boundbooks: A colorful illustration of a blue octopus reading a book, while sitting next to a stack of books and a tea cup. (books: octopus reads)
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.
holyschist: Image of a medieval crocodile from Herodotus, eating a person, with the caption "om nom nom" (Default)

[personal profile] holyschist 2011-06-20 07:20 pm (UTC)(link)
I believe some people have had problems with AO3's epub exporter and have solved them by running exported epub files through Calibre to "convert" them to epub. I don't know if this issue has been solved, though.

Didn't someone a while back have some nice Calibre settings for AO3 files?

[personal profile] fides 2011-06-20 08:17 pm (UTC)(link)
Depending which problems they had it might well have been fixed.

The ePub code has been improved/upgraded more than a few times as the archive has been developed. I think it still occasionally has problems with very large stories or stories with lots of embedded images/media (although I haven't tried either of those again recently) but I download ePubs from there on a very regular basis and haven't hit a problem recently.
holyschist: Image of a medieval crocodile from Herodotus, eating a person, with the caption "om nom nom" (Default)

[personal profile] holyschist 2011-06-20 08:26 pm (UTC)(link)
I vaguely recall the problem was mostly with large stories, because AO3 didn't break the files into small enough chunks for some ereaders or something. It's good to know that's fixed.

[personal profile] fides 2011-06-20 08:33 pm (UTC)(link)
The large story problem might still exist but I do know that they have made a number of improvements since I last time I hit a rash of stories with problems (although possibly luck has just been on my side or I haven't downloaded anything really long recently).
cesy: "Cesy" - An old-fashioned quill and ink (Default)

[personal profile] cesy 2011-06-20 08:52 pm (UTC)(link)
The issue with certain readers being unable to handle stories over a certain size hasn't been fixed yet, to my knowledge - from what I remember, there was an ongoing debate over whether it's better to split stories for everyone (annoying the people with readers which can cope with the whole story), keep them in one for everyone (annoying the people with readers which can't), or add another option (needs UI design), and it got stalled.

(Disclaimer: I am an AO3 committee member, but this is not an official statement, just my vague recollections.)
zooey_glass: (OTW: AO3 logo)

[personal profile] zooey_glass 2011-06-20 09:39 pm (UTC)(link)
Yes, the problem is with Sony ereaders (and possibly others which have limits on the part sizes of files), which choke on files over a certain size. Calibre conversion is an easy fix for this.

It's also worth noting that there's a bug at the moment which causes 500 errors to appear when you try to download a story (not all the time, but not infrequently). Hitting refresh or using the back button then trying again will let you download without any problem.

Zooey, also a committee member speaking on an unofficial basis, but with slightly more certainty about the file size issue since it affects me!
elf: Quote: She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain (Fond of Books)

[personal profile] elf 2011-06-20 09:52 pm (UTC)(link)
The epubs themselves can be any size; it's that Sonys need the internal pieces to be no bigger than 300kb. A lot of commercial epub productions deal with this by setting up one file per chapter; that keeps the splits from being noticeable to the reader.

Ideally, it should automatically split stories into separate HTML files per chapter; that makes them load better on pretty much everything, and makes it easy to give page breaks at chapter breaks. (While non-Sony readers don't need the smaller filesizes, they can still slow down on longer ebooks--the program's not always happy with a single-piece 800kb ebook; the software runs smoother if it's in chapter sections.) But that's a substantial bit of coding hassle.

[personal profile] jaws9760 2012-03-17 05:36 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm having the opposite issue. I would dearly love to be able to download an entire story into a single file.
elf: Computer chip with location dot (You Are Here)

[personal profile] elf 2012-03-17 06:27 pm (UTC)(link)
You could view page source, and copy & paste the main body text into an HTML file?

