For this Thing, I tried out Wattpad and Free Books.
I’m going to sound like a huge snob here, but the fact that this is mostly user-created content is a personal turnoff for me. I did create an account, and I downloaded a few stories, and I will read them. Reading a book that has gone through traditional publishing avenues is of course no guarantee of “quality” or promise that it will be “good,” but I do know that I have a completed product–stories can be posted here before they are finished. But on the other hand, having an online community where writers can post their work-in-progress and get feedback form readers and critiques from other writers is invaluable. So depending on what you want out of this, it might very well work.
On the technical side of things, I didn’t like the interface very much; it’s not very browseable; there are carousels with thumbnails in each section, but there are only a few titles displayed, and getting to the search option is quite clunky. The classification of books into categories is also somewhat idiosyncratic. Final verdict: It *looks* good, but doesn’t quite perform as desired.
This is much more up my alley, and I will probably keep it. I like how things are organized, the categories make sense to me, I can choose how results are displayed, and it’s much easier to find things. In short, it makes my OCD happy.
While I certainly can get public domain books through Amazon or Apple, they can be annoyingly difficult to track down; this has them already arranged nicely for me, ready to go. Yes, there are occasional ads, but they aren’t very intrusive. And since I need more books like I need a hole in my head, I will of course download a bunch of books. That I will read. Someday. Final verdict: for my reading needs, this is the clear winner.