Wowio – Download Kurt Vonnegut’s Books for Free

I discovered via the entertainment blog Pop Candy yesterday that there is a site called Wowio that allows you to download books legally for free. Honestly, it’s completely free and legal. They are paying the publishers using advertising, which for the book I downloaded was minimal. Right now this is only available to United States residents because of copyright laws, but hopefully that will change. I wrote about this today at Nerd Zapper but with a technology twist. I thought I’d post it here for those of you who don’t read that site, plus I’m going to take a slightly different angle here.

Anyhow, the first book I downloaded was Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I have been wanting to read this since he passed away earlier this year, and was so happy to find it for free. The book downloads as a .pdf file, so I have to read it at the computer rather than in bed where I normally read, but it’s free, so whatever. Maybe someday I’ll be able to afford an e-book reader.

I’m already enjoying Slaughterhouse-Five. There was a piece in there that really hit home with me yesterday, as I contemplated the hearings with General Petraeus, knowing we will be in Iraq for at least another year and no one is going to do a damn thing to change that fact. Oh, and don’t think it was coincidence they held the hearings on September 11th.

Anyhow, here is the excerpt from the book that really struck a nerve with me (this is a conversation between the narrator and a “movie-maker” named Harrison Star:

“Is it an anti-war book?”

“Yes,” I said. “I guess.”

“You know what I say to people when I hear they’re writing anti-war books?”

“No. What do you say, Harrison Starr?”

“I say, ‘Why don’t you write an anti-glacier book instead?'”

What he meant, of course, was that there would always be wars, that they were as easy to stop as glaciers. I believe that too.

Anyhow, that was written in 1969 and is as true today as it was then and will surely be 100 years from now. Depressing, but true.

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7 thoughts on “Wowio – Download Kurt Vonnegut’s Books for Free

  1. How do you find reading Vonnegut off the computer? Aesthetically how does it compare to holding a book in your hands? And why read SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE off the computer when you could get a cheap copy from most used book stores? I can understand why someone would prefer to read some hard-to-find book on a screen (some book only available in a small edition or held in private collections) but if I can lay my hands on a title, I’ll read the “dead tree” version every time.

  2. Cliff – reading on a computer screen doesn’t hold a candle to reading from a book but again it is free and there for the taking. If I like it, I’ll go ahead and buy a copy. Plus, I can read it at work on my lunch hour without lugging the book back and forth from home.

  3. That site looks amazing! So many great books to download for free… it’s a shame I can’t read any of them, maybe one day they’ll allow people outside the US to download the books too.

  4. Once I read about this free-dowload site, I rushed there and within a moment, I was surfing among available books.

    The same happened to me as to Soph 😦
    I think knowledge must be spread and not witheld.
    One day it will be available perhaps throughout the world.

  5. Pingback: 2010 in review « The Struggling Writer

  6. As a writer, I was trying to get a handle on who is currently still reading books, either ebooks, print books. I noticed that if you ever watch Cspan- book channel everybody in the audience for reading books is about 70 years old to ninety. There are very few younger folks bothering to show up. In used books stores mainly a few 20-something women buying books. In the future will anybody be reading books or just staring at pictures of themselves, friends and tap dancing cats? Now, excuse me while start training my cats to tap dance, and erase my latest attempts at short story writing. SINCERELY, WILY GEIST, Kilgore Trosky Trout

    • I hear ya. I will say that people are reading words now more than ever. We spend our lives reading words on a computer screen. That isn’t books, however.

      I can speak for my kids, though. My daughter is 7 and an avid reader. Her mother and I made sure of that.

      Good luck with the cat training. I’ll make sure to watch for your video 🙂

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