Free eBooks for Your PC, iPhone, Kindle & Beyond

Today, we’re rolling out a sizable collection of Free eBooks, most of them classics, that features major works written by James Joyce, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jane Austen, Nietzsche and others. (We have even thrown in a little Paulo Coelho.) You’ll find 100+ free ebooks in total, and you can download the texts to your computer, smart phone (iPhone, Android, etc.) or Kindle, depending on the format you choose.  Our eBooks Primer overviews the different download options, so please give it a quick read over. Below, we’ve posted a quick sample from the new collection (plus a link to the entire list of Free eBooks). Feel free to offer feedback and share the list with friends. Down the road, you can always find this collection in the top navigation bar. Just looks for eBooks.

For more ebooks, please visit Free eBooks: Great Books on Your PC, iPhone, Kindle & Beyond

Note: Don’t forget to check in on Seth Harwood’s big Kindle experiment. What happens when you sell your book for 99 cents on the Kindle? Find out as the experiment unfolds. Story here.

10 Power Tools for Lifelong Learners


Every now and then, we like to remind readers of the audio/video resources that Open Culture makes available to lifelong learners. These collections are all free, and can be downloaded to your computers and mp3 players. When you add it all together, you will find thousands of hours of free educational content here from quality sources. If you have a chance, please
  • Free Audio Books:  This page contains a vast number of free audio books, including many classic works of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Jane Austen, Arthur Conan Doyle, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, Kafka, Shakespeare, Orwell and much more. You can download them all straight to your computer or mp3 player, then listen any time. (On a related note, you might want to see our list of Life-Changing Books, according to our readers.)
  • Free Courses from Major Universities: This list brings together over 250 free courses from leading universities, including Stanford, Yale, MIT, UC Berkeley, Oxford and beyond. Theses full-fledged courses range across the humanities, social sciences, and sciences, including computer science. The page is a gold mine for lifelong learners.
  • Learn Languages for Free: Spanish, English, Chinese & 37 Other Languages: Centralized in one place are free lessons that will teach you 37 languages. Spanish, French, Italian, Mandarin, English, Japanese, Russian, Dutch, even Finnish and Esperanto — they’re all free and portable.
  • Free eBooks: Here’s a new collection that features over 100 Free eBooks, most of them classics, that you can access on your PC, smart phone (including iPhone), and Kindle.
  • Ideas & Culture Programs/Podcasts:  In this one collection, we have gathered together some of the most intellectually stimulating programs available via podcast. The programs will keep you thinking and culturally up-to-date, as will our collection of science podcasts. All can be downloaded straight to your mp3 player.
  • The Best Intelligent Video Sites: Where can you go to find intelligent video? We have listed 46 web sites that feature a steady stream of intelligent content: documentaries, lectures, educational programming and much more.
  • Smart YouTube Collections: It’s hard to separate the wheat from the chaff on YouTube. But we have done it. Here you will find upwards of 100 YouTube channels that regularly serve up smart video content.
  • Our YouTube Picks: Over the past few years, we have featured several hundred YouTube videos on Open Culture. And some of the best ones we have brought together in our own YouTube channel. You can subscribe to this collection and watch new videos as we add them.
  • Great Classic Movies: Our new movie collection features landmark films for the student of cinema. Here, you’ll find numerous Chaplin films from the silent era, 12 Alfred Hitchcock films, and many other great works from the 1920s, 30, 40s and 50s. You’ll even find some great contemporary films as well. Many of the great American directors are represented here.
  • Open Culture iPhone App: A little something special for iPhone users. When you download our free iPhone app, you can take with you, wherever you go, many of the items listed above. Free Audio Books, Free University Courses, Free Language Lessons, Music and Science Podcasts, etc. Give it a try and tell a friend. Note, that per Apple’s requirements, you will need access to Wi-Fi.

Top Ten Reasons Why the Kindle Won’t Be an iPod for Books

A little sidebar to our previous post that wonders whether Amazon’s Kindle can revolutionize the book industry

1) When you buy an iPod, you can transfer all of your current music onto it. With Kindle you have to start buying all new books.

2) The paper-form book (aka “dead tree version”) is still the best technology for reading: fully portable, a nice thing to own and put on shelves, great for sharing, good in bed, at beach, etc. If you lose it or get it wet, no big deal—easily replaceable.

