It's a trend few were expecting as the decade comes to a close: Sales of print books are on the rise, and independent bookstores are having a bit of a renaissance. But some of us still can't get enough of our e-books: Bring your whole personal library with you in one tiny device -- with the ability to read in the dark, to boot.
Amazon, of course, offers several ways to read: There are some (the Kindle Owners Lending Library and the Kindle First program) and the "Netflix for books" Kindle Unlimited subscription service, too. And for those of us who prefer a straight, no-strings-attached purchase, Amazon offers thousands of e-books at steep discounts every day and every month. The problem? It's pretty difficult to find the good stuff in a sea of chaff.
That's where our CNET bookworms come in. We've identified a handful of titles that we personally recommend below, all of which are available for less than $3 each. These are monthly selections for January, so today -- January 31 -- is likely the end of the line for these bargain prices. (We'll update with a new list for February.) The only caveats: These are generally older (sometimes really old) backlist titles. And yes, most -- but not all -- of these choices skew towards science fiction, fantasy and horror; we're geeks, after all.
We'll update this list as we see other recommendable deals pop up. Have a favorite you see on sale? Highlight it in the comments.
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Frozen in Time by Mitchell Zuckoff ($2)
What happens when the rescue mission needs a rescue mission for the rescue mission? That's effectively the plot of this amazing real-life WWII survival story, in which a B-17 crashes after searching for a downed cargo plane in the frozen tundra of 1940s Greenland -- and then the would-be rescuers of the B-17 crew also disappear. The resulting story is one of both tragedy and triumph, told in a dual narrative from the point of view of the downed aviators and the modern-day searchers looking to find the original crash site. -- John P. Falcone
Reamde by Neal Stephenson ($2)
If you've ever dreamed of a globe-trotting, gun-filled insane thriller blending online gaming worlds with viruses, digital currency conspiracies and lots of secret agents, Neal Stephenson's underrated Reamde is a solid cyberpunk B-side. Yes, it's too long (over 1,000 pages), and its unfocused third act is all but expected with a Stephenson book. But the 2011 book's ideas of terrorist cells, gold farming, hostage rescues and a gaming mogul in the middle are the closest Stephenson's come to a book-as-action-movie. It's part Cryptonomicon, part Snow Crash. And a semi-sequel involving consciousness-uploading, Fall, or Dodge in Hell, is arriving later this year. Notch this as a future beach read. -- Scott Stein
Rosemary's Baby: 50th Anniversary Edition ($2) by Ira Levin
The film is better known now, but this remains a great slice of that very particular genre of horror fiction called "New York Horror." More specifically, upper-middle-class, fancy apartment building New York Horror. I gotta be honest, for a classic six like Rosemary and her husband move into, I'd seriously consider playing parent to a demon. -- Dan Ackerman
I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream: Stories by Harlan Ellison ($1.20)
One of the great angry old men of sci-fi, Harlan Ellison excelled at two things -- holding grudges and writing short stories. This is perhaps his most famous collection, and an early warning that putting AI in charge of our armies probably isn't a good idea. Also great, and also $1.99, is his original teleplay for the Star Trek episode City on the Edge of Forever, but mostly for the novella-length introduction, where he mercilessly drags Gene Roddenberry over and over again over decades of slights, real and imagined. -- Dan Ackerman
Player of Games by Iain M. Banks ($3)
Ian Banks' superb Culture novels imagine a galactic pan-civilization in uneasy harmony, and the most human sect coexists with benevolent AI enablers that inhabit ships, avatars and worlds themselves and attempt to keep the peace. This politically tinged installment sends a Culture agent who specializes in gaming to a brutal civilization where ascendence and power rest upon the ability to beat all comers at Azad, a complex three-dimensional game of tactics. -- David Katzmaier
The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. LeGuin ($2.49)
Set in a near-future Portland, Oregon, where global warming, conflict in the Middle East and extreme poverty create an all-too-familiar dystopia, this sc-fi classic takes on the idea of a man whose dreams affect reality. Can harnessing those dreams to fight racism, feed the hungry and institute global peace actually improve the world? Or will it all go horribly wrong? Or is everything just a dream after all? -- David Katzmaier
This story was originally posted on January 25. We have removed books that are no longer discounted.
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