While publishers, agents and authors discuss the pros and cons of offering books via Apple's iPad, which goes on sale in the US next week, 30,000 books will be made available freely via the Gutenberg Project.
Website AppAdvice reports that while checking Apple's iBookstore, the entire 30,000 Gutenberg Project catalogue appears to be available to iPad users. The Gutenberg Project is billed as the first and largest single collection of free electronic books, or eBooks. Michael Hart, founder of Project Gutenberg, invented eBooks in 1971 and the project is now assisted by thousands of volunteers who help digitise the books.
Popular Gutenberg Project eBook titles include Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana by Vatsyayana.
Last week Apple's CEO Steve Jobs confirmed in a brief email the iBookstore would offer a selection of free eBooks without elaborating on details. The Gutenberg Project notes: "Our books are free in the United States because their copyright has expired. They may not be free in other countries. Readers outside of the United States must check the copyright laws of their countries before downloading or redistributing our ebooks."
The Project Gutenberg site currently offers download formats suitable for eBook readers, mobile phones and other devices.