Free books: basic statistics, evolution and origin of man

By Grant Jacobs 07/09/2011

It seems to be a season of free reading material.


Alison pointed us to Bones, Stones and Genes: the origin of modern humans, produced by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Statistics is important for everyone, not just scientists. Journalists and science writers included, for that matter. Free on-line is a multiple author effort headed by David Lane. You’ve no excuse now. This won’t make you an expert – it’s an introductory book aimed at those trying to get to grips with statistics. The little I have skimmed of it reads easily. There is a PDF copy (although apparently lagging behind the on-line version).

For the more geeky amongst us there is a recent take on evolution by Eugenie Koonin, The Logic of Chance: The Nature and Origin of Biological Evolution, can be obtained via Amazon. It’s free for Kindle users. If you don’t have Kindle, download a copy of Amazon’s Kindle reader software, install it, then register the application (it’ll want an Amazon user’s email address and password), then order the book (for $0) from Amazon. This one I’ll be digging into, especially as I’m keen on the role of (RNA) viruses in evolution.

I’m hoping to add to my personal library of print books in a couple of days in Dunedin’s annual 24-hour book sale. While rugby-heads will be watching the opening match of the Rugby World Cup, chances are fair that I’ll be head down browsing my way through the stacks…!

Then I need to find time to actually read

Readers are welcome–encouraged–to share other free reading they’ve found recently.

Other articles on Code for life:

Book sales, frumpy readers, and mental rotation of book titles

Science-y reading and open book thread

Expert Witness — new forensic science book

Printed books to become limited to up-market gifts?

0 Responses to “Free books: basic statistics, evolution and origin of man”

  • Thanks for the recommendations. Note that the “Logic Of Chance” Kindle book is currently coming up at US$42.86 and GB£26.43 on and respectively. No mention of free.

  • Hi Greg,

    It’s $0 here from where I am (New Zealand) – just checked.

    The offer may be regional. (I have to admit it’s a pet peeve of mine how some international sites don’t make it clear enough what nations can access the special, free postage, etc.)

  • oooooh. free and interesting E-book. I just got my Kindle 3G last week:) Timely post, Grant! Lol.

    And I’ve already gone and *bought* it for my Kindlle (which I’m on the verge of renaming “My Precioussssssss” – lol!)

    There’s an annual 24 hour book sale in Dunedin? Cool. That’s something to look forward to when we move your way (at the end of Nov). I’d be there when all the rugbyheads are going nuts, too:)

    p.s. I am already addicted to it.

  • Your precioussssssss huh? 🙂 LOL

    I’m stuck with a clunky old laptop…

    p.s. I am already addicted to it.

    At least books, or Kindles, can’t induce bizarre psychological symptoms or violent behaviour.

    There’s an annual 24 hour book sale in Dunedin? Cool. That’s something to look forward to

    They’re usually in late autumn or thereabouts, so you might not have to wait a full year either. This year it was delayed while they renovated the theatre.

    when we move your way

    Hey, drop me a note.

  • It seems there is a category of free Kindle books at (You can tell I’m new to this, right?) For example, these non-fiction books:,p_74:0-0&sort=reviewrank_authority

    Many (perhaps most) seem older works, e.g. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written by Herself by Harriet Ann Jacobs (no relation!) or Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography. I suspect these might also be on Project Gutenburg.

    Sorting by publication date (and selecting for science) brings up newer (but not new) ones, e.g. a CK-12 series – 21st Century Physics: A Compilation of Contemporary and Emerging Technologies, Advanced Probability and Statistics, etc., Darwiniana : Essays – Volume 02 by Thomas Henry Huxley and so on. Many don’t appear to have much to do with science, for whatever reason.

  • Oh yeah. I looked at the fiction, but not the non-fic so far. Also Project Gutenberg has a database of Ebooks for free download. i got the one for my Kindle, so all you have to do it search the list (which is huge) and click on the title, and it dwnloads right into your Kindle already in .mobi format. So great. That can be found here:

    Also, this blog is just fantastic for Kindle tips and things:) Grant, have you dwnloaded Amazon for PC? It’s what made me finally get a Kindle. Lol! Also, the Kindle I got (which was 130$US came with Wireless and free 3G all over the world and with the experimental browser it’s amazing).

  • ps. Will drop you a note for sure:) Steven’s teaching Econ at Otago now – he’s been going down every week. But, we didn’t want to leave so soon. I will really miss Welly.

    And I hope the book sale will be Nov sometime!

  • have you downloaded Amazon for PC?

    Sort of. I have a Mac 😉

    You’re doing a good job of marketing Kindles. Are you sure they aren’t hiring you? 🙂 (I like the sound of free 3G worldwide – that’s only for book downloads, right?)

    And I hope the book sale will be Nov sometime!

    Sorry to disappoint… – the 24-hour sale for this year is on this Friday (starting at 12noon, going on until 12noon Saturday). If they revert to the usual time of year, the next one ought to be in late autumn or thereabouts.

