Bargain Lit for the Kindle
September 9, 2011 7:53 PM   Subscribe

Please recommend books you enjoyed that are 99 cents or less for the Kindle. Bonus: blogs that cover the same.

Rumor has it that my absolutely darling husband may be returning from two weeks away with a brand-new, long-desired Kindle for his very excited wife. This is delightful news.

The only problem is that I read at the speed of light. Were we not perpetually broke, this would be fine, but we are indeed broke and so I am swapping my $15 a month gaming budget for a $15 a month Kindle habit. I therefore would like you recommendations for free and 99-cents-or-less Kindle books. There seems to be hundreds of thousands of these on Amazon, I lack an understanding of how to filter them, and I'm a little overwhelmed.

I am not looking to re-read my way through the classics. I like crime and suspense fiction (Cornwell, Connelley, Le Carre, Francis), including but not limited to anything involving coroners or women detectives. Literary fiction is also very welcome; I enjoy John Irving, Gail Godwin, and A.S. Byatt in particular.

I have a prejudice against romance, fantasy, SciFi and self-published novels. I am willing to get over it for fabulous reads.

Bonus round: As I was unlikely to get one, I have paid zero attention to the Kindle until now, so any blogs that cover bargain lit for the Kindle would also be appreciated.
posted by DarlingBri to Writing & Language (37 answers total) 128 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Books on the Knob is your friend.
posted by katemonster at 8:03 PM on September 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

This is $1.99, a bit more than your limit, but I think you might enjoy it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:03 PM on September 9, 2011

Books on the Knob is my go to source for free and cheap Kindle reading. I linked to their free reading list page.

drat, on preview, katemoster beat me to it!
posted by cgg at 8:04 PM on September 9, 2011

Flatland. Free.
Golden Bough. Free.
Shakespeare (all of it). Free.

See the trend here? :D
posted by pla at 8:07 PM on September 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

Amazon just started a Kindle Daily Deal page, with a book per day at a deep discount -- from $2.99 to $0.99. None of the offers so far have been for books I have been interested in, but I figure it's worth keeping an eye on.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:07 PM on September 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

Crome Yellow is one of my favorite (short) books. Apparently it is free. It also appears that the entire Sherlock Holmes cannon is free.
posted by phunniemee at 8:15 PM on September 9, 2011

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (free).
posted by zippy at 8:17 PM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

My wife is totally hooked on Pixel of Ink. She finds free or very cheep Amazon books on there daily.
posted by DrumsIntheDeep at 8:23 PM on September 9, 2011

Best answer: Free Kindle books and tips blog.
posted by IndigoRain at 8:24 PM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

I use Free Kindle books and tips as well, which catalogs nearly every book that goes to free ... but that does include a lot of Sci-Fi, Romance, and chick lit. Out of maybe 10 books a day (more at the beginning of the month), I'll find one or two I'm curious enough to download. But still, I've got around 60 "to be read" books waiting, an awful lot of them from that blog, and when I start one and it's awful, I just delete.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:37 PM on September 9, 2011

Our own Sidhedevil runs this ebookscheap Twitter. She usually points out books between free and $3.
posted by grapesaresour at 9:02 PM on September 9, 2011

I'll go out on a limb and define classics as books you might be assigned in grade school, allowing me to recommend the following as literary fiction or something like it: Swann's Way, The Virginian, The Sea-Hawk, The Man Who Was Thursday, and Right Ho, Jeeves.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 9:08 PM on September 9, 2011

I found Choke on Your Lies to be an entertaining crime novel. Fast paced, playful and a little twisted.
posted by antimony at 9:41 PM on September 9, 2011

All of PG Wodehouse is in the public domain. You really don't need anything else. Also, in case you didn't know, it seems there may be massive book torrents - 35000 books at one click sort of torrents.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:47 PM on September 9, 2011

If you haven't used a Kindle before, you may not realize that it doesn't read .epub formatted files. Depending on the type of Kindle you have, Amazon may want to charge you for the service of converting any free epubs you acquire to .mobi/.azw format ... this is silly. You should use either Calibre or Amazon's own commandline KindleGen app to convert those other filetypes to .mobis that your Kindle will display.

