But what if you could strip your investment down to only the cost of the reader? With most models in the $200 - $300 range, that's a fairly manageable cost -- especially with holiday wish-list time fast approaching.
But how is a law-abiding citizen to gain access to copyrighted e-books for free? The answer to this decidedly modern-day dilemma is so old-school, it's shocking.
Your local library! More than 5,000 public libraries across the country have already started lending out electronic books under the same (free!) policies that govern their hard-copy titles. The major advantage is that you don't actually have to go to the library to make the transaction -- just "check out" online, and most participating libraries will issue you a 2-week license to your chosen book.
Search for a participating library near you, or - if you're still not convinced that you can stand reading on a screen instead of good ol' paper - see what a digital reader display would look like.
Of course, Amazon's Kindle and its proprietary e-book format will likely be left out of the book-lending party, so if you're looking to maximize your access to the free stuff, go with one of the other players.