Christmas is just a few days away, or perhaps you are reading this after a post-holiday Google search. In 2011 millions of Americans received an eReader for Christmas, and I have no doubt that 2012 will be the same. If you are one of those lucky new eReader owners, here is some advice from a Kindle owner since 2009.
Your first instinct may be to rush to Amazon and load every free classic onto your Kindle. Stop! You will never find anything on your menu again. Avoid the clutter. Buy on your desktop computer (if possible) and load your device with only what you plan to read in the very near future. You can always use the “send to device” button on Amazon to add content later.
The free classics on Amazon are sometimes great, but often are terribly formatted with unskippable forwards and clumsy front matter. You may have always intended to read War and Peace, but until the week you actually plan to do it, leave it off your Kindle.
Amazon is not the only place to go for free books. There are a number of sites that catalog free classics for almost every eReader imaginable, and book blogger Twitter feeds will often alert fans when certain Indie books go on free promotion. Matter Deep Publishing offers free holiday stories on their website.
You might also benefit from browsing through Amazon’s Kindle Singles. These are cheap ($3 or less) essays and short stories. You have to be accepted to the program, so every unedited public domain work is not posted there.
No matter what you put on your Kindle, make sure to plug it in with the power cable and back up your files. This is especially important with books downloaded on non-Amazon sites. Your Kindle books are afforded a certain level of protection, but Smashwords and Project Gutenberg books may be taken offline at any time.
Finally, to ensure the battery life of your device, switch off the internet when you are not actively using it. Internet connectivity seriously decreases your battery life. An eInk Kindle can last two months on one charge with Whispernet or the WiFi turned off.
To start, here are a few great, cheap (or free) books for your new eReader.
Happy reading and Merry Christmas!