Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Free Entertainment via the Internet

Free and legal, that is.  I'm trying to save money, which means using less money to buy media, but I want to do that while respecting copyright laws.

This post was inspired by discovering that Mur Lafferty is giving away EIGHT novels/novellas for absolutely free during May and June.  The set consists of her five-part Afterlife series plus three other works.  I haven't read anything by Mur before, but I've listened to her wonderful readings on the Escape Pod (more on that in a moment).  I'll store these stories away on my Nook, ready to be consumed when I travel in June.  I also have a pdf copy of Scott Westerfeld's Uglies, one of my favorite books, acquired for free during a promotion a couple of years ago. I learned about

Barnes and Noble's website has a section for free ebooks.  A few years back they had about five classic novels available for free each week.  I "bought" as many as I could, and held on to them, which has come in handy now that I have a Nook.  It appears they're having a similar sale at the moment (or they brought it back in a more permanent fashion).  Another source for free ebooks is Project Gutenberg.  Granted, they only provide books that have entered the public domain, but again, if you don't mind reading classics then it's great.

What about audiobooks? I acquire them from LibriVox, an audio version of Project Gutenberg.  Not always the highest quality (look for versions where one person has read the entire book, rather than a different person on every chapter), but hey, they're free.  I adore the readers on my copies of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility.  Again, only public domain books can be found here.

Finally, podcasts from the Escape Artists group provide a fabulous source of new fiction.   I found Escape Pod's 100th episode three years ago, although I don't remember how I found it.  Every week they post an audio rendition of a science fiction short story (35-50 minutes long), and they release a pdf copy of the stories once per month.  And it's all for free, although they request donations so that they can offer competitive pay to their authors and readers.  Escape Artists also offers a weekly fantasy story at PodCastle, and a horror story at PseudoPod

My primary method for discovering these sites has been through reading blogs or simply by googling "free _____" (audio books, for example - generic terms are best).  I listen to Pandora for my free music fix; I use the free version of the service at the moment but I'm probably going to switch to the paid subscription soon (a few dollars per month will get rid of the ads, which drive me crazy).  I also subscribe to streaming Netflix.  So not everything can be both free and legal.  Still, as shown above, a little effort yields quite a few options that fit both categories.

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