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  • Print on Demand
    Self-publishing, ebooks, and more
    Self-publishing is a fast and fairly inexpensive way to get your manuscript between two covers and´┐Żout there. Aspiring and veteran authors alike are enjoying the benefits that Print on Demand (POD) provides. Even if it's just a good read that you're after, POD Web companies are helping to make the works of tomorrow's great authors easily available.

    For those passionate readers with little money (or space) to create a great library, there are literally thousands of free ebooks available—digital books you can store and read on your computer or handheld device. And for the avid collector searching for that rare or out-of-print book, the Web is probably the best place to track it down.

    Print on Demand Publishing
    At some point in time, just about everyone feels they have a great idea for a book brewing in them. Writing is hard enough work—but the process of getting an agent, enduring countless publishers' rejection letters, and eventually finding a willing publisher is, to say the least, pretty intimidating. In fact, for first-time writers the odds are against succeeding. One remedy is POD publishing.
    Print on Demand is a process by which publishers can make and sell as little as one copy of a book at a time, making it much less expensive than the requirements of traditional publishing. The result is affordable costs for first-time authors, or books that are a bit out of mainstream marketing. If this sounds like it's for you, the first thing to do is learn how to choose a Print on Demand publisher.

    Most POD publishers charge a set-up fee. Depending on what you're willing to spend to get started, publishers like Virtualbookworm and iUniverse provide some flexibility in their packages to help keep initial costs down in order for you to get the best possible royalties. Other POD publishers, like Lulu and CafePress, require no set-up fee at all. But no matter how it might look at the outset, no POD publisher's services are totally free, so do a reality check and learn all you can about their services before signing on.

    If you just want to preserve and not sell your work, another route to take is having your book—or just about any book, for that matter—recorded for your listening pleasure by OwnMade AudioBooks.

    Free ebooks
    Free ebooks are books that have come into the public domain, like classic works of literature, or sometimes works that have been given to the public, like technical or business manuals, and then made available as digital files. One of the best ways to read ebooks on your PC is with Microsoft Reader—free downloadable software from Microsoft, which also provides its own list of free ebooks available for the program.

    A particularly good site that's full of free ebooks for Microsoft Reader is hosted by the University of Virginia Library—which also includes Web (HTML) and Palm (handheld) versions of the ebooks. If you prefer to read your ebooks without Microsoft Reader, you can check out sites that are rich in plain text versions, like Project Gutenberg, or for PDF versions check out Planet PDF. But if Microsoft Reader is your preference and you can only find the book you want in a plain text version, you can convert the file with the free ReaderWorks software.

    Rare and Out-of-Print Book Finders
    For Old School book lovers searching for rare and out-of-print books, a good place to start is Bibliofind, a special service site from Amazon.com. Some Web sites, like ElephantBooks, actually stock hard-to-find and specialized books, which helps cut down on search time. Other sites, like Alibris, both stock and search through independent book store partners from all over the world.

    Last but not least, for when you don't need to buy or download anything—because you're just looking for an author or title, doesn't have to be a whole book, just a snippet, a poem, a tiny little quote maybe—get a quick but thorough literary fix with Bartleby.