  • Forgot to say I’m seeing very mixed responses to initial forays into The Logic of Chance. Readers are welcome to share their opinions… (I won’t be able to get into it until at least next week, more likely in several weeks time…)

  • Lol! No, I am not a sneaky marketer:) I signed up with while in grad school in Seattle in 1995, which was when they started (and, living in Seattle, it’s all we heard about when it launched). It’s the best thing that ever happened to me, especially as a sci-fi/fantasy reader. I love bookstores, except I always noticed that there were far more male writers on the shelves in these genres than female writers. So, eventually, I came to depend on Amazon for my book needs. Now, it’s the best place to go for book for me, especially since we travel so much. And, I get them ordered to my friends and family in the states, and bring them back with me – Amazon marketplace is the bee’s knees as far as I’m concerned. I went into sticker shock when we moved here in 2002. Book prices are so incredibly expensive – even the second-hand ones. When we first got here, I could still ship a 60lb bag of books (literally by ship in 6weeks) from the US here for 22 bucks – that’s a lot of books. (That service is no longer, unfortunately.) So, I’m a huge fan of Amazon, and will always be. All those years of ordering and only one order has gone astray – and it was a marketplace book and Amazon refunded my money. I only have good things to say about them – and they always have the book I want. I pretty much shop for everything on Amazon. Lol! So, I’m all over the Kindle and the free 3G is a genius move on their part (you can’t YouTube or anything on the browser, because it’s still pretty basic so no Flash Player anything – but for browing, especially the mobile/touch versions of sites – I find it really cool for news sites, it’s just fine – besides my Kindle is for reading – lol!)

    Have you been on site called Better World Books? I’m a huge fan. They’re a great site, based in the states, with free shipping all over the world. They have tons of second-hand books as well as new ones. And, much of the money goes to literacy programs around the world. Even though I have a Kindle, I still love real books, and I just ordered eight books from them last week:) 50 bucks total US incl. shipping!

  • p.s. and free 3G worldwide is for getting online for Everything! i was writing a message on FB to a friend and reading news on the mobile version of The Independent on the bus on my way into town last night:) i’m telling you, it’s Awesome. totally. awesome. and you can get on wireless anywhere. when i’m at home, it’s connected to my home wireless:) there are services you pay for. like certain instances when you want to send personal documents to your Kindle by email. but, other than that, i can’t think of any:)

  • p.s.2 – also, no worries about formatting ebooks and stuff. you can turn pdf, doc, txt, rtf. files in to .mobi files to read on it. you just need the write software – also there are sites to do it for you. so, you have all kinds of options:) i also downloaded scrabble, and my favorite codebreaking quote puzzles – only 99 cents each from hee hee.

  • Michael Hart, founder of Project Gutenberg died this week,

    He’s left an impressive legacy.


    You’re a hard one to keep up with 🙂 I started using Amazon years ago, too (no way near as long as you), but have grown cynical of their shipping costs. BookDepository seems a better deal now, and there is the local For technical books there is also, too. Support the locals and all that…

    Amazon originally appealed to me for access to technical books or more obscure titles that I’d have to order via the bookstores or were very expensive here. (Computer programming references were well the order of $NZ100-130+; you can get these much cheaper overseas. Of course, you can now get them cheaper again as eBooks.) Amazon’s refund arrangement is very good. I once received a damaged copy and they promptly sent out a replacement.

    I haven’t seen Better World Books – how does it compare to BookDepository?

    If the 3G is free, can you turn your Kindle into a mobile phone, even if only for texts – ? 😉

  • i just saw your reply. i’m not on my own laptop (mine died), so i’m on my webmail, and since i can’t file things away in folders, my inbox is overflowing!

    i didn’t know anything about who was invovled in the Gutenberg Project. Michael Hart was a visionary.

    I just found a book on Kindle that was 40 bucks US hard copy, because it was out of print – and got the .mobi version for five dollars. eBooks are good for that. sources from libraries, second-hand bookstores, etc. so, they have quite a large pool of book providers providing very reasonably priced new books as well as cheaper second-hand books. they’re my default, along with Amazon now. is Book Depsitory for second-hand books as well as new books? the free worldwide shipping is awesome there. i haven’t used them as much as either Amazon or BD, so i can’t really compare…

    i don’t know about the mobile phone thing. lol! you can’t download Skype on it (that’s where i txt people from often if i’m at home). i do know that it doesn’t support Java and stuff, so it’s not like you can get on YouTube and watch videos. i do use it to post on FB and check my email when i want to and am away, though.

  • Hi eviltwit,

    Slow reply, sorry – busy updating my own website…

    Good point about the books that are out of print – I suppose eBooks are one way to extend the ‘print’ run.

    I don’t know if BookDepository does second-hand haven’t really looked! Haven’t bought anything from them either (yet!), just browsed the site and heard others suggest it.

    I’ve also used fishpond, a NZ on-line seller. Generally they’ve been good, but the latest order would be a comedy of error if it didn’t annoy me. Ordered a computing textbook, supplier didn’t respond within fishpond’s set time, fishpond did some sort of automatic “wake up” and the book (supposedly) shipped… but didn’t arrive. I requested a re-order; the site accepted this only a week or so later to somehow mutate this into a cancellation, which I then had to cancel and reinstate as a re-order. At this rate it’s going to take months to get the book! That said, their other orders have been OK (it may be the supplier, etc.)

  • [Trying again, sciblog didn’t like my last attempt!]

    Carl Zimmer is leading a discussion on eBooks and science:

    Click on livestreamed: (I can’t follow this well as there is no light on people’s faces and the sound is a bit hard for me to follow, but I hope other’s may enjoy it – point it, I can’t say I have judged the content!)