I have seen some of the massive book torrents that CunningLinguist speaks of, and while they were certainly large, they seemed a very mixed bag. Lots of 100MB pdfs that are just straight scans, not OCRed. And then lots of bad OCRed doc files, too. YMMV... perhaps I've just been looking in the wrong places. Also, I'm pretty certain that quite a lot of Wodehouse is still under copyright, though he failed to renew many of his works, and so they have been Gutenberged.
posted by mumkin at 12:40 AM on September 10, 2011

Everything before 1922 should be free. That includes a rediculous amount of great literature. I've finished some free HP Lovecraft and Dracule and Frankenstein. Head over to project Gutenburgh and download away.
posted by koolkat at 1:17 AM on September 10, 2011

The Magic Catalog of Project Gutenberg is a file that automatically downloads free books from Amazon's store. It's an amazing piece of software.

And Calibre will download many free magazines and newspapers right to your kindle every week or day.
posted by mearls at 4:33 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you for the answers. To clarify my badly constructed question, I am aware of Project Gutenberg and know that huge amounts of great books out of copyright are available for free from multiple sources. I've pretty much read all the Doyle, Huxley, Wodehouse, etc.

I think what I'm really looking for is specific recommendations of novels you enjoyed published in the last, say, 15 years. The blog suggestions are great, and more specific titles would be very welcome. Thanks!
posted by DarlingBri at 5:48 AM on September 10, 2011

Best answer: I'm on the nook and just checked for recent crime titles that overlap. The Score by Richard Stark and John Banville is free right now. Some of James Swain's books are always available for $2.99. Michael Connelly's Black Ice is $1.99. Oh, wow. Jar City by Arnaldur Indriadason is $2.99. If the Kindle is anything like the nook, you do have to follow blogs because deals come and go, but there are a lot of bargains to be had in crime/thriller/detective fiction.
posted by BibiRose at 6:40 AM on September 10, 2011

Oh, I realize I went over your $.99 budget. It looks like if you are willing to go to $2-3, that opens up a lot more possibilities. I confess I raised my own nook-book budget from free to about $3 pretty quickly, rationalizing that there's time and there is money.
posted by BibiRose at 6:46 AM on September 10, 2011

Best answer: For what it is worth, the on-Kindle discovery process is pretty good for cheapskates like me. My approach is to choose a genre, sort by price ascending, and then limit results to four stars or better. It culls the herd nicely and when everything I can see is "free" it's pretty easy to just download a raft of stuff and start reading through it. (Note I am using the iOS Kindle app, the approach may be different with an actual device, but I am sure they offer the same sort/filter methods.)

As a specific recommendation, I quite enjoyed Smallworld by Dominic Green last week.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:54 AM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Kindle Nation Daily might be a help. Here's their section for free mystery/thrillers. A free one there, with twenty 5 star reviews is The Score.

"Each of the following 99-cent books, categorized as Mystery & Thriller, has received at least 4 Amazon reader reviews with an average rating of 4 stars or better."
Here is their $0.99 list of mysteries.

Here's another list of under $1 Kindle non-classic books, sorted by bestsellers.

Many useful searches are listed here on A Kindle World.

Limited Time offers from Amazon, rated by popularity (stars).

You might enjoy some of these. No idea if they're too low-brow for you:

Mama Does Time (42 customer reviews, 4.5 stars, currently $0)

Invisible (Ivy Malone mystery series. 274 reviews with 4+ stars, currently $0.)

Still Life With Murder
(71 customer reviews, 4.5 stars, currently $0.99)

I'm not sure if this search link will work, so follow this bread crumb trail for Kindle Limited Time Offers. You can obviously choose other genres for similar lists.
Kindle Store > Limited Time Offers > Kindle eBooks > Mystery & Thrillers
posted by barnone at 8:23 AM on September 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

I forgot to mention that many of these $0.99 - $2.99 deals are temporary. So even if someone had a favorite from a few months ago, they're not necessarily still listed for the same price.
posted by barnone at 8:26 AM on September 10, 2011

Best answer: "I think what I'm really looking for is specific recommendations of novels you enjoyed published in the last, say, 15 years. "

What's a little difficult about this, as barnone says, is that many (most?) free or very cheap recent books are free/cheap as a promo -- you get a lot of "first book in the trilogy" for free a couple weeks before book two comes out; also a lot of "author has new book out, let's make part of the back catalogue free a couple weeks to get interest"; etc.

