ePub Compatibility Will Likely Allow iPad to Access Tons of Free Project Gutenberg Books

With Apple’s iPad en route for April 3rd, the cool cats at TiPb.com have pointed out that Apple is using the ePub format for its iPad Bookstore, which should actually allow access to hundreds of thousands of free books. And while Apple’s iBooks will contain a FairPlay DRM layer which won’t work on other eReader devices, the Project Gutenberg books, which are still in ePub format, should work on the iPad.

Perhaps one of the coolest parts of the Internet, Project Gutenberg is a volunteer effort to digitize thousands of books that are out of copyright. Per Apple’s comments, users can “add free ePub titles to iTunes and sync them to the iBooks app on your iPad.”

Project Gutenberg, founded in 1971 by Michael S. Hart, is the world’s oldest digital library and contains over 30,000 items in its collection as of December, 2009, with the intention of creating an enormous archives of public domain books in long-lasting, open formats that can be used on almost any computer.

This could be a big iPad investing incentive for schools (once they pay the $500 cost of entry) because classics still cost money to print and store, yet once you’ve paid for an iPad, you have a virtually unlimited amount of text for children to download.

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