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Boundbooks ([personal profile] boundbooks) wrote in [community profile] ebooks2011-06-20 01:10 pm

Free eBooks and Archive of Our Own: A Primer On How to Use AO3 for a Non-Fanfiction Reader

Archive of Our Own is an excellent source for free eBooks. Every single story posted on Archive of Our Own is free, DRM-free and is available for download in four formats: mobi, EPUB, PDF and HTML.

'But wait,' you say, 'Archive of Our Own is an archive for fanfiction. I don't read fanfiction!' Well, you are in luck, because Archive of Our Own has a very broad definition of fanfiction and thus a number of stories which may appeal to non-fanfiction readers. For example, do you like Regency romances or reinterpretations of fairy tales?

Try Lord Wolfe and the Ape-Leader (30887 words) by faviconwho_la_hoop: The sensible Flora Pilkington is delighted to be asked to accompany her cousin Emily, a wealthy heiress, on a sojourn to Bath – even if seventeen-year-old Emily is something of a ninny-hammer. However, when the dashing but mysterious Lord Wolfe rescues Emily from Terrible Peril, causing her to fall quite in love with him, Flora becomes deeply suspicious. Just who is this Lord Wolfe? Why does he persist in winking at Flora in such a deeply uncouth manner? Why does he refuse to attend all evening engagements? And what is the insufferable man's dark, awful secret? (For she is quite convinced that he has one.) Flora determines to find out, whatever the danger to her reputation...

Have you been enjoying (or enjoying panning) the recent zombie apocalypse fiction trend? Or perhaps you like your C. Wright Mills and Michel Foucault-centric sociology with a slice of humor?

Try Many Forms of Resistance (2323 words) by faviconamalnahurriyeh: No one had ever expected a critical theory conference to end so poorly. The worst you could usually expect was that someone would get wine thrown on them.

There are many short and longer stories in fandom categories at Archive of Our Own which, if they were to be published, would simply be considered fiction. You can browse the shelves of any US bookstore and find fictionalized history about real historical people, and re-interpretations of Shakespeare's plays, Jane Austen's works, or the Odyssey. You can also find all those categories at Archive of Our Own.

Some fandom categories at Archive of Our Own that might be of interest to a general reader: The Works of Jane Austen, Beauty and the Beast (Fairy Tale), Cyrano de Bergerac, William Shakespeare's Works, Inuit Mythology, Arts and Sciences Real Person Fiction, Lewis Carroll's Alice In Wonderland, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, HP Lovecraft's Works, Moby Dick by Herman Melville, The Iliad, The Mahabharata, Greek and Roman Mythology, The Odyssey, War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, Welsh Mythology and Journey to the West. You can look at Archive of Our Own's Fandoms page to see the full list of Fandom categories across various forms of media.

If you are new to the fanfiction community, keep in mind that stories can be far more unexpectedly creative (cross-overs are a popular form of fanfiction, where characters from one book meet characters from another) or sexually explicit than you might be used to. While you're browsing a fandom category, you can use the menu on the far right to filter your search results by things such as Rating and Characters (click the options to expand or contract drop-down menus).

As you look through the results, make good use of the four little colored boxes to the left of each story title; if you hover over each colored square, it will give you the rating of the story (similar to movie warnings, with possible ratings of General Audiences, Teen, Mature and Explicit), the type of relationships/orientations or 'Gen' if there are none, the warnings the author feels applies, and whether or not the work is complete. Clicking on any of the colored boxes will bring up a full symbols key. All stories have an 'info box' containing the same information at the top of their first page, as well. Underneath each story title will be a set of links which indicate what fandoms the story involves, and a following line of links which indicate what characters or themes appear. Clicking on the title of the story will take you to the story itself. Clicking on the author's name will take you to all works written by that author.

As you're browsing, if you find a story you'd like to download, the links to download Archive of Our Own stories can be found on the upper right-hand corner of every story's page, by clicking the 'Download' link.

Archive of Our Own is an un-moderated archive, which means anyone can post to it; there are no quality controls. If you're confused as to what might be good, a very, very rough guide is checking the number of comments, kudos, bookmarks and hits. People tend to leave comments and kudos if they enjoyed a story, bookmark if they want to be able to find a story later, and a high hit count usually implies that people are recommending the story and thus driving more readers to it. However, this is only a rough guide, since the bigger the fandom the more people will be interested in a particular story. Great stories in small fandoms get less attention, just the same way that there are some absolutely great published novels that no one (but yourself, inevitably) seems to have heard of before. Since everything is free, there's absolutely no cost to taking a chance on any story that catches your eye.

Archive of Our Own is well worth everyone's time because it's chock full of great free (and DRM-free) eBooks. Take a chance and try it as non-traditional publishing source for free eBooks; you might be pleasantly surprised. Have fun browsing and happy reading!

Note: If you've found some great stories on AO3 which you feel might appeal to someone who wouldn't consider themselves a fanfiction reader, please feel free to leave it in the comments! More recommendations are good for everyone.

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