Now Five Million Strong and Growing!

Imagine the biggest brick and mortar bookstore in a major city like New York or Los Angeles. Huge, huh? Now picture this. If was an actual brick and mortar library or bookstore it would have to be at least 300 million square feet large in order to safely and comfortably hold all its customers at one time.

Celebrating the 5,000,000 Mark

That’s 150 times bigger than the Library of Congress and 200 times larger than the main building housing the Smithsonian Museum!

Why so big, you ask? Well, we are thrilled and proud to announce that this month the number of members has surpassed the five million mark! Plus that milestone came fast on the heels of reaching and being “liked” by more than half a million Facebook fans!

The real credit goes to our supporters and members, and everyone at is both grateful and humbled by the 5 million member achievement. We love our friends and fans from all over the globe, and consider them the most valuable players on our team!

16,000 VIP Members and Counting!

Just to hold the nearly 1,800 VIP members that join each month would require a store almost as large as the largest bookstore listed in the Guinness Book of World Records – which is a 155,000-square foot Barnes and Noble in NYC.

So far this year more than 16,000 people have signed up for our VIP program, which affords them lots of extra perks and features for a very affordable low fee. That nominal membership charge goes to help cover the cost of constantly expanding our library and adding innovations like downloadable audio books and multiple languages.

Of course ordinary libraries don’t stay open all the time the way does, either. Our customers can download their favorite books 24 hours a day, from any time zone in the world.

A Global Phenomenon and Multilingual Family

At a time when technology is fueling communication and helping to build social bridges across communities and cultures, that digital trend is also helping to ensure that literacy rates increase and everyone has improved access to great literature. has 3.75 million English-speaking members, plus a million members who prefer to read their books in Spanish and more than 225,000 Portuguese readers. Our members are very voracious readers, too, we are proud to say.

In fact, they download an overall total of more than 10,000 titles a day. Meanwhile the various websites in the galaxy grow by a combined 3,200 members every single day – which is nearly 100,000 every month.

VIP Membership

Our Free Standard membership lets anyone select up to five different titles per month, and to download them in PDF format. That is a great way to experience eBooks and to experiment with while exploring all that it has to offer.

But 60,000 of our subscribers and fans have become exclusive VIP members. That premium membership opportunity, which was first launched back in 2010, entitles them to downloads of unlimited titles, in all of the various formats that we provide.

That can be especially helpful if you are an avid, active reader who wants to read more than just five books a month. VIP membership is also great for those who like the portability and convenience of reading books in different formats across different kinds of electronic devices.

From Humble Beginnings to Global Outreach

To celebrate hitting that fantastic 5 million members benchmark, we are already planning the roll-out of additional languages. That will fuel even more growth around the world while it helps to ensure that more people in more places have access to free literature in their own languages.

Speaking of language, we want to thank our fans for helping us grow through word of mouth advertising, which is one of the keys to our success. People who love have been really generous and enthusiastic about spreading the word, and we really appreciate that vote of confidence and help in extending our outreach and Internet footprint.

When we started back in 2006, we did not have the advantage of legions of loyal supporters to encourage us and assist in our expansion. In fact, very few people in those days even believed that eBooks had a future. The majority of people, including many so-called experts, thought that electronic books would never really catch on and that the eBook phenomenon was just a passing trend.

Thankfully they were wrong. Those first few years were full of difficult challenges for us, but we persevered, and now we have 5,000,000 members to prove that eBooks are here to stay! Thank you all. It’s been and continues to be a real honor to serve you!

Nicolas Gremion, CEO Celebrates Half a Million Facebook Fans! now has over 500,000 Facebook fans! Thank you to everyone from around the world that’s joined us in making this such a fantastic community. Just to put that into perspective, half a million people is at least 100,000 more than the whole city of Liverpool, England – home of the Beatles! According to the Guinness Book of World Records the most fireworks ever used at once was also 500,000, during an event in Dubai, and when we found out we hit the half a million mark believe me, we felt like celebrating with that kind of fireworks display! launched its Facebook page back in late 2011, so we have risen in popularity very fast in just three years. Needless to say we are proud and happy to be so well-liked (no pun intended!). People are flocking to for a wide range of reading reasons. Some are fans because of all the free downloads of kids books, sci-fi, and adult fiction, whereas others join the community to read the latest magazines, how-to books, or our Academic collections.

