Apple's iPad to launch with 30,000-volume free library
Project Gutenberg provides public domain e-books
Apple's e-book reader application, iBooks, may be more widely available than anticipated, thanks to the inclusion of more than 30,000 free e-books from Project Gutenberg.
Not longer after the iPad's January introduction, it emerged that iBooks might not feature on versions of the tablet sold outside the US because of licensing limitations imposed on works still protected by copyright law.
Such restrictions - who is allowed to publish what, and where - don't apply to public domain, out-of-copyright works of the kind digitised and made available by Project Gutenberg.
Website AppAdvice this week claimed that Apple's online e-book store, accessed through iBooks, will include all that Project Gutenberg has to offer.
If correct, that would allow Apple to launch iBooks internationally with virtual shelf after shelf of books without having to wait for local distribution deals to be signed.
In any case, the iPad's e-book reader rivals all offer a wealth of public domain content, so Apple needs to include Project Gutenberg even if it hasn't already.
The iPad goes on sale in the US on 3 April, with the UK debut taking place later next month. ®
That's a bit like saying that Dell's new netbook will launch with a 30,000-volume free library. Or that the iPhone launched with a 30,000-volume free library. Or that my desktop PC launched with ... you get the idea.
The iPad my well be spangly and shiny and worthy of interest, but the fact that it is capable of accessing Project Gutenberg works is absolutely nothing to do with Apple or the iPad.
Gutenberg's library is a very important offering for Apple: since the iPad won't be able to read Adobe DRM-encrypted ePubs, the format that 99% of the ebook publishers insist on using, you'll be restricted to Gutenberg's DRM-free ePubs and Apple's ebooks.
If you've ever bought any ePubs, you won't be able to access them on the iPad. For me, that's a big deal...
What eBook reader doesn't?
The 30,000 free e-books from Project Gutenberg are free to any eBook reader surely. Most are available just .txt files..