Sunday, March 28, 2010

Start Building a Free eBook Library for Your iPad

Why wait?  Jeff Rutherford offers up this guest post about how you can start building a free ebooks library for your iPad now:

If you're reading this blog, you're probably like me, and you've either already ordered an iPad, you've reserved an iPad for pickup at your local Apple store, or you're trying to convince your spouse, significant other, or parent why you should absolutely buy an iPad the first day or first week of release.

I've had a fairly long history of using e-readers. I first read a variety of eBooks and downloaded web content on my Visor handheld device.

Then, I purchased a Gemstar ebook device which I actually still use today. You can't beat the well-lit screen for reading in bed. Along, the way, a very generous friend and neighbor gave me a first generation Sony Reader that he received at a conference. And, finally, my wife surprised me this past Christmas with an Amazon Kindle.

I was immediately intrigued by the iPad, and I’ve reserved one for pickup on April 3rd. However, as soon as I learned that the iPad would display ePub-formatted eBooks, I immediately started thinking about where I could find ePub eBooks either for free - or for purchase. Here's what I've found so far:
Project Gutenberg - Obviously for older, public domain titles, you can't beat Project Gutenberg. All their titles are available for free in ePub format - Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories, Edgar Rice Burroughs (the creator of Tarzan), and many, many, many more books.

It's easy to take it for granted, but all the books available via Project Gutenberg were typed and proofread by volunteers. If you're so inclined, there are lots of ways that you can volunteer to help with Project Gutenberg. What an amazing resource.

With iPad rumors flying fast and furious, I should mention that App Advice, a website focused on Apple apps, reported recently that Project Gunteberg books will automatically be included in Apple's iBookstore.

Baen Free Library - Baen Books, named for the late science fiction-fantasy editor Jim Baen, was one of the earliest publishers to embrace free ebooks. If you're a science fiction or fantasy fan, there's lots of great books available for free, in ePub format, from the Baen Free Library.

DailyLit - While DailyLit doesn't offer ePub formatted books, they do offer free books which can be easily enjoyed on the iPad. As Steve Jobs demonstrated at the iPad unveiling, email was designed as a core app for the iPad. DailyLit offers free books available via email or RSS. Each day, DailyLit emails you a chapter of the book you've selected. If you want to keep reading when you reach the end of the DailyLit email, click on a link at the bottom of the email and the next installment will be emailed to you immediately. The 800+ free titles available via DailyLit span the gamut, including Berlitz Spanish Lessons, 151 Movies You've Never Seen by Leonard Maltin, and many, many more.

In addition, there are yet more sites that offer free ePub books. It appears that many of these sites are using Project Gutenberg texts but are adding their own unique formatting or illustrations to the books.  Some of those sites, include: ePubBooks, ManyBooks, and Snee.
Librophile – I discovered this “search engine” for free eBooks and audiobooks from a recent Lifehacker article. Created by LibriVox, the same organization that has pioneered crowsourced, free audio recordings of public domain titles, Librophile appears to do a decent job with finding free audio recordings online, but they need some improvements on searching for free eBooks.
The pricing debate for eBooks is far from over. But, if you want to buy more current books in ePub format, there’s plenty of online ebook stores ready to take your money, including: Barnes & and Note that not all titles at those two sites are available in ePub format.
What about you? Have you started downloading ePub books in anticipation of the iPad launch? What sites are you using? Let us know in the comments.
Jeff Rutherford

1 comment:

  1. It is my understanding that if you want to read a Barnes & Noble DRM book on your iPad, then you need the app that allows that, if you want to read an Amazon DRM book you will need their app to read that book and so forth. Non DRM books can be read by the iPad and if it is not in the right format, then calibre will most likely convert it for you so you can still read it anyway. This is one reason to steer away from DRM books. One would be wise to put each type of DRM file in separate folders so that you know which reader to use. Although this seems like a schlemozzle, it is at least useable. The rest of us cannot read many books that are available but not in a format that is allowed, even if they are all in ePub format.