Facilitating Collaboration with Our Customers

When people engage with us on Facebook and then share the news with others it helps to spread the word, and that generates more Facebook fans who, in turn, have the opportunity to discover for themselves. Many of them become loyal subscribers and customers, and having a dynamic presence on Facebook allows us to create a constant interactive dialog with our customers.

That’s a benefit to them because they can learn of breaking news, such as special sales or new product offerings. But it’s also a wonderful resource for us in terms of receiving invaluable up-to-the-minute customer feedback. We are a totally customer-focused business, so satisfying our customers is our first priority and hearing from them about ways to do a better job of that is a hugely important and valuable resource.

A classic illustration of that relationship with our customers is that it was a customer’s idea to put an entire library of books on a portable USB stick. Thanks to that helpful suggestion from a customer we recently started offering innovative USB stick libraries that let you carry 1,000 titles in your pocket. How cool is that?

Meet Karla, the Face of on Facebook

To commemorate the occasion we asked the administrator of our Facebook page, Karla Ruiz, to share some of her insights into her experience, since she is constantly in touch with the Free-eBooks digital media universe and the multitudes of Facebook fans that values so much.

“I’m always busy,” she admitted. “All day I’m thinking about what to post, how to post it, and when to put it up on our Facebook pages. It is a challenge for me, but at the same time I have so much fun.”
Every single day she posts two status updates on each all our social media pages. She has to always come up with interesting visuals and written messages, too, to keep the level of engagement high and to keep everyone entertained and informed. She wants to please ALL of our fans, and with so many of them – each with their own unique perspective and individual preferences when it comes to books – that can be a lot harder than it might seem.

“Facebook is full of corporate pages offering the same thing,” she points out, “and there are thousands of people from many countries with many different tastes. So I have to find a way to keep giving them quality posts they’ll like and share.”

Attention-Getting Posts

So what’s her secret? “There is a saying that less is more,” she says, “and based on my humble experience, I believe that big images with a short, quick-read text are the most shared posts. Messages that catch your attention in a way you hit ‘share’ before you can even realize you did.”

As examples she showed us some of her posts where large and impossible to miss, eye-catching graphics where used. Superimposed are insightful quotes or phrases. (Here are two great examples: ,

From Insecurity to Confidence – Plus Half a Million FB Friends!

“When I first became an administrator I was really concerned about meeting the expectations of the job,” she acknowledges. “I was insecure. But thankfully I got help and many ideas from my coworkers. Some of them still send me links, images, and content I can use to prepare new posts.”

Through it all she has learned that Facebook is definitely a proven, powerful communication tool. That means communicating across three different languages, too, since our half a million fans are divided amongst English, Spanish, and Portuguese Facebook pages.

Oh, yeah, and she has also discovered that people all over the world really do love to read, and they are totally hooked on electronic books! So what do you think about the evolution of the Facebook presence and constantly expanding community? Have you been a follower and fan since the early days? We’d love to hear from you!

Will Amazon and Hachette Bury the Hatchet? The ongoing saga and what it means for you, the reader.

Many consumers as well as investors are still wondering what will become of the dispute between bookselling giant Amazon and the major e-book publishing company Hachette. The spat has created some great drama and has plot twists you might expect to find in a thriller novel. As you may recall, the initial disagreement between the former business partners occurred when Amazon and Hachette reached an impasse in their negotiations regarding prices of Hachette books. Hachette wanted to reserve pricing control and set its own amounts, whereas Amazon – which is known for selling deeply discounted books – said it would sell the majority of the titles for no more than $10 per book.

Why the Media Calls it a Tale of “David vs. Goliath”

Amazon has unprecedented clout and power in the industry, because it has the most customers. Meanwhile Amazon is also the company that invented the Kindle Reader, so it is a genuine pioneer within the world of e-books. Were it not for the worldwide presence and size of Amazon e-books may not have gotten off to such a fast start and gained so much popularity so quickly. The company rang up sales of its popular Kindle e-reader last year to the tune of approximately $4 billion, and sold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of of e-books, too. Amazon, which takes in close to $75 billion in total revenues, also makes very large profit margins on the sale of e-books, so it tends to market them very aggressively.

