential Medal of Freedom

Some in the literary world question if the low-profile author was duped into publishing the 'Go Set a Watchman'

The lawyer who represents beloved author Harper Lee said that the 88-year-old author is “extremely hurt and humiliated” by suggestions that she was tricked into publishing the sequel of To Kill a Mockingbird

While many rejoiced last week’s news that Go Set a Watchman was discovered and would be released in July, others questioned whether the notoriously low-profile Pulitzer Prize winner was actually infirm and coerced into its publication, the New York Times reports.

“She is a very strong, independent and wise woman who should be enjoying the discovery of her long lost novel,” Lee’s lawyer Tonja B. Carter said. “Instead, she is having to defend her own credibility and decision making.”

Lee said Wednesday that she’s “alive and kicking and happy as hell with the reactions to ‘Watchman.'”

[NYT]

TIME Books

Harper Lee’s New Novel Now Apparently Has a Cover

Bush Awards Presidential Medal of Freedom
Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images Pulitzer Prize winner and To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee smiles before receiving the 2007 Presidential Medal of Freedom in the East Room of the White House, in Washington, on Nov. 5, 2007

Images are cropping up on Amazon and social media

Harper Lee’s much anticipated novel Go Set a Watchman, a sequel to Lee’s perennial classic To Kill a Mockingbird, may have found a cover.

The unconfirmed cover design is without illustrations or photographs, and has yet to emerge on the website of HarperCollins Publishers, the North American publisher of Lee’s novel, but it has materialized on the British publisher’s site and Amazon.com.

It’s simple and stark, but the cover has fans abuzz on social media:

Lee completed Go Set a Watchman in the 1950s, and set the plot 20 years after the ending of Mockingbird, placing Scout in New York on a homeward trip to see her father Atticus in Maycomb County, Alabama.

TIME Books

J.K. Rowling Just Answered Four Revealing Harry Potter Questions

Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling poses
AFP—AFP/Getty Images Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling during the launch of Pottermore in central London on June 23, 2011.

Finally we learn what happened to Fluffy

The Boy Who Lived got his own holiday in the UK on Thursday as fans gathered for Harry Potter Book Night. After the event, which was created by Bloomsbury, the publishing house behind the beloved series, J.K. Rowling took to Twitter to thank fans.

But she also surprised some lucky Tweeters by answering their burning questions about the series. And in typical Rowling fashion, she didn’t hold back on the snark, either.

The first question was about why the Horcrux inside of Harry was not destroyed when he was bit by a basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets. To Potterheads, the answer is pretty obvious, which Rowling seemed to think as well.

Rowling also shared what happened to Fluffy, the three-headed dog who guards the Sorcerer’s Stone in the first book.

She later revealed why 12 Grimmauld Place, headquarters for The Order of the Phoenix, was in the middle of a Muggle neighborhood.

And fans who sought loopholes in the science of Horcruxes were treated to answers.

When Rowling responds on Twitter, she adds a character in front of the user’s handle, making sure each Tweet is seen by her entire following. The author has been quite active on social media and her site Pottermore in the last year, surprising fans with new stories and information about the future of her favorite characters. She signed off on Friday by saying she didn’t have time for more than a few HP answers. Maybe if we all drink Felix Felicis she’ll be back to answer more.

Read Next: Everything J.K. Rowling Revealed About Harry Potter in 2014

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TIME Books

Teens Crave Young Adult Books on Really Dark Topics (and That’s OK)

Gayle Forman
Dennis Kleiman—© Stomping Ground Photo 2014 Gayle Forman

Gayle Forman is the award-winning New York Times best-selling author of the novels: If I Stay, Where She Went and the Just One Day series. Her latest 'dark' book, I Was Here, follows a young woman in the aftermath of her best friend's suicide.