What's the value of a single large html page inside an epub?
amalthia: (Default)

[personal profile] amalthia 2011-06-21 06:31 am (UTC)(link)
These are my Calibre css override settings when I download fic from the A03. :)

body { margin: 0; }
a {text-decoration: none; color: black;}
a [href] {text-decoration: none; color: black;}
p {margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt; padding: 0pt; text-indent: 15pt; text-align: justify;}
h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, h6 { text-align: center; padding-bottom: 10pt;}
yourlibrarian: Dean ampersand Sam (SPN-Dean&Sam-sweet_bitches)

[personal profile] yourlibrarian 2011-06-20 08:55 pm (UTC)(link)
Useful post, thanks for making it.
beatrice_otter: Elizabeth Bennet reads (Reading)

[personal profile] beatrice_otter 2011-06-20 09:11 pm (UTC)(link)
AO3 recs for the non-fanficcer (all are short stories unless otherwise noted):

Commonplaces. Sherlock Holmes, Irene Adler's point of view post-Reichenbach. Only to be adored was, in the end, nothing; to be adored by someone worthy, everything.

Spider's Web. Greek mythology. Odysseus thinks that it was all his own idea. Penelope knows better.

An Inside Look At A Main Line Society Apocalypse. The Philadelphia Story ends with a wedding. What if it picked up again with a ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE?

Climbing Mount Kunlun. Chinese mythology, novelette. "Not all over the table, venerable sir!" cried Xiao Zhen, but it was already too late.

An Ink-Stained Year. Pride and Prejudice, novella. The decidedly un-epic courtship of Caroline Bingley and Colonel Fitzwilliam.

Older and Wiser. The Sound of Music. Rolfe at war.

Sam in Casablanca. Casablanca. No matter how far he travels, Sam finds the pull of Casablanca hard to escape. Maybe it's because Rick left him there.

The End Is Where We Start From. Pride and Prejudice, novel. Alternate universe (i.e. something happened much differently than in the book). The death of Elizabeth’s husband upends her world, and forces her to confront her past. In doing so, she has to come to terms with the fact that making amends with her estranged family might bring her back into the sphere of a man she thought she had long forgotten.
beatrice_otter: Elizabeth Bennet reads (Reading)

[personal profile] beatrice_otter 2011-06-22 01:16 am (UTC)(link)
You're welcome!

herve leger

(Anonymous) 2011-12-06 07:46 am (UTC)(link)
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holyschist: Image of a medieval crocodile from Herodotus, eating a person, with the caption "om nom nom" (Default)

[personal profile] holyschist 2011-06-21 03:19 am (UTC)(link)
And here are some recs for the nonfanfiction-reader:

四十, by trascendenza (19500 words), based primarily on Chinese mythology with some subtle references to Firefly. Amazing story. The one drawback is that most (all?) ereaders do not handle hanzi, at least not without some serious hacking (I have not figure out how to do this on my Sony, if it's even possible).

Rosemary for Remembrance, by gehayi (11170 words), an amazing subversive feminist reimagining of Hamlet in space.
dragonfly: stained glass dragonfly in iridescent colors (My icon (really))

[personal profile] dragonfly 2011-06-21 05:36 am (UTC)(link)
What a great post! Thanks for thinking of this.
cathepsut: (Hugh drag)

[personal profile] cathepsut 2011-06-21 06:36 am (UTC)(link)
I do read fanfiction and I occassionally get something from AoOO, but I never realised that there's a download link. D-oh! Thanks for pointing that out...
rebecca2525: Abby Sciuto from NCIS with the word "geek" (Default)

[personal profile] rebecca2525 2011-06-22 08:20 am (UTC)(link)
Three short stories based on songs and a children's book:

Sweet Caroline (2597 words) by faviconmjules
Fandom: Son of a Preacher Man (Song)
Rating: General Audiences
Warning: Author Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Characters: Billy Ray (Son of a Preacher Man), Narrator (Son of a Preacher Man)
Summary: A stomach full of fireflies, a house full of secrets.>

Down By The Schoolyard (1243 words) by faviconDelilah_Joy
Fandom: Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard (Song)
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warning: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Narrator/Julio
Summary: Well, the Mama Pajama rolled out of bed, and she ran to the police station...

Goodnight Room (2825 words) by faviconSkogkatt
Fandom: Goodnight Moon - Margaret Wise Brown
Rating: General Audiences
Warning: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: Bunny (Goodnight Moon)
Summary: Bunnies ... in ... SPAAAAAAAACE!


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