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Every once in a while, I come across a site that is not a torrent site per se, but is a good enough source of free content that it seems worth adding to my list of the best torrent sites nonetheless. This just so happens to be the case with PDF Books World.
At the end of the day, we are really torrenting more as a means to an end than anything else, aren’t we? That end, of course, being free indie movies, TV shows, music, open-source software, and eBooks. If there is a site that allows you to simply download PDF files of great free indie eBooks, why should I not let you know about it? There is no sense in missing out on a great free eBook site just because it doesn’t exactly fit the “torrent site” mold.
Thousands of free indie PDF eBooks for download – On PDF Books World, as the name of the site implies, users are able to download thousands of, well, free indie PDF books, absolutely free of charge. This is one of the simplest and most straightforward sites that I have ever seen. There is really nothing more to it than that. I don’t know about you, but I like a site that keeps it simple … especially when it comes to quickly being able to search and download books without any unnecessary bells and whistles.
That is exactly what you have in store for you when you visit PDF Books World. All you have to do is browse or search for a title, click on it from a list of cleanly organized books, and download the PDF. Voila. It doesn’t get much easier than that, does it?
Although there is not a whole lot in the way of extra user features to the site, it is a solid archive of public domain literature. The texts are high-quality, too. Each comes in an easily readable format, whether you prefer to read eBooks on your laptop, tablet, or mobile (there are separate versions for each). Every book also comes with large-font options (for strain-free reading), a table of contents, illustrations (in many cases), and a list of reference links for you to follow-up on if you so desire.
Classics and public domain titles abound – When you download eBooks from PDF Books World, however, don’t expect to find the latest or most popular editions. You won’t, for instance, find the Penguin Classics version of, say, Milton’s Paradise Lost here. That being said, the special PDF editions that are created for PDF Books World are pretty decent, nonetheless. I was pleasantly surprised, actually, at how well these eBooks were produced. Whoever puts these things together clearly understands and respects the art of publication.
There is a catch, though, which I was disappointed to learn not until I attempted to download an eBook from PDF Books World. In the interest of potentially saving you time, I want to frontload this: to download eBooks here, you will have to pay for a membership.
Granted, the cost is negligible when compared to how much you would end up paying for a few of these books, should you purchase them in-store. However, it is also worth nothing that a great deal of the titles available here, since they are in the public domain, are readily available as free eBooks elsewhere (even on Kindle or Amazon). But I will unpack the price and whether it is worth the cost or not later on in this review.
PDF Books World really does have a no-nonsense site design. In fact, I would go so far as to characterize it as little more than a white background with text and a list of downloadable book titles. There is nothing experiential or immersive about this site. Don’t get me wrong, I like a minimalistic site design just as much as the next guy, but this feels less sleek and modern design choice, and more either incompetent site design or good, old-fashioned laziness.
The thing that I hate most about the design of the site is that the Authors list (one of the 4 ways you can browse eBooks) is alphabetized by the author’s first name and not his last. Maybe this is the neurotic in me talking, but this is one of the most frustratingly annoying things that I have seen on an eBooks archive in recent memory.
Other than that, PDF Books World allows users to browse by eBook title, genre, popular, and new. There is not really enough to this site to warrant saying anything more about it.
Content and Features
PDF Books World is certainly far from the largest archive of eBooks that I have ever seen. If I were to be generous, I would round up to say that the total number of eBooks to download here is approximately 2,000. Surely, this is plenty of reading. But what of the quality of the titles? Does PDF Books World offer timeless classics, or smutty paperback romances?
Well, this is one area in which PDF Books World shines. This site does, indeed, have an impressive library of iconic authors and books available. From H.G. Wells to Dickens to Henry David Thoreau, there is no shortage of great reading on PDF Books World, that is for sure.
However, books are only available for in-browser reading and PDF download (which may come as no surprise, the site is called PDF Books World, after all). Still, though, there are many free eBooks sites that, in addition to PDF and in-browser reading, also offer ePub and/or KOBO formats as well.
Mobile and Desktop Experience
This site lets you download eBooks both on your home computer and your mobile device with ease. Fortunately, PDF Books World is decently optimized for mobile devices, rearranging the format so that it is easier to read and navigate on a smaller screen.
Additionally, as I mentioned before, the site offers different PDF editions of each eBook, making for an ideal reading experience whether you are on your laptop, tablet, or phone, making PDF Books World an excellent choice for anyone who prefers to download eBooks on the go.
Pricings and Plans
The cost is my biggest complaint when it comes to PDF Books World. It’s not that I would necessarily mind paying for a solid enough eBooks archive … but I would have to be getting something very unique and useful in exchange for my payment. If PDF Books World allowed me to, say, download unlimited numbers of both classics and contemporary bestsellers alike for a reasonable price, I would definitely consider it. When it comes to paying for eBooks (or any online service, for that matter), I need to be saving money somehow in the long run.
Since the eBooks that are available on PDF Books World are, in fact, all in the public domain, the site does not offer titles that are hard to find for free elsewhere on the web. Why would I pay to download eBooks when I can download eBooks for free? The very same eBooks (often in more authoritative editions as well), mind you, are often easily found on eBooks torrent sites and other places.
That being said, if you are still interested in PDF Books World, I suppose the membership price isn’t entirely absurd or unreasonable, at least for the sheer convenience of it. Members of PDF Books World will pay $29.99 per year. In return, members have unlimited downloads and access to the entire PDF Books World library, an ad-free experience, one-click downloads, and instant access.
Suggestions that I have for PDF Books World
Firstly, I would like to see PDF Books World spruce up the site a little bit. Especially if they are to offer in-browser reading (which they do). There are some free eBooks sites out there that offer a very modern and professional in-browser reading and browsing experience. I suggest that PDF Books World take some pointers from them.
Secondly, if you are going to charge for access to public domain books, please do consider creating some additional features that would warrant payment. Simply being able to download eBooks that are free elsewhere on the web is not enough.
Maybe if the site also offered exclusive access to certain titles. Maybe if books were available in several formats (not just PDF). Maybe if there was at least the occasional non-public domain title available, maybe that would make it worth it for me. Simply creating a simple way to download public domain eBooks, however, is not grounds for charging members a yearly subscription fee, in my opinion.