It's time to stop worrying that great YA novels about risky behavior or even death will be a bad influence on kids

When I was 12 years old, I became an avid reader, my bookshelves stuffed with paperbacks like Jackie Collins’ Hollywood Wives, Sidney Sheldon’s The Other Side of Midnight and Harold Robbins’ Dreams Die First. Much as I loved reading about groupies and spies and Hollywood wives, and drug addicts and murderers, I was not one of them. I hadn’t even French kissed. Though some of the girls at my school were already sexually experienced, in spite of my racy reading, I was not. I wasn’t much into boys, at least not ones who existed off the page of a juicy book.

I think about teen-reader me a lot when I hear about adults bemoaning the dark material in Young Adult books. (Interestingly, I rarely meet these folks; only read about them.) Because the concerns seem partially predicated on this idea that you become what you read. By that logic, I would’ve become a cocaine-snorting groupie years ago, or a lunatic or a murderous Russian. Because by 10th grade, it was Vonnegut and Dostoyevsky I was obsessed with. Partly because by this time, I’d become a wee bit pretentious. But partly because the kinds of books I would’ve loved to read weren’t being written yet.

The other concern with dark YA seems based on a worry that these intense stories—which sometimes deal with issues like self-harm and addiction and abuse and even death—could irrevocably damage fragile minds.

Huh.

I’m never all that sure what makes a book “dark” in the first place. It seems to vary with seasons, or the trends. Are dark books the ones that allegorically explore serious subject matter, like warfare (The Hunger Games) or the human capacity for destruction (Grasshopper Jungle)? Or at they the ones that reflect our actual world, including the capacity for human cruelty and kindness (The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian) or the messy stuff of human mortality (The Fault In Our Stars)?

Because if those books are dark, and that’s a problem, I’m confused. Are these not the same subjects young people are encouraged to engage in at school, by reading the newspaper, or canonical texts like The Iliad (warfare) or Macbeth (the capacity for self destruction) or To Kill A Mockingbird (kindness and cruelty) or A Farwell to Arms, all Emily Dickinson poetry (that messy morality business)?

But for a moment, let’s put the question of whether books are dark aside. For a moment, let’s just say that some YA is dark. And….so what?

Literature swims in the murkier waters of the human condition. Conflict and matters of life and death, of freedom and oppression—it is the business of books to explore these themes, and the business of teenagers, too.

New brain mapping research suggests that adolescence is a time when teens are capable of engaging deeply with material, on both an intellectual level as well as an emotional one. Some research suggests that during adolescence, the parts of the brain that processes emotion are even more online with teens than with adults, (something that will come as absolutely no surprise to any parent of a teenager). So, developmentally, teens are hungry for more provocative grist while emotionally they’re thirsty for the catharsis these books offer. Of course teens are drawn to darker, meatier fare. The only surprise about this is that it’s a surprise.

There may be another reason for the appeal. Adolescence is a time when teens are statistically more likely to come into harm’s way, and thus more likely to witness harm among their peers. According to the National Institutes for Mental Health, teens between 15 and 19 are about six times more likely to die by injury than people ages 10 to 14. Is it any wonder that they want books to help process what they’re experiencing around them, often for the first time?

That increased death rate, however, is a chilling statistic, particularly if you’re a parent. Seen through that lens—the fear of something terrible befalling a child—the wariness about dark YA begins to make more sense. Because if your child doesn’t read about death, about abuse, about rape, about suicide, then these terrible things won’t happen to him or her. 'I Was Here' by Gayle Forman

But that is a form of magical thinking, and no matter how well intentioned, it’s wrong. Because books don’t create behaviors. It’s possible they reinforce existing behaviors, but those behaviors are already present, not created by a novel. A novel won’t turn a bookish drama geek into a promiscuous drug abuser any more than it will turn a promiscuous drug abuser into a bookish drama geek, unless the seeds of those transformations were already planted.

