There is a set of books commonly known as "Classics". I can remember reading "Great Expectations" by Dickens in my English class in high school. To get these books now you have a choice between paperbacks that are easily worn out or very expensive - yet limited in content - sets of "Classics".
Enter some utterly insane book lovers who decided to create an e-pub business. Delphi Classics (www.delphiclassics.com
) contain more inexpensive copies of classic literature than will fit on a Kindle - I know, I ran out of space. These books are commonly $2.98 each - but they're not a single book, they're everything that the author ever wrote. There are package deals that contain every compilation in a series at a reduced price. To obtain these books in hard copy format you would have to go to a large city library like the one in New York City.
I have them all at home - more probably than I will ever get to read (I'm 67). I'm sorry to say that only an English major will be familiar with many of these authors. How many here are familiar with Stephen Crane, G.A. Henty or George Gissing? Zane Gray, Jules Verne, Robert Louis Stevenson and that English guy William Shakespeare may be more familiar. I'm currently trying to read Tacitus (AD 56 - AD 118) to get an idea of Roman life two thousand years ago. You're not going to find this kind of literature in your corner bookstore ( they'd go broke trying to keep unpopular books like this in stock ).
"Nero now became the sport of fortune as a result of his own credulity and the promises of Caesellius Bassus. Punic by origin and mentally deranged, Bassus treated the vision he had seen in a dream by night as a ground of confident expectation, took ship to Rome, and, buying an interview with the emperor, explained that he had found on his estate an immensely deep cavern, which contained a great quantity of gold, not transformed into coin but in unwrought and ancient bullion."
Complete Works of Tacitus (Kindle Locations 45538-45541). Delphi Classics.
Where else but on an e-reader are you going to find two thousand year old gossip?