Who doesn’t like free stuff?
Sure, there are some give-aways you wish you had never gotten and unsolicited junk mail samples galore. But there are indeed genuine free resources out there, and here’s a list of a few of them.
Let’s start with the kid stuff.
Enter the Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature here, where you can browse several categories, search for subjects, authors, or titles.
The site features full-screen, zoomable images of the book covers. Download XML versions and read all of the over 6,000 books in the collection with comfortable reader views.
Load up some classics on your portable device for future reading with selections from this collection of 800 ebooks from Open Culture.
This free library includes fiction, non-fiction and poetry, with works by authors including Asimov, Jane Austen, Philip K. Dick, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Neil Gaiman, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Shakespeare, Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf & James Joyce.
New to ebooks? There’s even a quick video tutorial on how to download ebooks onto your device.
Rather listen than read but still want a taste of great literature?
Download any of these 900 free audio books —mostly classics — for your listening pleasure. With great works sorted by sections such as fiction, poetry and non-fiction, you can easily enjoy the works of authors such as Twain, Tolstoy, Hemingway, Orwell, Vonnegut, Nietzsche, Austen, Shakespeare, Asimov, HG Wells & more.
More interested in free images?
The British Library’s collection of images on Flickr are taken from books it has its collection from the 17th, 18th and 19th Century – so well out of copyright.
Vaguely arranged by themes such as book covers, cycling, illustrated lettering, comic art, ships or children’s book illustration, the collection also offers a treasure trove of historical maps of all sorts.
There’s also a collection of ‘Highlights‘ that’s a good place to start if you just want to browse their holdings.
Finally, a musical feast for your ears. Let’s get you something to listen to besides audio books.
This collection of 25,000 vintage recordings of songs on 78RPM discs from the early 20th century ranges from gospel by the Tuskegee Institute Sings, to opera recorded in Italy, to novelty tunes by Spike Jones, to hot — though obscure — jazz.
My favorite part about this last collection is how one fellow, George Blood, dedicated to digitizing these old recordings through The Great 78 Project, has amassed these recordings. This is of personal interest to me since I inherited quite a few old 78s from my father, ranging from Spike Jones to Nat King Cole to the Dorsey Brothers. While most of the records look to be in less than pristine condition, I still would love to hear what my Dad used to listen to back in the day.
There you go, friends — a few thousand freebies for your entertainment and enlightenment.