What books can do, however, is reflect an experience and show a way out of difficult, isolating times. It’s why Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak has become such a touchstone, giving young women a voice to speak about sexual abuse, or Sherman Alexie’s Part-Time Indian has been a life raft for young people who can’t see their way out of existences straightjacketed by addiction and deprivation. I don’t believe that books, YA or otherwise, have the power to save lives. That’s a bit too grandiose for my thinking, but seeing your experience, your sometimes difficult experiences, reflected can be a powerful incentive to reach out and get the help that could indeed save a life.

I suspect that most teens who read and love “dark” YA have little in common with the struggling characters they relate to. Whenever I ask teenagers why they’re drawn to books like my novel If I Stay—in which the main character loses her family in a car accident—they overwhelmingly say the appeal is seeing an ordinary teen forced into an extraordinary circumstance. Reading about everyday fictional teens rising to the occasion (and, spoiler alert, in YA books they almost always do) allows actual teens to imagine themselves doing the same, within the lower-stakes conflicts and contexts of their own lives. This is empowering, and hopeful, words that I would use to describe many YA books. Even the dark ones. Especially the dark ones. These “dark” books may seem to be about death, about illness, about pain, but really they are about life. The kids get that, even if the adults sometimes, do not.

Some of my favorite “dark” YA books:

(Gayle Forman’s best-selling novel If I Stay was made into a motion picture in 2014. Her latest novel, I Was Here was published in January 2015. )

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Books

Then and Now: Two Interviews With Fifty Shades of Grey Author E.L. James

"Fame is not something I sought," she says

When Erika Leonard first came up with the idea that became Fifty Shades of Grey, she called herself Snow Queen Ice Dragon — or SQID, for short — and wrote on a site for Twilight fans. Her erotic tales involving the characters Bella Thorne and Edward Cullen proved so popular she was persuaded to change some names and amass them into an e-book, produced by a teensy publisher in suburban Australia and written under the name E.L. James.

Kindles were a relatively new thing in 2011 and, as Leonard tells it, a group of women in Long Island, New York, found the e-books and began to tell their friends — of which there were many. As the book’s popularity grew, a group invited Leonard to come to a a reading. Photojournalist Gillian Laub was there for the occasion and grabbed an interview with the reclusive author.

Fast forward a few years, and Leonard is now a multimillionaire author and producer of the movie version of Fifty Shades, out Feb. 13. While media reports suggest that she hasn’t let wealth and fame change her too much, she doesn’t really need to give interviews. But she did consent to answer some (not all) of our questions via email.

TIME: What scene in the movie were you most worried about translating to screen and why?
Erika Leonard:
I was most worried about the scenes in the red room. I wanted them to be tasteful and erotic, and that was a journey, but we got there in the end.

Do you have favorite scene?
The glider scene and the post-graduation bar scene. For me those scenes really capture the spirit of the book.

What made you decide to become a producer?
Because I could. (Christian Grey would appreciate that comment.) I didn’t want to take the money and run — I wanted the movie to be one the readership would love.

What have you enjoyed most about the process of filming?
I enjoyed breaking down the book with the screenwriter Kelly Marcel and deciding what should and should not be in the movie. That was fun — hard work, but fun.

Your life must have changed so much in the last three years. Do you have any reflections on fame?
Fame is not something I sought, and happily I’m still not that famous — I can still roam the streets anonymously, at home and in the States, and I love that. But I have had some amazing experiences, and for that I’m incredibly grateful to all the people who bought and loved the books.

Is there anything you would differently if you wrote the books again?
Yes. Quite a few things, in fact — but the books seem to be so well loved by so many I’ve let all that go…

Do you have plans to write more books?
Yes, I do. But like most authors I’d rather do it than talk about it.

These books are an exploration of a fantasy. Have you been surprised by how much they’ve resonated?
Surprised doesn’t quite cover it. I get the most extraordinary, heart wrenching emails from readers who have been deeply touched by the books. I’m honored that so many people have shared their moving stories and their love of the books with me.

