Where to Find...?
I believe strongly in information being easily available, especially in this capitalist technological hellscape we've found ourselves in.
In regards to media, all sorts of subscription services being constantly shoved down our throats, along with copious amounts of fluff and ads mixed in -- if you're only interested in one "exclusive" series, what's the point in paying for a network's full streaming service? Besides this, even if you do buy something specific from a digital market place, there's no guarantee that you will actually maintain access to it! For example, movies you buy on Amazon can be randomly removed from your account due to licensing issues. Furthermore, DRM is widespread, preventing you from being able to use whatever media players you want or sharing with friends, like you'd easily be able to with physical media. What happens if you want simply want to switch apps? Or if, for some reason, your account is accidentally deleted? Or if the specific app you've been using this whole time suddenly decides to shut down??
There's also the issue of reputable news sites and research journals being kept behind paywalls. Like, yes, journalists and scientists, etc, should be fairly compensated for their work, but what do you think is bound to happen if the only easily accessible sites are absolute garbage? On social media, it's already common for people to just share headlines (which were literally made to catch your attention / be inflamatory) without bothering to look at the actual articles, y'know?
So, on this page, I'm going to share a few ways to bypass those sorts of things. Hope this helps and happy reading!
Table of Contents
The first place you look should be your local library! While it seems like, where I live at least, they mostly carry more popular stuff, most of the time you can request for them to either buy a copy of a specific book or arrange an interlibrary loan for you. You can use Worldcat to check if a certain book is available at a library near you. Many libraries may also partner with apps like Libby or Overdrive, allowing you to access ebooks and audiobooks, and other sorts of services, as well. Mine has a portal showcasing local musicians, for example. Be sure to look around their website and see what sorts of stuff they offer!
If you're looking for a physical copy to keep, look for local bookstores -- they'll always need support! If you live in the United States, this seems like a good resource, which also has filters for minority-owned stores, as well! Alternatively, there's also bookshop.org, which has a really good selection and also supports whatever bookstore you choose.
Still, especially with older (and older indie) publications, it can be extremely difficult to find legitimate copies, though. And if you do, they tend to go for an excessively high price -- I can't justify spending $60+ on a book! (Also, I'm kind of just a cheapskate, to begin with...) With this in mind, some other good sites to check for digital copies are:
- archive.org, which has archived websites as well as books of all ages and sorts (some may require you to log in to borrow and read)
- libgen (note: this link sends you to a page explaining how to use this site and recommended mirrors. the nature of this sort of site is a constant game of legal whack-a-mole, so be careful and make sure your adblock is up to date (uBlock is a good option)!)
- anna's archive (this site basically functions as an index of shadow libraries and all their offerings with multiple download options / backups, as well as links to open library / archive.org, if available. very neat -- pretty much a one stop shop!)
- this Reddit Wiki has other sites, but some might be out of date. and, as always, be careful!
News & Research Articles
- this browser app, BypassPaywalls, seems to work decently on the few news sites I've tried it on (namely the New York Times). you can also just Google, "how to bypass [insert site here] paywall reddit" and find something, if this app doesn't work or if you're on mobile.
- libgen also has scientific and literary articles (again, note: this link sends you to a page explaining how to use this site and recommended mirrors. the nature of this sort of site is a constant game of legal whack-a-mole, so be careful and make sure your adblock is up to date (uBlock is a good option)!)
- I've also had good luck with sites like academy.edu and PDF Drive.
- my go-to place to read manga / manhwa / webtoons / etc is MangaDex, but it occasionally goes down. in that case, this site has reputable links to other places with anime, manga, light novels, and... other related things. [insert puking emoji]
- this masterpost on Reddit will basically cover all your bases, honestly, but takes a bit of trial and error to see what sites you prefer, etc. it looks like it's no longer being maintained, but links should basically still be fine and it has advice and recommendations of sites to stay away from, as well