A lot of online book stores "sell" books in non-free proprietary formats with Digital Restrictions Management (DRM). DRM limits the readers and sometimes devices which can be used enjoy books and other literature you've bought. Books published in open formats like EBPUB can be read using a wide variety of free software programs and they can easily be copied or moved between devices.
There are many examples of books "sold" in a DRM-ridden formats that have been retroactively removed from the buyers devices without their consent. The American retailer Amazon's removal of George Orwell's books Animal Farm and 1984 without their customers knowledge or consent is one rather laughable example.
Free software lovers and users may find that they either can't read a book bought in an online bookstore at all or that the only way to read a book bought in a store is to install special proprietary software which is capable of opening files in the stores special DRM-ridden format. Luckily, there are alternatives.
There are a lot of smaller and less-known online stores who sell books in free formats. Here is a list of a few which offer e-books in acceptable formats at a reasonable price.
Please feel free to click the "edit source" button that's available on the desktop version of this site if you would like to recommend a DRM-free store which is not listed.
- Leanpub is a self-publishing platform where authors get 80% of the revenue generated by their books sales. It is a good place to pick up computer-related and technology-related books. It is NOT a great store if you are looking for novels, poetry and things of that nature.
- No Starch Press describes themselves as "the finest in geek entertainment". They sell computer-related books as well as some hardware/DIY guides. The e-book versions are only slightly cheaper than the paper-back versions of the books they offer.
- Smashwords have a wide variety of books in all areas. There's fiction, non-fiction, essays, plays, poetry and a lot more available in this sites rather huge catalog. Books are available in the free and easy-to-use EPUB, MOBI, PDF and RTF formats.
- Storybundle sells bundles of DRM.free e-books by indie authors in packages containing 5 . They have a "pay what you want" scheme with a $1 per book minimum (=minimum $5 for a bundle). Paying more for a bundle will give you additional "bonus books". Storybundle does not have a catalog you can browse and you can't just buy one book you'd like; you can take their currently offered "bundle" or not.
- Lektu has a wide variety of e-books available in DRM-free format. It's all Spanish.