3) Music has constantly found new formats that improve on the old. Same for the iPod. It’s unquestionably better than that bigger, skipping CD player. Books haven’t been able to improve on the form for centuries.

4) Holding 100 albums in your hand is great. Holding 100 books? Not as much.

5) How often do you really go away for so long that you need 10+ books? (Bookstores are everywhere.)

6) Kindle is too expensive (see #1) and too big.

7) Books take much longer to consume, don’t work well in individual (shuffled) parts, and we often only read them once.

8.) Now that you can carry music on your phone, and the iPhone has bundled music, email, internet, and telephone in one small size, is anyone really willing to buy a bigger iPhone or Kindle just to read books on it?

9) Most of us spend more time listening to music than reading. We just do; it’s easier to do while we’re involved with other things.

10) Books: they’re better!

Seth Harwood podcasts his ideas on the publishing industry and his fiction for free at sethharwood.com. He is currently figuring out how publishers should best approach the new, emerging e-book market. Hear his ideas in his latest Hot Tub Cast™ and read them here soon. His first novel is JACK WAKES UP, in stores now.

Intelligent Video: The Top Cultural & Educational Video Sites


Looking for great cultural and educational video? Then you’ve come to the right place. Below, we have compiled a list of 46 sites that feature intelligent videos. This list was produced with the help of our faithful readers, and it will grow over time. If you find it useful, please share it as widely as you can. And if we’re missing good sites, please list them in the comments below.

ABC Documentaries: This site pulls together some of the best documentaries aired on ABC television in Australia.

Academic Earth: Some call this “the Hulu for education.” The idea is to take academic videos from top-notch universities and let users watch them with a very user-friendly interface. Though a young site, many users are giving it high marks.

Arkive.org: The site gathers together “the very best films and photographs of the world’s species into one centralised digital library, to create a unique audio-visual record of life on Earth.” A great site for naturalists and nature lovers.

Australian Screen Archive: The Australian National Film and Sound Archive provides free and worldwide access to over 1,000 film and television titles – a treasury of down-under video 100 years in the making.

Babelgum: Babelgum’s goal is to act as an international ‘glue’, bringing a huge range of professional and semi-professional content to a global audience – like a modern-day Tower of Babel. They’re also making an effort to get their content to smartphones. They have an iPhone app now, and apps for other phones on the horizon.

BestOnlineDocumentaries: As one reader describes it, “This site is a bit out of date and some of the links are broken, but it’s still a great compilation of online documentaries.” For more documentaries, you should also see Snagfilms mentioned below.

BigIdeas: This show, which comes out of Canada, “offers a variety of thought-provoking topics which range across politics, culture, economics, art history, science…. The program has introduced Ontario viewers to the impressive brainpower of people like Niall Ferguson on American empire, Daniel Libeskind on architecture, Robert Fisk on the Middle East, George Steiner on the demise of literacy, Camille Paglia on aesthetic education, Tariq Ramadan on being a Western Muslim, Noam Chomsky on U.S. politics, Leon Kass on dying, Janice Stein on accountability and governance.” See the full list of videos here.

BigThink: “Offers high quality video interviews and insight from the world’s most influential experts in business, entertainment, education, religion and media.” BigThink was founded partly with the help of Larry Summers, formerly the president of Harvard, now Obama’s right hand economic man.

Bloggingheads.TV: We had several readers highly recommend bloggingheads.tv. Here is how bloggingheads has been described elsewhere: “a political, world events, philosophy, and science video blog discussion site in which the participants take part in an active back and forth conversation via webcam which is then broadcast online to viewers.”

Channel N: Get brain & behavior videos with Sandra Kiume. Part of PsychCentral.

CultureCatch: CultureCatch.com has over 160 half-hour interviews with today’s seminal artists in film, theater, music and literature.  Here you’ll find in-depth interviews with smart culture individuals dissecting art, comedy, fashion, film, music, politics, television, theater, even cooking.

Edge.org Video:  Edge.org is run by John Brockman, literary agent to some of the most important science writers in the US and beyond. You’ll find videos featuring these thinkers on the Edge’s web site.

Europa Film Treasures: Thanks to Europa Film Treasures, you can spend hours looking back through an archive of European film. Theses films range from “comedy to science fiction, from westerns to animation, from erotic to ethnological movies.” Highly recommended by our readers.

