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BookShare

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Books Share: too good to be true? – Which brings me to one of my favorite free indie eBook sites, Books Share. It is an enormous library of free indie books, many of which are extremely valuable when it comes to furthering one’s education. There are plenty of textbooks here, for instance, some of which you may even be able to use for college classes. Or perhaps you are more of a rogue academic, perusing an education on your own terms … you will also likely find much to love on Books Share.

I bring this aspect of Books Share up first because, unfortunately, a great deal of the free indie eBook websites out there offer books that aren’t necessarily of the highest quality. I call them ‘junk food books.’ A great deal of these sites specialize in genres like erotica, romance, fan fic, etc. Not that there is anything wrong with being a fan of these genres, of course. But I think we can agree that many of these books are more entertainment oriented than they are educational. Books Share is refreshing in that it is geared more towards the educational than anything else – and that is a very rare trait in a free indie eBook website.

At first glance, Books Share seems almost too good to be true. It offers thousands of free indie titles, plenty of fascinating topics and credible, educational titles, and a decent way of browsing the site’s massive library. The further I delve into this site, however, it seems as if Books Share might, in fact, be too good to be true after all. Let’s dive in and take a look, shall we, and I’ll show you just what I mean.

Design

From the moment that I landed on Books Share’s home page, I must admit, I was not immediately taken with the site’s design. In fact, this seems to be a fairly common problem with free indie eBooks sites, shoddy or uninspired site design You’d think that providing a streamlined, user-friendly means of browsing such a large collection of books would be the primary concern of a site like this.

There seems to be a disconnect, however, between the worlds of literature and technology. More often than not, eBook sites are clunky, clumsy, and more difficult to navigate than they need to be. Unfortunately, Books Share is not an exception to the rule.

Home page – When you first visit Books Share, you will be greeted by a rather bland white and beige theme. You will find a search bar at the top of the page, allowing you to look for books by title, author, or ISBN. Just above the search bar is a site menu bar; however, the site menu bar could be a lot more helpful than it is. Instead of providing a convenient and easy means of browsing titles, the site menu bar, instead, offers the following: Home, Terms of Use, DMCA, and Contact – all components that you would typically find at the very bottom of a website, not featured as the first thing that you see when you visit a site.

From there, scroll down a bit to find eBook selections, separated by category. This allows you to quickly browse a few titles. Here, you’ll find Latest eBooks, Most Popular, and featured eBooks. To the left of these selections, you are also able to access a decent site navigation menu that enables you to search for titles by genre and subject. Tags include things like Art, History, Mathematics, Psychology, Business, etc. There are also plenty of category tags, such as cooking, crafts/hobbies, architecture, literary criticism, technology, travel, self-help, and many, many more.

Inner pages – This site, on the whole, is very simplistic. When you click on a title, you’ll be brought to a separate page that has the bare minimum that you’d expect: a summary of the book, a sample, a download button, and a read now button. This page will also lead you to a selection of similar free indie eBooks. These pages, too, though, are also unnecessarily cramped and cluttered. There is nothing experiential or responsive about this site. I highly recommend a makeover.

Content and Features

The premise of this site is also extremely straightforward. The site hosts links to downloads of tons of free indie eBooks, most of which are educational in nature. So, it should be noted that if you are looking for a lighthearted beach read or something to relax in the park with, Books Share may not be the site for you. The books on this site are going to be very dense … a great deal of them are textbooks.

Given that fact, Books Share is likely a very valuable resource for college students.

Mobile and Desktop Experience

Surprisingly, I am slightly fonder of the mobile experience of Books Share than I am of the desktop website. The site is just significantly more intuitive on phone and tablet screens. It does strike me as odd, though, that the site should be so well optimized for mobile devices and so poorly laid out for desktop browsers. That being said, both versions of the site are lousy with ads.

The ads on this site are shameless. They are everywhere, they are misleading, and they are sketchy. Nearly every click, too, opens a tab to a new ad. This is very unfortunate … I had high hopes for Books Share.

Likes & Hates:
Tons of free indie academic and scholarly books
All indie books are free
Mobile friendly
Subpar site design
Too many ads
Books difficult to download
Not many user features