Hachette, by contrast, is the subsidiary of a French company that made less than $10 billion last year. That’s pretty small potatoes compared to Amazon, so the publisher does not really have the ability to fight back against Amazon’s pricing policies very effectively. Because it has so much credibility and influence, Amazon usually does whatever it wants in terms of pricing policies and if its trading partners don’t like it, Amazon simply cuts them out of the loop.

Battle Tactics and Lines in the Sand

Not surprisingly, after talks with Hachette broke down, Amazon put even more pressure on Hachette by listing many of its pre-orders for printed hard-copy titles as “unavailable.” Normally if a book has not yet been released, you can pre-order it on Amazon and it will ship to you on the release date. But by categorizing these Hachette titles as unavailable, Amazon basically said it was not going to carry them in its inventory. Making the strategy feel even more hostile toward Hachette, Amazon even took down some of the promotion pages for books supplied by Hachette.

In its defense, Amazon stated that it was trying to side with the consumer by offering the most affordable prices. Authors tended to disagree, because their royalty checks shrink when book prices fall or when books don’t even get marketed and sold. So almost 1,000 authors, including luminaries like J.K. Rowling and Stephan King – bought an expensive ad which they ran, criticizing Amazon’s tactic of playing hardball with publishers.

Apple Joins the Fray, but So Do the Feds

Publishers have banded together, though, with companies like Simon & Schuster and Penguin teaming-up with other publishers including Hachette and going to Apple and its Cupertino venture with their business. They worked out a deal with Apple, which is one of the biggest and richest companies on earth and perfectly capable of going toe-to-toe with Amazon. Apple received a hefty commission on books sold but let the publishing maintain pricing control.

But the plot thickens. There are consumer protection and anti-monopoly laws designed to prevent companies from working with their own competitors to raise prices. So when the United States Department of Justice got wind of the arrangement, authorities charged Apple and the group of publishers with illegal conspiracy to manipulate prices. Sure enough, a judge said that the publishing group and Apple had to cancel their agreement and go back to the drawing board. Once again, Amazon had come out victorious.

The Bottom Line for Consumers

Where does that leave us? Amazon says it is willing to negotiate, but has been firm so far about wanting to keep its retail prices for most e-books under $10. Hachette has dug in its heels and refused to go along with that plan. Hachette markets about 5,000 or more books on Amazon, and while publishers and authors generally side with Hachette, lots of others agree with Amazon. The situation will probably eventually get resolved, however, because both companies want to make money – despite all the posturing, politics, and controversy. As far as the end-user consumer or e-book reader is concerned, most of this is a lot of bluster and noise that does not really directly impact their reading choices and buying habits. The real stakeholders in the debate are authors and publishers.

Books are still available, in other words, and when they are available as e-books on Amazon their prices are very inexpensive. Delivery of products through Amazon may be interrupted and pre-ordering may not be possible for some titles that belong to Hachette, of course, but you can also purchase them somewhere else. You can also enjoy libraries full of e-books free of charge, or at deeply discounted prices that let you have access to dozens of books for what you would normally have to pay for just two or three, by browsing the titles at and

E-books and Younger Readers: Questions and answers for concerned parents

Many parents want to introduce their children to electronic devices, including e-readers, but they first want to gain as much understanding as possible to ensure they make wise, healthy decisions. One of the big questions is whether or not e-readers have an advantage over traditional books in terms of boosting literacy rates. Many schools are beginning to use e-readers in the classroom, for instance, while parents are downloading apps that claim to accelerate reading skills for pre-schoolers. So let’s look at some of the information that sheds light on the value of e-books for young students as compared to the benefits of traditional print publications.

The e-Book Added Advantage

The technology is too new for studies of it to provide conclusive evidence. But what is known for a fact is that e-readers, unlike traditional books, offer the young reader a multi-media experience. So even if a child is reading alone, without the help of a teacher or parent, e-books provide them with the option to receive both visual and auditory cues to guide their learning.

If a child doesn’t understand a word, for instance, a digital platform may offer ways to use a touch pad or other means to instantly access a definition, a list of synonyms, or a recorded voice teaching how to pronounce the word. There may also be music or animation involved to help keep the child readers engaged and interested, and to make reading a multidimensional play activity. The University of Akron’s Center for Literacy has conducted studies, for instance, that indicate that animation and audio in e-books may help kids remember and identify words.

e-Reader Educational Apps

Another value-add for e-readers versus traditional books is that there are increasing numbers of educational apps coming to market that are designed to enhance reading level performance. Some take the form of interactive games that require players to read, and they give positive reinforcement by rewarding the children who play them with points or other kinds of encouragement.

