If you want to read books online, you have several options.
Google recently announced a new deal with several authors and publishers to increase the available digital library. Although it remains to be seen how this will affect users from outside of the United States (international publishing rights will still be a speed bump for people accessing Google Book Search from outside the US).
For now though, this is still a great resource for books if you live in Japan and don’t mind reading things online… a simple search of “Japan” in the Google Search Book with the “Books Showing” pull down menu set to “Full View Only” still gives a lot of reading material including Nitobe’s “Bushido”, books such as “In Ghostly Japan” by Lafcadio Hearn, and studies such as Joanna Weschler’s “Prison Conditions in Japan”.
Of course, all of the classics that are no longer under copyright can be found here, and also on the shelves of the Gutenberg Project.
The free audiobooks online I mention in the title is related to Project Gutenberg. You see, the classics that are out of copyright are available to be read, recorded, and distributed.
Volunteers at librivox.org do just that. They read the selections from the Gutenberg online library and make the recordings available as free audiobooks online.
If you are a teacher in Japan and need some nifty listening materials, if you have a long drive to and from work everyday, if you like to rock out to the spoken word, then librivox is for you. They have a great selection of books done, and are always looking for new volunteers to help out with unfinished books.
Librivox has a surprisingly good collection, and good quality readings as well.
Shall I call you Ishmael? Well here’s Moby Dick.
There are more than one version of the more popular books as well, so have a good time.
Just thought I’d throw this up there because English language books are so expensive here in Japan. Hopefully it’ll make someone’s commute a little more educational, or help somebody’s class planning.