Get virus protection. If you’re downloading anything from the internet you should have virus protection. It goes a long way towards protecting the life of your computer and everything on it.
Figure out what you want to read and keep a list. I personally use Amazon’s wishlist to keep track and search based upon what I have there. This will help you organize your study habits by collating like materials.
To find ebooks you can go to any place you go to say listen to some music before you decide whether or not to purchase it. It’s important that you use the correct titles and author names when searching for specific books and then good keywords when being general (i.e if I’m looking for books on slavery, ‘slavery’ is a good keyword, ‘black history’ would be a broader search and would probably yield more varied results; but, if you’re looking for books on slavery specifically, it’s not the best way to go). I generally avoid the specific search function tricks like putting quotation marks around my search query as I’ve found that uploaders may not be super precise with their spelling or wording of the title. This is going to be your best bet to find most books.
If using a search engine like Google, use the title of the book followed by the extension .pdf or the words ebook or download. Same thing about using searching function tricks applies here.
If you like the text support the author and spread knowledge.
Things to consider:
There are a lot of free ebook directories and sites. Most of them I’ve found through using stumbleupon’s book tag and word of mouth. Finding ebooks is 99% knowing where to look. Try Scribd (though they make you upload or charge a fee now), Knights Of Imhotep Library, Many Books, Project Gutenberg are all good places to start. You may not always find what you’re looking for.
Not all Pdfs are created equal. Some copies are great some are look like bad Xeroxes.
Consider where you are going to read these ebooks. If you don’t mind sitting front of a computer all day a straight .pdf file may work fine for you. If you’re like me and have an ereader it probably will be better for you to convert the file to a format more compatible to your ereader. Calibre is an excellent free program to organize and convert those files to ereader compatible format. Though once again be reminded results will vary some files convert better than others.
I read a lot of philosophy and social science which tends to be pretty available. I’ve found that the more popular and controversial a book or a topic is the higher the chance I’ll find the book or something informative on it. And even if it’s not that popular in your mind, search for it anyway; you might find something.
Make backups and don’t hesitate once you find something. It is way too easy to accidentally delete stuff or put it off until later and then end up having a hard time trying to find again because it’s been taken down or the rules of the site it was hosted on have changed.