Most—though not all—new books are simultaneously published as an ebook when the print version comes out. Ebooks are cheaper, on the whole. There are also special offers, when new ebooks are available as part of a reasonably cheap subscription (like Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited), though, on the whole, the kind of books Five Books experts recommend don’t tend to be included.
It’s when it comes to older books that the ebook format comes into its own. You can read some of the greatest authors of all time and most of the classics of literature for free. Amongst our 20 most recommended books, books available for free as ebooks range from Plato’s Republic to Frankenstein. It also includes some of the most important science books ever written, like The Origin of Species. Even books translated into English are available for free, like War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. Even though it was written in Russian, the translation we recommend, by Louise and Aylmer Maude, is also already in the public domain.
Of course, it’s not all about cost, and there are other advantages to ebooks. Below are our recommendations of books that are particularly suited to reading as ebooks, selected by Five Books editors. Note: if you’re wondering which reader to get, here’s our review of the various Kindles.
Even if you’ve never studied philosophy, it’s nice to be able to read a few books and get a sense of what it’s all about. Here, we asked our philosophy editor, Nigel Warburton, to talk us through five key works of Western philosophy—many of them in the public domain and available for free as ebooks—and explain why, despite one or two odd conclusions or quirky writing styles, they’ve played such an important role in expanding our understanding of the world.
If you’re of a certain age, reading a physical, paper book is almost always a more pleasurable experience than reading on an electronic device. Still, ebooks have some advantages that make them difficult to resist, not least of which is cost. Here Five Books editors share tips on when they’ve found ebooks particularly useful.