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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Free Books

In this installment of free things, I have found a number of books available for free.  You don’t even need a Kindle or Nook to read these, as long as you have some digital device capable of supporting a reader app.  Also places like Magic Blox have free books available for children to read once a month.  These are picture books in full color and are charming reads for no cost.  All you need is a computer or access to one, like at a library.

I’m not sure you actually have to have a Kindle anymore to be able to read free digital books from Amazon.  I often read my books including my free Bible from my desktop computer and even my smart phone using a free app.  My husband uses his iPad to read digital books he has downloaded from Amazon.  Seems to me, of the thousands of free books listed on Amazon, all you need is a device to read them from.

Some of the titles in the free book list are rather obscure and it takes a long time to plow through the rather useless or obsolete titles before you find a really cool gem, but I found several.  I was overjoyed to find all of the Wizard of Oz titles (14, I believe) for free, as well as all of Anne of Green Gables.  There are several versions of Aesop’s fables for free and Grimms Fairy Tales.  Some of these even have illustrations.  I had thought that these were titles that contained no illustration to keep the cost low.  One super gem I found was a little known title called TheLife of Hon. William F. Cody Known as Buffalo Bill the Famous Hunter, Scout andGuide by William Frederick Cody.  This was such an unexpected fascinating book that I couldn’t believe it was free.  I included photos of Buffalo Bill. You could hear Buffalo Bill’s charming voice in the story and the words and in the many anecdotes he told were funny and clever.  Who knew on top of everything else that he was a writer too?

Some free titles are the first book of a series.  I think this is rather genius.  You get the first in the series free and so if you like the series you get hooked and feel the rest of the books are a bargain because you already know you liked the book and the characters.  I started reading Mythos Academy series that way; lovely YA series about a High School Academy for gifted students who were descendants of ancient warriors like Vikings, Valkyrie, Amazons, Romans, Spartans and even a Gypsy or two.  I also love Nikolas & Company series about a fantasy future and past where the moon used to be a sister planet to Earth with magical creatures such as Mermaids and Mermen, monsters, dragons and so much more. 


Many apps on Amazon are free.  Some are reading apps, banking apps, drawing apps, and game apps.  You have to decide what you are looking for.  Remember the point of offering free stuff is in the hopes that you will see something you are willing to pay money for.  So they sprinkle low priced apps in with the free apps.  Check before clicking.

Newer Apple devices also offer iBooks, which is very much like Amazon in that there are thousands of free books listed, many of the same titles as Amazon lists for free.  It seems redundant to me to have two sources with the same book listings but sooner or later the competition will provide a wider variety of books not listed on one or the other sites.  Competition is good.

Once a month Magic Blox allows your child to read one digital picture book free on the computer.  All you need is a membership.  The site is full a great educational and interesting children’s picture books.  I love that even the free book read looks and feels/is animated like the pages of a book.  Your child will love this site and all the books there.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Again More Free Photos

“Free” things should be free.  Those that charge for shipping or handling or logging in just are not free.  So I have found a few things that are not mentioned very often that are actually free.  For my third installment on Actually Free downloads, I submit Big Stock Photo, Public Domain Images, Morgue Files and Image After.  These offer royalty-free professional photos and some vector drawings for the taking.  With these sites you get to choose what photos you wish, instead of being held to whatever they offer free.  This is a great deal if you have a blog site, write articles or print brochures for your company where you need professional images to enhance your text.  It is always best to get royalty-free images from a site like this than to risk stealing an image that may be copyrighted and get hit with a lawsuit later.  It is helpful to always include giving credit to the site and the photographer for those photographs you use.

The same as Graphic Stock, Big Stock offers a 7-day free trial with 5 free downloads of professional quality royalty-free stock photos for the cost of giving them your credit card information.  If you cancel on the 6th day you are fine.

Sometimes it is important to have a photo of a room for drawing purposes.

This is a site with thousands of royalty-free public domain photographs free for the downloading.  They are, however, not all professional quality images.  Many need a little color or exposure adjusting in a photo program like Photoshop.  The site offers a list on the left hand side of categories but you then have to plow through one image at a time in search of specific treasures.  It makes it difficult to find exactly the type of image that you are in need of, but then again, free is free.  I have found many great treasures here.  For citation purposes each image has a reference name and photographer credit.  This is helpful if you want to credit the image to a specific photographer, however since these images are public domain it isn’t necessary.  It is however a good practice to get into the habit of doing.

This site also carries thousands of royalty-free photographs free for the downloading.  Unlike the site above, most of these images are amateurish and with few exceptions, are useful for a professional site.  Almost all need to be fixed with either exposure or color filters.  The only reason to look here would be for specialty photos of things you just don’t see everyday, old walls, doorknobs, sleds, textures, etc.  I have found a few redeeming photos but I spent hours plowing through really bad photos to find them.  Most of the time, I find this site is not worth my precious time to be worth the price of free.  That’s sad.  Also they do not credit the photographers (small wonder) so there is no possibility of giving credit where credit is due if you do find something worthy. 

These are limited photos but are all free and professional looking.  They only ask that you give credit if their photos are used for professional or publishing purposes.