Plenty of books with Stanza and Free Books
Of course, one of the big "to do’s" about the iPad is its book reading capabilities. You can sit back anywhere and have a library of content at your fingertips. And this is all true. But you don’t need iBooks or the Kindle app in order to get your hands on some reading material. Don’t forget, there are multiple projects and sites out there that offer thousands of free books.
First off, these apps give you access to the "Classics" or books that have become a part of the public domain. That is to say books like Tom Sawyer, Sherlock Holmes, Treasure Island and thousands of others. You know, *real* literature, the stuff they base today’s movies on. You won’t find Twlight, Harry Potter or the Lost Symbol in this collection, but there are all the precursors to those stories. Well, you can get access to them, but they aren’t free. So let’s stick with all the stories we were forced to read in high school and college, but never actually appreciated.
As an example, over the past year I’ve gone back and read Treasure Island, Kidnapped, Dracula, Frankenstein, Sherlock Holmes and multiple stories by Poe (and quite a few more). And in those travels I came across several new authors I’d never heard of before – Fergus Hume wrote some very entertaining murder mysteries.
But anyway, what’s the best way to get access to these gems? Well, there are two free apps which will unlock a treasure trove of good reading. Both are free and both look great on the iPad.
Stanza is definitely an app to download. It allows you to search across multiple book sites, both free and paid. You can jump in and get books from Project Gutenberg, but you can also see lots of other offerings. For example, searching for Sherlock Holmes will give you the free Arthur Conan Doyle stories and other variations as well. Steampunk Sherlock Holmes?
Besides the content, the reader is easy to use. You can change the font size, background color, brightness and set bookmarks. Stanza also offers the ability to read PDF, ePub, eReader, Comic Book Archive (CBR & CBZ), and DjVu books. A pretty impressive list.
And all of this for free! It’s not even $0.99, its plain free. If you can’t find a book to read from this app, then it may not be out there. Or you like some weird stuff.
Next up is Free Books – 23,469 classics to go. This is another free app that lets you hook into the vast, free world of classic books. Again, you can download thousands of books that have gone into the public domain. And many aren’t the traditional classic, it’s just the copyright has expired. They still read just as well today mind you. Good storytelling never goes out of style.
The reader works well and allows you change the font size, background color and brightness. You don’t have access to other libraries like Stanza, but depending on what you’re looking for that might not be a bad thing. It doesn’t support PDF files or other formats, but again, that may not be a bad thing.
Downloading books into both apps only takes a second or two, so you could spend 5 minutes and build a massive collection of reading material.
If you really wanted to get fancy you could download an audio book player, listen to the story and read along. It would be quite the echelon of geekiness.
Both apps are great. Both apps are free. So, there’s no excuse for not having something to read on your iPad without spending a fortune.