In many countries, including the USA and European Union countries, the copyright terms expire 70 years after the death of the author. After that time a work enters the public domain. It means that it becomes fully available for everyone and can be used freely for any purpose.
Authors entering the public domain in 2012 are, among others, James Joyce and Virginia Woolf.
Most books which enter the public domain become available as free ebooks. There are two ways to add and read them on a Kindle.
1. Browse public domain books in Kindle Store
The most convenient way is to get a public domain book via Kindle Store. You can get it in seconds to your Kindle.
If you want to see all public domain titles, use “public domain” as a search phrase. Here is a list of most relevant results. There are about 22,000 titles displayed, but be careful – not all of them are free.
2. Add public domain books from other sites
Adding books to Kindle from other sources is a bit more difficult, but it’s sometimes the better way. There are sites, where you’ll find much more public domain books, in different languages, and most of all – all of them are for free.
Check this post to get tips on how to search those sites for books in a specific language.
The books on the sites listed above are available in several file formats. Once you find the title, make sure to download the mobi file – it’s the file format Kindle devices and applications read.
The last thing: how to get the book to the Kindle. You can send the file to an email address associated with your Kindle device.
How to find the email address of my Kindle?
On your Kindle, go to: Home Screen » Menu » Settings » Device Options.
At the bottom of Device Options, you’ll see the section called Send-to-Kindle E-mail (see picture below). The email address displayed here is the one you should send your mobi file. You’ll receive the file in a couple of minutes. Just make sure to sync the device again (Menu » Sync and Check for Items).