This week marks the 30th anniversary of Banned Books Week, a censorship-awareness campaign backed by “the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types,” according to the American Library Association.
The ALA keeps a running tally of the most commonly challenged or banned books, based on media reports and submissions from individuals; titles on the 2011 list range from classics like To Kill a Mockingbird to young-adult trilogy The Hunger Games. Nearly half of the books on the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century list have been banned or been the target of censors at some point in history.
Like most other things in life, controversial literature is better when it’s free, so the blog MoneyTalksNews.com has helpfully put together a list of where you can track down ebook versions of 20 banned books.
If you’re not in the market for provocative literature but you still like a deal, there are a handful of sources for readers who want free or dirt-cheap ebooks. Many, but by no means all, of the freebies are classics that are no longer subject to copyright restrictions. The nonprofit Project Gutenberg has 40,000 titles for free in a number of formats, and these aren’t hobbyist fan fiction, either. “We carry high quality ebooks: All our ebooks were previously published by bona fide publishers,” its website says.eBooks@Adelaide, out of Australia’s University of Adelaide, has been collecting digital versions of classic books since 1998 — nine years before the iPhone even existed.The Internet Archive is more than just free book downloads; it’s a digital warehouse of old TV shows, audio recordings, webpages, music, movies… you get the picture.Barnes & Noble has a section of free Nook ebooks on its website, along with a roundup of titles for less than $5 and a daily deal for less. Amazon.com offers a monthly selection of ebooks for $3.99 or less, and a “Daily Deal” for less than that.
There are free Kindle ebooks out there, too; sites like Hundred Zeros and One Hundred Free Books make it easy to search for or browse freebies. (One Hundred Free books features discounted titles for Kindle, too.)
Finally, don’t overlook your local library. An increasing number now let patrons “check out” ebooks as well as their paper counterparts.