Last time out, we took a look at how to use Amazon to find free ebooks for your Kindle reader or app*. The plan when I started writing was to cover both the big names in a single post, but the process for one took longer than I expected. Here, then, is part two of the comparison.
From the main Barnes and Noble website, click the Nook Books link at the top of the page. It’s right below the search box. This takes you to a page much like Amazon’s main Kindle books page, with a limited assortment of upcoming titles, bestsellers, and other items the company feels compelled to promote. Fortunately, we’ve got a category/genre menu down the left side of the page.
Do NOT click the “NOOK Books Under $5” link. There are no freebies to be found there.
Choosing a section to browse should be like going to that particular set of shelves in a physical store. Alas, if this is the metaphor, Barnes and Noble forces you to stare at an endcap of featured titles first. Granted, Amazon does the same thing, but it somehow bugs me more here. But once you’ve chosen your subcategory, you do finally get to the big list.
Barnes and Noble does let you sort the listing by price, just like at Amazon. Also like at Amazon, this does nothing to help find things other people seem to have liked. To make matters worse, the Barnes and Noble development team have chosen not to replicate Amazon’s top 100 free lists.
But that’s okay, because there’s a very clever workaround. I figured it out all by myself.
From any Barnes and Noble page, type “free” in the search box. Choose “Nook Books” from the drop-down department menu, and run the search. You now have tens of thousands of pages of free books (or, granted, books with “Free” in the title–their search engine doesn’t differentiate). Please notice that the category menu is still there on the left.
This is the neat part.
Choose a category, and when the page reloads you’ll find that the search term stayed active. You now have a list of freebies in your preferred genre that can be sorted by bestsellers or any of the other available criteria.
So which is better? The Barnes and Noble method is less intuitive, but once you’ve got that worked out you can actually find the 101st best-selling free ebook in any category, should it exist. The Amazon bestsellers cap it at 100.
I’m tempted to call this one a draw.
*So, why do I even care about how Amazon does things, given that I’m a Nook guy? Well, turns out that the free and open source ebook-management software Calibre
can, with the help of a handful of plugins that are not officially recognized, make converting from one format to the other almost trivial. The Calibre forums won’t walk you through the process, but there are threads that will provide the proper search terms. To my way of thinking, it’s no different than someone taking an album’s worth of music from iTunes of whereever, and burning it to a CD so they can listen to it in their car.