Explore.org: A non-profit that showcases the good works of non-profits internationally. Lots of great educational topics from Tiananmen Square to Jerusalem to Orcas. The site itself hosts tons of film and photographs.

Folkstreams: A collection of short films and mini-documentaries on American roots culture, including music, folkart and traditional customs.

Fora.TV: A large site that gathers video from live events, lectures, and debates taking place at the world’s top universities, think tanks and conferences.

Forum Network: PBS and NPR have jointly launched the Forum Network where you will find free lectures online. I expect this to be a rich resource as time goes by.

Free Documentaries Online: The name says it all.

Global Oneness Project:  Global Oneness produces documentary films and interviews that are exploring our modern day struggles within the ecological, economical, and social systems and how these battles aren’t isolated but part of a interdependent whole. Features over 200 short films and interviews.

Hulu’s News & Information Channel: Within this channel, you’ll find some intelligent programs. It includes documentaries and biographies, science programs, news, and more. In the past, we pulled together a list of high-quality feature films available on Hulu. Catch it here. And know that Hulu unfortunately limits this programming to a US audience — a policy that really needs to change.

Intelligent Life on YouTube: Yours truly created a handy list of the intelligent video collections available on YouTube. Have a look and also see the list of our favorite individual YouTube videos.

Internet Archive – Feature Films: This archive of feature films contains some important classics from the 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s. We’ve featured ten good ones in a previous post.

Learner.org: Annenberg Media presents an impressive video collection that will appeal to lifelong learners and teachers. It includes a lot of high quality programming on American history, world literature and music, science and much more. Thanks Julie for the tip.

LinkTV:  “Global and national news, uncompromising documentaries, diverse cultural programs, connecting you to the world.”

Living Room Candidate: Television ads have changed our political system, and this site maintains more than 300 commercials from every presidential election since 1952.

Long Now Seminars: Stewart Brand’s Long Now Foundation presents monthly talks that provide a counterpoint to today’s “faster/cheaper” mind set and promote “slower/better” thinking. Theses talks given by prominent thinkers are hosted by FORA.TV.

MeaningofLife.TV: Sponsored by Slate, this site brings you “cosmic thinkers” on camera. Here, you’ll find talks by Karen Armstrong, Freeman Dyson, Stephen Pinker and others.

MITWorld: MIT World “hosts lots of inspiring talks by some of the most innovative thinkers and doers in town.” – Tony

Moving Image Collections: A window to the world’s moving images.

NFB.ca: NFB.ca is a web site where you can watch films produced by the National Film Board of Canada. Offers access to 100s of documentaries, animated films and trailers. You can also access this collection via a free iPhone app.

One World TV: A unique public platform for filmmakers, video journalists, NGOs and just about anyone with an interest in video and a concern for a better world.

Open Book TV: Open Book focuses on the writers and other storytellers living and working in a different spot on the planet each week.

PBS Video: Everyone knows that PBS regularly produces intelligent video. You can watch a good number of their original programs here.

PeoplesArchive: “Dedicated to collecting for posterity the stories of the great thinkers, creators, and achievers of our time.”

Pop!Tech Pop!Casts Videos: Kind of like TED, Pop!Tech features “a community of remarkable people, and an ongoing conversation about science, technology and the future of ideas.” Scroll down to the find their videos.

Psychlectures.com: Reader says: “Although this website doesn’t host video, it brings together all sorts of media (including courses) on the topic of psychology, neuroscience, and psychiatry, for those interested.”

Research Channel: Based out of the University of Washington, the ResearchChannel brings together content from leading research and academic institutions (see member list here), and distributes it to consumers mostly through satellite and cable, but also via the web. iTunesU is a fairly new distribution channel. And even newer is YouTube. (See their channel here.) Get more info on The Research Channel here.

ScholarSpot: A new web site that promises a “free university.” Site is live in beta. Stay tuned for more.

Science Network: As the title suggests, lots of good science here. You can start with this popular program, Beyond Belief, which we previously mentioned on this blog.

SnagFilms: SnagFilms “finds the world’s most compelling documentaries, whether from established heavyweights or first-time filmmakers, and makes them available to a wide audience.” You can watch full-length documentary films for free. Currently includes over 550 films. And, as one reader notes, “The best part … is you can give back to the charitable foundations behind each one of the documentaries.”

Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive: This online catalog “provides access to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive. The Archive serves as a comprehensive informational and archival resource worldwide for moving image materials pertaining to the Holocaust and related aspects of World War II. ”

TED Talks: Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world. The talks largely come from the big annual TED conference. And, hands down, this site is the most frequently recommended by our readers. You can find a handy spreadsheet listing every TED video here.

UbuWeb: Since 1996 this site has hosted a vast archive of online avant-garde media. You’ll find a large mp3 sound archive, alongside an extensive film/video collection that features work by such artists as Andy Warhol, Philip Glass, Allen Ginsberg and many others.

UChannel: Spearheaded by Princeton University, this video service presents talks on international/political affairs from academic institutions all over the world.

UCTV: Launched in January 2000, University of California Television (UCTV) is a non-commercial channel featuring 24/7 programming from throughout the University of California, the nation’s premier research university made up of ten campuses, three national labs and affiliated institutions.

UWTV: UWTV is an award-winning television channel brought to you by the University of Washington. Offers original, non-commercial educational programming — 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A unique educational resource, UWTV provides its audience with direct access to world-renowned scientists and researchers whose insights and discoveries are changing our world.

VideoActiveVideo Active presents a vast collection of television programmes and stills from audiovisual archives across Europe. It also provides articles and comparative analysis on European TV history.

VideoLectures.Net: Based in Eastern Europe, this site provides free access to high quality video lectures presented by distinguished scholars from many fields of science.

WGBH Video Lectures: “The WGBH video collections brings together talks from the world’s leading scientists, educators, policymakers, artists, and authors. Some pieces come from PBS, NPR, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and The Lowell Institute.”

YouTube hosts a number of intelligent properties worth giving your time to. Some key properties are:

  • YouTube Edu: Finally, YouTube gave us an easy way to separate the wheat from the chaff. Now you can easily watch videos from hundreds of universities worldwide. Includes a large number of free courses. More info here.
  • YouTube Screening Room: The Screening Room presents high quality, independent films to YouTube users and promises to roll out four new films every two weeks. More info here.
  • @Google Talks: Some of the world’s leading thinkers and political players make a point of speaking at Google. You can catch them all here.
  • Intelligent Video Collections: Over time we have created a long list of the smarter video collections available on YouTube. It now features close to 100 video channels. Have a look and let us know what we’re missing.

How I Sold My Book by Giving It Away

Today we’re featuring a piece by Seth Harwood, an innovative crime fiction writer who has used the tools of Web 2.0 to launch his writing career. Below, he gives you an inside look at how he went from podcasting his books to landing a book deal with Random House. If you want to learn more about how writers will increasingly build their careers, be sure to give this a read. Take it away Seth…

Before it ever hit print, my debut novel JACK WAKES UP was a free serialized audiobook.  And giving my crime fiction away for free turned out to be the key to becoming a published author—that last piece of the puzzle that eludes so many aspiring writers. 

How did it work? Well, I got my MFA from a prestigious writers’ workshop.  I got a dozen stories placed in literary journals.  In short, I was doing all the things “they” (the literary establishment) tell you you have to do in order to become a successful author.  And it wasn’t working.  Agents were saying nice things about my crime fiction, but weren’t willing to take me on as a client.  Eventually I started looking for another way to drive my own career and put my work in front of people. Having had a little success with a published story online—my friends could read it and I was hearing from strangers who liked it, two things that had never happened with the dozen stories I’d slaved to publish in literary journals—I could see that the web was the way to do this. But I couldn’t imagine anyone reading a novel online, or even on his or her computer. I did have an iPod though, and didn’t I listen to it all the time in the car and at the gym? Wasn’t I taking out books on CD from my local library for my drive to work? Sure I was. So when a friend showed me how he’d been using his iPod and a thing called podcasting to get free audiobooks from an unknown author named Scott Sigler, I knew I had to figure out how this was done.

Turns out that making MP3 files costs nothing. Distributing them costs me less than $10 a month, no matter how many episodes go out. Each week, I release a free episode—usually a couple of chapters—to thousands of subscribers. You can think of this as a throwback to two old forms of crime distribution: either the pulp magazines or the old-time radio plays that introduced detective adventures to early listeners on the radio. (more…)

How Do You Use Open Courses?