Most of the free kindle novels I've really enjoyed in the past, say, two months, and would love to recommend, are back up to $9.99 or whatever. One I really liked was free for ONE DAY -- when I went to suggest it to a friend the next day, it was already $7.99 again! So it's easier to suggest places that list freebies, or categories, or out of print things, since the contemporary novels change very fast.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:16 AM on September 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

Kindle Review points out daily free and cheap Kindle books, while Daily Cheap Reads tends to the $1.99-4.99 range, but will also point out free and $.99 books on occasion.
posted by telophase at 2:04 PM on September 10, 2011

I know you said no romances BUT I have some fabulous recommenders for you! Smart Bitches, Trashy Books has reviews and links to cheap books. For instance, this is their latest. They are really great at talking about romance novels and have helped me go from no-romances-no-way-no-how to I-need-something-fluffy-to-distract-me-from-science. I wish you had asked this a couple weeks ago because Georgette Heyer books were $1.99 and they are great if you like clothes, weird slang and ridiculous characters with happy endings (Jane Austen meets PG Wodehouse with Vogue mixed in?). Actually it looks like they still might be that price so check it out.
posted by hydrobatidae at 5:58 PM on September 10, 2011


My experience has been that you want to check the Kindle store once or twice a week to look for sales. And if there are books you want to buy, but not at full price, add them to an Amazon wish list. Once a week, click through them all to see if any have gone on sale. I have scooped up some great bargains by being patient.

And you probably already know this, but if you collect all your pocket change into a dish, take it to a CoinStar machine! If you request an Amazon certificate instead of cash, they waive the 9% counting fee.
posted by ErikaB at 6:03 PM on September 10, 2011

I am not looking to re-read my way through the classics... I've pretty much read all the Doyle, Huxley, Wodehouse, etc...

I hear you, I do, but!
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen is absolutely splendid and no one ever reads that one. The gothic horror/murder mystery genre-savvy is a lot of fun for fans of these genres. The heroine thinks she is a detective, solving a horrible crime. Her love interest (pace Darcy fans) is the only truly fanciable hero in all Austen, in his modern snarkiness and total refusal to push the heroine around or think for her. Weirdly, Austen herself thought it was dated by the time it was finally published, but for me, it is the funniest and most relatable of all her books.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 11:44 PM on September 10, 2011

Response by poster: T-minus four hours and counting until my Kindle arrives! (That is it, leaving a shop in Edinburgh on its way home to meeeeeeee!)

Thanks so much for the blog suggestions, the recently discounted title suggestions, and the explaination of why this was a hard question to give specific answers on. I understand the limited time nature of these offers now, and have blogs a-plenty to help me in my new-found hobby of kindle sale stalking.

Did I mention I am SO EXCITED? :)
posted by DarlingBri at 10:10 AM on September 11, 2011

There are people out there who place books on hold at the library and when they arrive they then use IRC to download a plaintext or PDF of said book so they don't feel like a cheating McCheater.
posted by mecran01 at 8:31 PM on September 11, 2011

There are people out there who place books on hold at the library and when they arrive they then use IRC to download a plaintext or PDF of said book so they don't feel like a cheating McCheater.

Wait, what? Don't put a book on hold if you have no intention of reading it. I want to read that book, and so do about 50 other people who now have to wait in line behind you. That's not cool, man.
posted by phunniemee at 8:34 PM on September 11, 2011

Be sure to find out if your local library systems will check out ebooks.
posted by conrad53 at 6:10 PM on September 12, 2011

Inkmesh is your friend. Surprised it is not mentioned up thread. You can enter title and/or author and search for free books.
posted by adamvasco at 10:52 PM on September 12, 2011

I should add that Mefi's own anurag popped in briefly inthis thread to talk about Inkmesh
posted by adamvasco at 10:58 PM on September 12, 2011

Response by poster: Whee! I am tracking on Delicious all the books I've read since I got my Kindle on Monday. Even the ones that were not so great have been a pleasure - thanks again for all the tips in tracking them down.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:51 PM on September 15, 2011

Response by poster: More sources for bargain reads:

Mobile Read's Kindle forum has a monthly sticky for bargain books - just flip to the last page or two for what is currently on offer.

Amazon Editor's Picks for the Kindle have Top 10 lists by genre across all prices.

Also @kindlebargains on Twitter

And I swear there is a list of 0 - 2.99 books edited by Amazon itself - there was an ad in the sidebar and I clicked it, but now I can't find it again.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:35 PM on September 18, 2011

Check this out - Public library books for Kindle -
posted by bbyboi at 2:40 PM on September 27, 2011

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