BookGlutton is a beautifully designed site with a good selection of free eBooks in a variety of genres to suit all tastes. There are already plenty of sites around that allow the downloading of free eBooks, so BookGlutton takes a different approach. It’s not just an eBook download site, it’s also an eBook reader, like the Kindle or Sony Reader but on your computer, and presents the books in an attractive page-turning format on screen.
This can be used by people who aren’t members, but by registering with BookGlutton you can take advantage of more features. It’s possible to discuss the book you’re reading with other BookGlutton members and you can mark your ideas as you progress in the book so that the comments are relevant at each stage. This is done in various ways, including forums, but also by clicking a chat link on the left of the eBook as you read it.
The eBooks have various features typical of eBook reading gadgets like the Kindle. You can mark the pages, for example. The interactive way you can read the books brings together the benefits of downloading and reading books on screen that a Kindle gives, and the social experience of being in a book discussion community. The designers say they will be adding more with a subscription service, but that there will always be a large amount of free content too.
Whether you like to review movies, books, music TV programmes or something else you can do it here. The site specialises in mini reviews, so a glance at each page lets visitors instantly see which ones are of interest. This is good for viewers, but also makes it more tempting to get your ideas down quickly, add a picture, and share them. You can also give a star rating to go with each review.
Like many sites this one it going the way of building a community and that seems to be an increasingly popular approach. Users are encouraged to invite friends and look at each other’s reviews. With so many people preferring to Tweet short comments rather than commit to longer blog entries, and with visitors liking to get their information in quickly digested chunks, ShortReviews should appeal.
This website will not only prove attractive to people who want to find free downloadable e-books to read, it will also help authors and publishers discover whether their books are being offered illegally. I regularly use search engines to locate free copies of books, short stories, nonfiction and poetry for reading groups and performance, and this definitely provides an easier method and a much more comprehensive list of finds.
Searches are handled on the main page where users answer the question ‘I want a free book about’. They type their answer into a single field, whether it’s the author, title, subject, publisher, or a combination of these. It would be better to have more advanced search options, but I found that by using a combination of author and title I achieved far better results from this than I have using other approaches. I tested it by searching for Martin Amis and found free books I couldn’t find using other methods, and searching for other books that shouldn’t be offered free brought up unauthorised offerings.
It’s also possible to type in more general queries, such as ‘learn to speak mandarin’ and a comprehensive list appears. It’s not hard to imagine the many ways this could be used by students, researchers and businesses as well as readers. Publishers and authors will be heading straight for it to see if pirate copies are circulating, and with ebooks gaining popularity the site is sure to appeal. The menu also offers PDF books and the ability to look at Last Searches and Top Searches, with Top Searches showing some amusing choices.