I was asked by a newspaper reporter today how people, like you, are using open university courses (such as those found in our collection of Free Courses). And the truth is, I’m not always sure. So I figured, why not put the question out there and ask you. Here it goes: How are you using these courses? Are you listening to (or watching) these courses purely for personal enrichment? Or are you spending time with these courses for professional reasons? Are you trying to boost your resume/career with these courses? Also, during this recession, are these courses suddenly more attractive? Or were they attractive to you all along? Lastly, what topics do you generally tend to focus on? History? Literature? Computer Science? Physics?

Ok, folks, give a hand and let me know your thoughts. Please feel free to write your thoughts in the comments below, or write us at mail [at] openculture.com.

Blogs & Podcasts for the Financial Crisis

There’s no doubt about it. We’re living in interesting times, as the Chinese curse goes, and they won’t be going away any time soon. Most of us can’t afford to ignore what’s happening here. So, below, I have highlighted a number of blogs and podcasts that help make intelligent sense of this economic debacle. Here they go…

  • Planet Money: NPR is doing a great job of covering the unwinding global economy. The Planet Money blog is a good read, and it includes an essential reading list. But the accompanying podcast is one that I follow regularly. It’s a must. And it’s generally entertaining. You can access it here:  iTunes – Rss FeedWeb Site. (Note: the last episode is not the best example of what it’s usually about.)
  • EconoTalk: EconTalk was voted “Best Podcast” in the 2008 Weblog Awards. Hosted by Russ Roberts (out of George Mason University), the show “features one-on-one discussions with an eclectic mix of authors, professors, Nobel Laureates, entrepreneurs, leaders of charities and businesses, and people on the street.” You can access the show via the following channels: iTunesRSS FeedWeb Site.
  • The Baseline Scenario: Dedicated to “explaining some of the key issues in the global economy and developing concrete policy proposals,” The Baseline Scenario is written, among others, by Simon Johnson, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, who is now a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Although relatively young, the blog has received a fair amount of acclaim as the financial crisis has unfolded. You may want to particularly check out their collection of content called Financial Crisis for Beginners.
  • Realtime Economic Issues Watch:  Here, senior fellows of the Peterson Institute for International Economics (a think tank based in Washington) “discuss and debate their responses to global economic and financial developments as they occur each day and offer insights that others might overlook.”  You will find some of the folks from the Peterson Institute also appearing on the podcasts and blogs mentioned elsewhere on this list. Find the RSS feed here.
  • Paul Krugman: A Princeton University economist, a Nobel Prize Winner, a New York Times op-ed writer, Paul Krugman is blogging the global financial and economic crisis daily. It’s an opinion that you can’t afford to take lightly. You’ll also want to see his newly released book, The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008.
  • Economists’ Forum: Run by the Financial Times (UK), this blog brings together a large number of economists who offer a running commentary on the state of the fragile economy. The Wall Street Journal has its own real time blog here.
  • NewsHour with Jim Lehrer: The PBS nightly news program almost always includes an informative segment dedicated to the financial news of the day. The coverage, which typically includes interviews with experts, is excellent. You can download the podcast here: iTunesFeedWeb Site
  • The Becker-Posner Blog: While not updated as frequently as Krugman’s blog, The Becker-Posner blog is a great place to read the thoughts of two Nobel prize winning economists (Gary Decker and Richard Posner) discuss the current economic crisis. Thanks Bryce for the tip.
  • This American Life: One of NPR’s beloved programs has offered some excellent coverage of the financial crisis. It started with a show called The Giant Pool of Money (May 2008), and it has since included a program called Another Frightening Show about the Economy (November 2008). Now there is a new one called Bad Bank, which explains what’s really happening in the trainwrecks that are banks. These programs were put together partly by members of the Planet Money podcast mentioned above.

Are we missing something good? Please let us know in the comments below…

The Educational Audio & Video Library

Every now and then, we like to remind those who subscribe to Open Culture via rss feed or email that our site hosts large collections of cultural and educational media. In total, these collections offer thousands of hours of enriching audio and video, and it’s all free. You can download most all of it straight to your computer, mp3 player or smartphone. To access these materials, simply bookmark this page, or visit our site. And if you would like to forward these resources to friends, or mention them on your own web site, we would certainly appreciate it.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.