TIME

E.L. James Had Final Say on the Fifty Shades Movie Ending

Fifty Shades of Gray
Chuck Zlotnick—Universal Pictures Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan star in Fifty Shades of Grey

The last word was a matter of debate between the book's author and the director

When Fifty Shades of Grey opens in theaters next week, E.L. James will have the last word — and as it turns out, that word was quite a matter of debate between the author of the books and the movie’s director, Sam Taylor-Johnson.

James was given an unusual level of control over the movie adaptation when she sold her book rights to Universal, according to The Hollywood Reporter. So when she was unhappy with the movie’s ending as imagined by Taylor-Johnson, she demanded that one single word — albeit an important one — be changed.

Spoiler alert: the debate came down to whether the protagonist, Anastasia Steele, would ask her lover, Christian Grey, to cease a consensual beating by saying “stop,” or using their safe word, “red.” James favored the former, Taylor-Johnson the latter. While Universal did not comment to The Hollywood Reporter, fans can see for themselves whether the true-to-the-novel ending works on Feb. 14.

[The Hollywood Reporter]

TIME movies

Documentary Questions Lewis Carroll’s Relationship With ‘Alice’ Inspiration

Alice Liddell  -   taken by Lewis Carroll
Lebrecht Authors / Getty Images A photograph of Alice Liddell taken by Lewis Carroll in 1858

But is there any scholarly evidence of Carroll’s perceived pedophilia?

History Today logoThis post is in partnership with History Today. The article below was originally published at HistoryToday.com.

The screening last week of a new BBC documentary, The Secret World of Lewis Carroll, attracted eye-catching headlines: ‘The Victorian Jimmy Savile’ and ‘repressed paedophile’ being among the more dramatic examples.

Presented by journalist Martha Kearney and timed to mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the documentary explored the controversy surrounding Carroll’s friendship with children and his obsession with photography.

The question that has dogged Carroll’s more recent biographers is one mired in Victorian sensuality and sexuality. Are the photographs he took of young girls simply, as he maintained, an exploration of innocence? Or is there a darker, more dangerous motivation behind them?

The programme makers have a clear agenda: to make their viewer aware of the possible subtext behind Carroll’s work and attempt to provide the evidence for it. Interestingly, almost all the experts interviewed either deny or were noncommittal on their interpretation of the evidence for Carroll’s supposed sexual deviance. The only person who seemed in agreement with the idea of Carroll’s paedophilia was the author, Will Self, who, in surprising contrast, has written of his own anger at the perceived culture of paedophile hysteria, which caused him to be questioned by police while out for a country walk with his son.

The idea that the third most quoted literary work in the world, behind only Shakespeare and the Bible, was authored by a man harbouring a dangerous intent towards his young friends is obviously an attractive prospect for television. But, in a world where history is presented as popular culture, just how accurate do programme makers need to be?

Martha Kearney makes it clear that she does not want to believe the rumours surrounding Carroll and the young Liddell girls. We are told not to judge the Victorians by the morals of today; that the age of consent was only 12; that there was a Victorian photographic school that focused on the depiction of nude children. But this is all done with a firmly persuasive hand, impressing on you that while we may not be able to prove Carroll definitely was a paedophile, we also can’t definitely prove that he wasn’t either – and this question hangs over the entire programme, constantly returned to by expert and fan alike.

So where were the revisionist historians? The Karoline Leaches, The Jenny Woolfs? Both authors have, in new studies into the ‘Carroll Myth’, exposed our reliance on the biographers of the 1930s who, in an attempt to play down Carroll’s relationship with young women, reduced the age of his young friends to such a degree that their – and his – innocence would supposedly be assured. They did not expect, it seems, that, to modern biographers, this merely served to further enflame the rumours surrounding Carroll.

