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PlanetE-book

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Introduction

Is it just me, or should knowledge and education be free for all? Perhaps this is a radical idea, but it stands to reason that there would be a direct correlation between how many people have access to knowledge and the betterment of a given society. I understand that contemporary authors need to make a living somehow (I mean, come on, I’m a writer for hire myself), but why should publishers, especially the ones that already exist as giant beacons of wealth, be able to make even more money on old classic books that are well within the public domain by now?

Should these literary classics not be free? Is that not what public domain law exists for in the first place? It’s not like Jane Austen or Mark Twain are here to reap the profits off of their masterpieces anyway … In fact, I would wager that 9 out of 10 deceased and prolific literary giants would be more than pleased to know that their books are still being read; in fact, they would probably want their books to be as easily accessible as possible. Especially those writers who struggled a little more to get their work published in their lifetimes.

Furthermore, why does it seem as if every time a book is made available for free, the quality always has to take a hit as well? This may take the form of a subpar or inaccurate translation, poor editorial decisions, or just sloppy, less than ideal layout choices that make for a difficult reading experience. Do we really need a financial incentive in order to put out a quality product? What happened to the longstanding tradition of rogue philosophers and writers that worked tirelessly for nothing other than the joy that came with spreading ideas and powerful stories?

They may be all but died off in this post-modern world of late stage capitalism … luckily, though, there are a few holdouts. The last of a dying breed of free thinker, who still believes in making words and ideas free for all to enjoy. And Planet eBook is one such website that aims to make this possible.

History

Planet eBook: The Last of a Dying Breed

The founder of Planet eBook is a man about whom little is known. Well, little is known about him on a personal level. He is a man who prefers to be known by his work, a man whose surname I was unable to discover online. He only reveals himself as Richard on Planet eBook’s About page.

What we do know about Richard, however, is that, in addition to founding Planet eBook, he also created the one viable alternative to Adobe thus far, a PDF reader known as Nitro (which only just launched stably 7 months ago). His third business venture involves renting out his villa in Bali (must be nice). Planet eBook, based on what he has written in the About section appears to be a website redesign. Richard writes, “I’m currently living between Indonesia and Australia and have just recently finished a masters in writing. I occasionally try my hand at designing (or redesigning) websites and associated branding and marketing communications.” So, it would appear as if Planet eBook is not Richard’s first foray into the digital space, and it likely won’t be his last.

What is Planet eBook Anyway? – Planet eBook appears to be a very simple concept. It is a user-friendly and quick way to download free eBooks in various formats (ePub, PDF, etc.). At the moment, Planet eBook’s library is on the smaller side, but it has a decent number of iconic titles that are in Australia’s public domain. And the best part about it? Both the site and the eBooks themselves are elegantly designed and perfectly presented for hours and hours of easy and enjoyable reading.

Design

Speaking of site design, Planet eBook has a very clean and professional look to it. For some reason, it seems as if sites that offer free downloads of things tend to slack off on the design portion. Maybe they figure, ‘hey, you’re getting this for free, here it is then; on with your day.” That is not at all the impression one gets when they visit Planet eBook.

Home Page – From the moment you land on Planet eBook, the first thing you are likely to notice is the neat and modern look of the site. This website has plenty of clean lines that are extremely easy on the eyes. A page-white background presents various books that are neatly organized – each of which has its own unique cover that fits into a larger aesthetic theme, as in a series of classics that a publishing house might release.

Above this initial offering of titles, you’ll find a site menu bar that makes for easy navigation of the site. Here, you can choose from Titles, Authors, Devices, About, or a search bar. Simple and easy, all while looking great.

Inner Pages – The design does not let up in terms of quality the further into the site you delve. In fact, every single page of this site is a treat for the eyes. Clicking onto a particular book, for instance, brings you to a page with download buttons for 3 different formats: ePub, PDF, and MOBI. Alongside each book, too, Richard has included a little summary about it and how each particular title has affected him. These blurbs are thoughtful and smart, providing a great deal of insight regarding what’s in store for your reading.

What I love about this site’s aesthetic, too, is that it mirrors the content nicely. In other words, the font choices, the page-white and black theme, have a bookish feel to them. It’s almost as if the site itself is meant to look like you have cracked open a classic piece of literature.

Content and Features

The site’s features and contents are pretty straightforward. Planet eBook allows users to, without a registration or anything required, begin reading and downloading classic eBooks today in either PDF, ePub, or MOBI formats. If you are not sure which format will be best for your device, have no fear, Planet eBook will guide you through this process on its Devices page.

Limited Library of Titles – Perhaps the only shortcoming of this site is its selection. This is not the most sizeable collection of free eBooks in the world. And I have a feeling that it is meant to be nothing but a start to a much longer, continuously growing project in the years to come. But, hey, free books are free books, right? Who am I to complain? If my counting is correct (there is a 50/50 chance that it is…) it looks like there are 82 eBooks in total at the time of this review.

I would highly recommend this website to anyone who wants to brush up on the classics, sure, but I think that Planet eBook will be especially useful for college students looking to save a few bucks on required reading lists. Personally, I purchased many of these titles while in college; had I known that Planet eBook existed, I could have saved myself a bit of weekending cash.

Mobile and Desktop Experience

Fortunately, Planet eBook looks and functions just as effectively on my smartphone as it does on my computer. The site is perfectly optimized for mobile devices, which is great, as that is where tons of people prefer to do their eBook reading. And, of course, each book comes in whatever format is needed for whatever device you are using. Even simply access the book without downloading it by clicking its PDF link.

That being said, the site does have ads. I understand why this site would need ads … how else is it going to support itself? Unfortunately, though, these ads really take away from the extremely enjoyable nature of the site, especially when it comes to the mobile version.

Suggestions that I have for Planet eBook

I would love to see Planet eBook continue to grow into a massive library of public domain eBooks. I think that the collection that the site has at the moment is a great selection of titles, but this site has so much potential to become the go-to source on free eBooks if it wanted to for millions of people around the world. The library would need to expand first, though.

Secondly, I think that the site would benefit greatly from a dedicated in-site eReader. Something that would allow users to access, bookmark, and annotate their books right on the site. Maybe expanding to allow people to create and access accounts would be a good start to unlocking this potential.

Likes & Hates:
80+ free classic books
Easily download in PDF, ePub, or MOBI formats
Great site design
Mobile friendly
Library could be larger
No user features
Ads