Then there are apps that are intended to help students learn to read faster, and there is anecdotal evidence that e-readers can make it much easier to learn a foreign language. Part of the reason may be that e-readers have the capability to interactively assist the reader by highlighting words that the student may be have difficulty learning.

An Innovative Alternative

Youngsters also need to learn the fine motor skills needed to use digital technology, of course, and e-book reading is a healthy, educational, fun way for them to develop that ability. Meanwhile research indicates that students who suffer from dyslexia can benefit from e-reader formatting options such as the ability to adjust the font and make it larger.

Earlier this month we cited the expertise of Dr. Andrew Siensnnop at Tufts Hospital for Children. He is a general pediatrician and Assistant Professor at the Tufts University School of Medicine who was interviewed recently by Boston Magazine on the subject of digital technology and children’s eye health. He weighed-in on the same topic, saying that the use of e-readers with enlarged font improves both the speed and the accuracy of comprehension for high school students who are dyslexic.

The Popularity of e-Books for Kids

Taking these various points into consideration, it may be no surprise that e-books are popular with kids. A recent study shows that the percentage of children who have read an e-book has increased nearly 50 percent within the past four years. The Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group also reveal that in 2011 e-books for kids and teens became the fastest-growing segment of the e-book market.

Back to School with e-Books: Are they healthy for children?

Kids everywhere are heading back to school this month, and many of them are armed with digital technology, including e-books and e-readers. But parents and educators sometimes wonder if staring at an electronic screen instead of a traditional book may cause undue strain on the eyes of youngsters.

Because the popular technology is still relatively new, there are not yet sufficient studies or research results to answer all of the questions or satisfy everyone’s e-book curiosity. But there are some informed conclusions that can be reached with help from a pediatrician who was interviewed last year about this intriguing and somewhat controversial topic.

A reporter for Boston Magazine put forth questions about whether or not e-readers were a risk to children’s health, in an interview with Dr. Andrew Siensnnop at Tufts Hospital for Children. Dr. Siensnnop specializes in general pediatric and adolescent medicine and is also an Assistant Professor at the Tufts University School of Medicine.

Interacting with Electronic Screens

  • Citing clinical research, Dr. Siensnnop says that there is no evidence that using an e-reader in the appropriate way causes any physical alteration of a child’s eyes or any kind of eye damage.
  • As might be expected, however, children’s eyes are affected by the level of illumination in the room when reading. Another factor that can have an impact is the amount of uninterrupted time spent reading.
  • He says that there are two things that often contribute to strained eyes. One is focusing for a long time without giving your eyes a rest or a chance to look somewhere else. The other is using poor lighting while reading.
  • So it is recommended that children read their e-books and their traditional printed books in a well-lit environment and that they take regular breaks to rest their eyes. One good technique for resting the eyes, for instance, is to pause and look off into the distance to give the eyes a change of focus.

Meanwhile, Dr. Siensnnop points out that most eye strain is only temporary. Even if a child experiences it after reading a printed book, using an e-book reader, or playing on a computer then after sufficient time away from that task the symptoms should subside.

Reading Comprehension vs. Technical Mastery

Whether the child is using some other kind of digital device like a laptop or is using an e-reader, the experience is virtually the same, says Dr. Siensnnop. But he also makes a keen observation by emphasizing that when a child is reading with an e-book, there are two distinct learning curves going on at the same time.

On the one hand the child is learning to read, development comprehension skills, and everything else that goes into the reading process. But if the child is young they are also trying to learn how to physically operate the technology. They are becoming adept at working a digital device.

So Dr. Siensnnop says that during these learning sessions parents and teachers may wind up spending more time focused on showing the child how to use the device, and less time helping them with actual reading skills It’s important, he reminds us, to not neglect reading and reading comprehension in the process.

A Useful Recommendation

He concluded his interview with a good suggestion. Dr. Siensnnop thinks that young children just learning to read should not be introduced to digital reading all at once, but gradually. As the child increases in literacy using traditional printed books, gradually introduce them to electronic books. Allow them a chance to make the shift incrementally, so that they become adept at navigating both worlds – the traditional and the digital.