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Publishing ManagementIt’s not widely known that you don’t have to actually own an Amazon Kindle e-reader in order to have a Kindle account.

But why would you want one?

Because you can download free Kindle reading apps for just about any digital device there is and use it as your Kindle-compatible e-reader. Free apps are available from Amazon for the PC and Mac computers; for iPad, Android, or Windows 8 tablets (I have one for my WebOS-powered HP tablet, too, but Amazon doesn’t list that one anymore); and for iPhone, Android, Windows, and Blackberry smartphones. That should cover you and just about anyone else that you know. Click here to go to Amazon’s web page to download any of these free Kindle apps.

Once you set up a free Kindle account with Amazon, you can assign up to seven different Kindle-enabled devices to share books between. I have an account that lets me access all of my books from my HP tablet and my Kindle e-reader. (Yes, I actually own a real Kindle in addition to having the free reader app installed on other digital devices.) This same account is shared by Sandy, who accesses it from her desktop, laptop, Android smartphone, and her Kindle. When either of us buys a Kindle book, it becomes available to both of us on all of our devices that share the same account.

But truth be told, we don’t buy many Kindle books. Don’t need to. We get ’em for free. By the truckload. I currently have over 700 Kindle books on my HP tablet and I’ve only had to pay for very few of them.

There are websites and email services that you can subscribe to that send you a listing of free or deeply discounted Kindle books every day. I check mine every day, because authors who decide to make their book available for free often do so for a very limited time. It might be for a specified number of days or hours, or until a predetermined number of free downloads has been reached. When the limits are reached, the book goes back for sale at its retail price, so I scan these email flyers every day and pounce on anything that looks reasonably interesting.

Personal experience: I was looking at a book on investing that cost $27. I decided I didn’t need to buy it that day. The next day it was one of the books listed for free at eReader News Today (see below). I downloaded it immediately. The free or deeply discounted books aren’t second-rate books. (OK, sometimes they are, but plenty of them aren’t.) Some of them are books we’ve already purchased in hard copy over the years. Now we can also access them on our Kindles, desktops, laptops, etc. And for a price of “free” I can afford to take a chance on something that I would be hinky about shelling out the cash for. I’ve found a couple of real gems that I never would have tried if I had to buy them.

Here is a short list of some of my favorite free Kindle book resources. You can visit their website and sign up for the daily email alerts. Or if your inbox is overloaded, you can just browse their site periodically:

http://ereadernewstoday.com/   — All types of books

http://www.pixelofink.com/   — All types of books

http://www.diningdownloads.com/   — Cookbooks

http://www.inspiredreads.com/   — Christian books

Besides these online resources, you can go to most libraries and borrow a Kindle book for two weeks for free. This would include books that you would otherwise not be able to find for free. And if you sign up for Amazon’s Prime service, one of the many benefits is the ability to borrow one book a month from Amazon. This benefit alone could easily justify the subscription fee.

One other resource you might find interesting is www.ebookfling.com. It is essentially a Kindle book lending service. Share your books and read books that others share. We have an account but have never used it. With 700 of our own books we haven’t found the need or time to.

Yeah, I know, this has been a long blog posting. But it’s a topic that I’m pretty passionate about. I just got back from vacation. I used to travel with a duffel bag full of books. Now I travel with my Kindle for outdoor sunshine reading and my HP tablet for indoor reading. 700 books, right in the palm of my hand. I didn’t used to be that strong.

A free Kindle account that you can share across seven devices. Free Kindle apps that you can run on your digital devices. Free Kindle books available from a variety of resources.

If it’s for free, it’s for me.

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