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BookGlutton – Read and Discuss Free eBooks

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.

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Authonomy – Social Network for Writers

Social networks for writers are a great idea – I should know, I run one myself. There are various specialised social networks for writers on Ning.com and they do provide a service the bigger social networks like Facebook can’t. On a specialised network writers can find each other and make contact more easily, and if the network is organised right the good writers do rise to the surface and show so that the publishers who join can find them. I’ve seen two authors picked up by publishers in this way so it can be done.

Authonomy is a little different to many of the specialised social networks for writers because it’s organised by HarperCollins. However, that doesn’t show from the interface as it’s set up in a way that’s just like a standard writers’ network. You can join, create your profile, promote your writing (published or unpublished), join in with discussions on the forum and upload your writing to share and get feedback. Members are also encouraged to recommend their favourite books, and favourite writing by other members, and the books can be from any publisher.

I joined and will be using this site and would recommend it to any writer. I also believe publishers should be looking at these social networks to find the talented authors – they do rise head and shoulders above the rest. A difficulty can arise if these social networks also get so large that they have a similar problem to that created on Facebook: too many writers and pieces of writing being submitted to showcase so they get lost in the crowd.

It will be interesting to see if this site does lead to authors being talent-spotted, and if not it’s still a great way to meet other writers. The social network approach seems almost compulsory nowadays for many types of business, and I think all publishers should be providing this kind of site. The articles with helpful advice for writers are especially useful.

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Maggwire – Magazine Articles Online

While Maggwire is at beta stage it’s free for readers, and well worth a look. Subscription services for individual well-known publications are already successfully established so there’s good potential for Maggwire when a premium service emerges. The difference with Maggwire is that it aggregates articles by a huge selection of magazines – 650 at the time of writing this review and growing. The selection of magazines is impressive, including major titles and a vast range of subjects.

The website is well laid out with the possibility of searching by publication title or via a toolbar of main subject categories, each with a drop-down menu of sub-categories. The articles are then arranged according to popularity and ratings given as feedback by readers. Rating the articles lets Maggwire see where your interests lie, and on future visits it will personalise the service to suit you.

Clicking on article titles takes you to each publication’s website, and Maggwire also lets you share articles you find interesting by email or on social networks. There’s a Maggwire community so you can post comments and discuss the articles. With reading moving more and more into digital form the likelihood is that services will be needed to select articles and books that should only be available by subscription, and a comprehensive website like Maggwire would have a key role to play.

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Free Book–s – Find and Download Free Books

freebookThis 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.

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Write4.net – Write and Publish

Logo If you want to publish articles or blogs using text, pictures and videos embedded right into your content and without worrying for a website setup, write4.net is the place.

This twitter application allows you to simply give a title and your content which can include pictures or videos like those on YouTube and it publishes it via your Twitter account. Can’t get easier than this.

The service is entirely free (you don’t even have to open an account)  and provides a personal page for publishing twitters and the facility to get feeds also. It is in beta and the webmasters have plans to expand their reach to other social networking sites in the future.

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Openzine – E-zines for everyone

Logo Ever thought of publishing your own e-zine? For free? Look no further than Openzine.com.

Openzine are have created an easy and  free way of creating an ezine. The most important and eye catching feature of a magazine is the title page which is really fun and easy to create in the interface which openzine provides. Although not as powerful as the professional solutions, it is far better than most online image editors and comes packed with a lot of self explanatory features. The site also has a video tour explaining the process of title creation which is what others should follow.

The site provides numerous templates for content management. A text editor is provided for adding some professional touches to your creation. The author can save the unfinished work and resume it later for that extra polishing before finally publishing it. So write some content, sign up for an account and publish your creation for the world to see.

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