I enjoy reading both non-fiction and fiction paper-based books, but ebooks continue to “grow” on me because of their accessibility, portability, and convenience. Today during my Tuesday morning men’s group meeting, I learned about the book “Natural Theology” by William Paley which was published in the 1700s. I knew it had to be in the public domain since it was so old, and figured I could download it for free from Project Gutenberg. (Project Gutenberg now has over 33,000 public domain ebooks available for free download!) My initial search for it, however, brought up a commercial version for sale on Amazon.com for a little over $7.00. Interestingly, a paperback version is also for sale on Amazon for $25. In addition, a FREE Kindle version of the same book is available from Amazon under the title, “Evidence of Christianity.” So many different versions and prices!

Public Domain Book for sale on Amazon.com

It is perfectly legal for anyone to sell a copy of a public domain book, either by itself or as part of an anthology. With works like this, however, it’s a good idea to search for other sources. Sure enough, I found a free copy of this book in the “Ebook and Texts Archive” section of the Internet Archive, as part of the collection maintained by Princeton Theological Seminary.

Free Kindle eBook Version Available

In the past, I’ve purchased or downloaded all the books I’ve read on my Kindle for iPad application directly from Amazon.com. (See my 11 Jan 2011 post, “Free Project Gutenberg eBooks Download Directly to Kindle for iPad,” for more information about downloading SOME of the free ebooks from Project Gutenberg which are currently indexed by Amazon.) In this case, however, I needed to download an ebook from a site OTHER than Amazon.com. I was curious to figure out how to do this, AND to learn if books I DON’T download from Amazon will still “sync” across my different Kindle applications. (They don’t… read on!)

The easiest way to open a Kindle version of a free ebook on an iPad (which is in .mobi or “Mobipocket” format) is to directly open the link in the iPad’s Safari web browser.

Open the Kindle version of a free eBook on the iPad

After clicking on the link to the .mobi version, you should be prompted to open the file in Kindle for iPad as long as you already have the application installed.

Open in Kindle for iPad

The book should open immediately in the Kindle iOS app, and be available in your iPad’s “HOME” menu as well.

Downloaded book available to read on Kindle for iPad

Unfortunately, ebooks you download directly to your iPad this way from websites OTHER THAN Amazon.com will NOT synchronize across the different devices you use to read Kindle ebooks. This is a major benefit of downloading your ebooks directly from Amazon: They remain hosted and available for re-download to any of your devices from the Amazon ‘cloud.”

It’s possible to use the desktop version of the Kindle application (I use Kindle for Mac) and add downloaded ebooks there which you want to read.

Browsing to add an eBook to Kindle for iPad

Unfortunately, as I previously mentioned, any books you load this way will NOT automatically show up and be available on your iPad or other Kindle-compatible devices. That only works for content you buy and download directly from Amazon.com. The path to save Kindle ebooks on a Mac is, by default:
– Your user folder
— Library
— Application Support
—- Kindle
—– My Kindle Content

Path to save Kindle eBook Content

Although I’m disappointed Kindle ebooks downloaded from non-Amazon.com websites can’t be automatically synced across platforms, I understand this from Amazon’s business standpoint. Because of this, in the future whenever possible I’ll download my free Kindle ebooks directly from Amazon.com so they become part of our family “ebook archive.” (This works because we all use a common/shared Amazon account.) For books out of copyright like “Natural Theology,” however, it makes the most sense to obtain FREE versions rather than pay a publisher on Amazon. The lack of an available sync across Kindle-devices is a small price to pay for a FREE ebook!

Hat tip to Del Tackett for mentioning “Natural Theology” in DVD Part 5A of “The Truth Project.” Over the past few years I’ve posted some notes about “The Truth Project” videos over on the Eyes Right blog.

For more tips and great resource sites related to ebooks, see my 11 May 2011 post, “eBooks and ePub Format Digital Books: A #tltechforum Roundable.” That great discussion was facilitated by Charlene Chausis.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/marian.heddesheimer Marian Heddesheimer

    Good advise. Another good source for free eBooks that are in the public domain is http://www.manybooks.net/ where you can download various formats. I even find some free novels from authors who publish their works in the public domain these days.

  • Pingback: Trabajando con libros electrónicos gratis en Kindle iPad no de Amazon.com | vivirlaeducacion

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7XBBUHAWCGQGFQLROPSB426ZEA Sheldon

    Good to know. One thing I would like to add is that if you happen to have a copy of an ebook on your computer, to get it to Kindle on the iPad, you can simply email the file to yourself and open it with Mail on the iPad. Kindle will then incorporate it.

  • Paul

    Thanks for your tips. In addition, you can now also email the .mobi Kindle formated books to your device. Amazon has created an email for each Kindle device that you can send books and documents such as PDF for DOC etc to read on your Kindle. You can go into your Kindle settings to find out your Kindle email address.

  • Jennifer

    Great information to know, I am thinking of investing in a Kindle.  Many of my students have them and they have asked about books on their devices and then on their computers.  I will share this information with them! 

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