08 Apr Free books for your iPad
Category: How-To, iPad

Few people know that the iPad is actually very open when it comes to books. While the only means to purchase books for it is the iBookstore on the iPad itself (so far), it’s possible to import ePub files into iTunes and sync them to your device. Here’s some tips to (legally) fill up your iPad with books without spending hundreds of dollars.

You have several options for grabbing free books:

1. Download them off the iBookstore

The iBookstore has most of the Project Gutenberg library on it. Not all of them are listed, but if you search for them you’ll find them, including translations. These books lack cover art, however: you can add this in iTunes just like you’d add cover art to music. Use Google Images coupled with Tineye to find high-resolution cover art (trust me, you want it to be nice and high-res).

2. Get them off ePubBooks

ePubBooks is a website with a huge amount of free ePub-formatted books. A lot of them even have original illustrations and cover art included and are ready to drag into iTunes and synced onto your iPad. If you prefer different cover art, or want to change metadata, iTunes still lets you.

3. Convert PDF’s, LIT’s and more to ePub

While it wins no UI design prize, Calibre is a cross-platform app that outputs well-formatted ePub files from various input formats. If you have digital copies or PDF’s lying around, chances are you can convert them to a nice iBook. It handles chapter auto-generation, but sometimes you’ll have to tweak some settings to achieve the best results.

Lastly, since we did great cover art for Classics, I suggest you use some of those to decorate your free public domain books. You can find them on the Classics Facebook page here. Louie Mantia also made a fantastic Alice in Wonderland cover illustration.

If you have more sources for free (i)books and tips, feel free to add them in the comments.

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7 Responses

  1. 1

    Oh netjes! Heb nog geen iPad maar dat klinkt wel leuk. Hoe heb je Duin erop gekregen, is dat ook gratis?

  2. 2

    @Jan – I had Dune in .LIT format, so I converted it. Too good to not have on my iPad :)

  3. 3

    Is there any way to get the Flatland cover art included with Classics? That was my favorite book in the app.

  4. 4

    Thanks for the links and info, the massive PDF library that I have already should be great to read on the iPad. What I want to do now is get rid of Kindle and convert them to EPUB. Unfortunately destroying DRM is one heck of a process, if at least seemingly impossible for me to do.

  5. 5

    Calibre seemed unnecessarily complicated – I tried to convert one book and it failed.

    I tried Stanza (on the desktop) and the export to ePub option is ridiculously simple.

  6. 6

    Calibre sucks — I couldn’t get it to format an ePub properly. I, instead, used a combination of Stanza Desktop and Sigil to convert plain text books to ePub. First I imported the file into Stanza Desktop and exported it as an ePub, then I went into Sigil to format it.

    Also, could you upload more of the Classics covers to the facebook group?

  7. 7

    The Classics Facebook page only has 12 of the 23 covers included with Classics. I’d love to be able to track down the others, but haven’t had much luck. Any pointers?