To help their case, the producers ignored specific contextual information. There was no mention that Carroll became friendly with the Liddells through their son, Henry, rather than the three girls, or that in 1857, six years before the supposed break with the Liddells that anti-Carrollians take to be a sign of his inappropriate behaviour, Carroll recorded in his diary that his friendship with the children had resulted in rumours of a supposed attachment to their governess, Miss Prickett. He is mortified and records in his diary that he has resolved not to see the children again.

There was no mention either of his donations to charities that rescued and aided children who had been sexually exploited. Although this new research has only been recently revealed by Jenny Woolf’s 2011 book, The Mystery of Lewis Carroll, it was well known to the programme’s consultant, Professor Robert Douglas-Fairhurst.

The sudden shoe-horning in of a photograph held in a French archive at the very end of the programme smacks a little of desperation, a desire to prove unequivocally that Carroll’s relationship with at least one of the Liddell girls was not wholly innocent. As the interviewed experts were not invited to comment on it, the programme ends with the uncomfortable feeling that no matter what we may want to believe, Carroll’s world was not the innocent childlike wonderland he would want us to imagine. However, the programme makers have again left out a key piece of information. Carroll stayed in contact with the Liddell girls for many years, even sending their mother a heartfelt inscription to the 1886 edition of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground which read: ‘To Her, whose children’s smiles fed the narrator’s fancy and were his rich reward: from the Author. Xmas.’ The crushing ‘break’ seems to have little to no lasting effect.

Popular culture is dangerously good at historical myth making. If recent research is to be believed, Carroll’s perceived paedophilia seems to have little scholarly evidence. Although this documentary raises important questions about Carroll and Victorian ideas of innocence, childhood and sexuality, it does so on scant evidence and fails to fully engage with the record of Carroll’s own diaries and the personal testimonies of those around him.

Fern Riddell is a contributing editor at History Today.

TIME movies

Charlie Hunnam Replaces Benedict Cumberbatch in The Lost City of Z

FX's "Sons Of Anarchy" Premiere
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin—FilmMagic Actor Charlie Hunnam arrives at FX's 'Sons Of Anarchy' premiere at TCL Chinese Theatre on September 6, 2014 in Hollywood, California.

The Brad Pitt-produced film gets a new leading man

Benedict Cumberbatch’s busy schedule was bound to catch up with him. The beloved Brit has dropped out of the highly-anticipated film adaptation of The Lost City of Z so that he can dedicate the proper amount of time to his own Marvel franchise as Doctor Strange.

Cumberbatch is the second actor to drop out of the role of Amazon explorer Colonel Percy Fawcett. Brad Pitt also stepped out of the role, though Pitt is still producing the film.

Charlie Hunnam, best known for Sons of Anarchy and turning down Fifty Shades of Grey, will replace Cumberbatch as Fawcett, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Sienna Miller will play Fawcett’s wife and Robert Pattinson his son and fellow traveler (though the two are only six years of age apart in real life).

In the New York Times bestseller Lost City of Z, New Yorker writer David Grann retraces the steps of real-life British explorer Percy Fawcett, who ventured into the Amazon in 1925 to find an ancient civilization but never returned. Grann himself trekked the Amazon in an attempt to find any trace of the doomed explorer.

[THR]

TIME Companies

Amazon’s Kindle Convert Can Turn Your Books Into E-Books

Ditch the paper

Amazon has created a new tool that allows readers to turn their physical books into e-books, as the online retailer grows its digital reading options.

Kindle Convert, an application for Windows, turns print books into digital versions that work on Amazon’s Kindle software, TechCrunch reports. The program costs $19 and requires users to scan the pages of physical book at a computer scanner. The hardware can help Kindle users convert out-of-print and rare books into digital form, with the goal of preserving them and making them more accessible. Converted books can be viewed in adjustable font and employ dictionary lookup and Whispersync.

Amazon has been pushing its Kindle platform with an ever-increasing array of digital reading platforms, including an e-book library, self-publishing for textbooks and books, and free access to the Washington Post.

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