The iPad & Reading (Free Books, too!)

Update:I’m keeping a list of ebook publishers/sources for which I’ve found inFeel free to send me suggestions. This is, by no means, a complete list — I’m just taking notes as my OCD-compulsive nature kicks in and I build up a huge set of books to read.

  • The Baen Free Library contains quite an amazing selection of donationware ebooks from many well known science fiction and fantasy authors.
  • Feedbooks contains a ton of public domain and original content as they are also a publisher of ebooks. Their blog is pretty interesting, too.
  • A one-off; Charlie Stross’s Accelerando comes highly recommended.
  • In the meta-category; a weblog post claiming to point to the “top 20 websites for DRM-free Sci-Fi Books”.
  • This list is impressive and also leads to cheap sources for ebooks, too. I’m perfectly happy paying for ebooks (just like real books), though I’m not at all happy about paying more than the paperback price for an older book.
  • Tor books — publishers of Jordan’s Wheel of Time series — has embraced ebooks to a large degree.


I know lots of people that have picked up iPads — no surprises there. What is surprising is that just about everyone has something for which their reaction is “the iPad changes everything”.

I have several of those, but — at the moment — the biggest is reading. I used to read tons and tons of books, but gradually tapered off because I carrying around a couple of books was a pain in the ass and, for vacations, I would need to take up to a dozen, depending on duration.

That and, frankly, it has been bloody obvious for years that an e-book read that is “good enough” would provide a portable library and a decent reading experience. The Kindle was almost the one, but having 40% of the front surface area covered by a keyboard seemed like a complete waste to me. I did, however, use the Kindle app on the iPhone to read a couple of books — good, but not great.

I find iBooks to be a wonderful reading experience. Easy on the eyes, very nice user interface and — with the versatility of the iPad — I can read Kindle books, and do a myriad other things on the device. Haven’t spent much time with the Kindle app, but if it is like the iPhone, it’ll be just fine, too!

I, however, am a cheapskate. I haven’t quite brought myself to drop money on books. Fortunately, there is a large number of freely available books in both the iTunes and Kindle stores.

With a bit of hunting, I have also hit upon a treasure trove of mostly Science Fiction and Fantasy — my favorite genres — books! In particular, Baen Books made available a large number of their books in many formats! In particular, you can find a list of the participating authors, click through to their titles, then select the EPUB/Nook/Stanza Format on the download page.

Note that the books have covers as in the picture on the left, but the cover art doesn’t show up in the iBooks application on the iPad.

I donated $51 in return for a ton of books.

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6 Responses to “The iPad & Reading (Free Books, too!)”

  1. houman says:

    Bookmarking this entry for when I finally break down and get an iPad…. which may be any day now. Can’t fight it any longer. I saw the Marvel Comics app on a friends iPad, realized it was what I always wanted as a kid.

    As always – Thanks for the blog.

  2. Getting ePub books onto iPad (free books!) « Geek And Dad's Blog says:

    […] books onto iPad (free books!) By Dad @bbum pointed out some great free eBooks in his recent blog post.  They are at — Thanks […]

  3. Dad says:

    Tip on getting these to your iPad:…pad-free-books/

  4. peterb says:

    I bought a few books at Baen and have a workaround for the “no covers” issue.

    (1) Download and install Calibre.
    (2) Slurp the e-book into Calibre.
    (3) If the e-book has no cover in Calibre, grab one and use the ‘inspect’/edit feature to add an appropriate image. The Baen books already have covers, so you can skip this step for them.
    (4) (C)onvert the epub book to ePub. Yes, you read right – you are converting from ePub, and to ePub. Leaving all the options at the defaults should work.
    (5) (S)ave the ePub book to your hard drive.
    (6) Drop the saved epub on iTunes. Make sure not to confuse it with your original.

    You can also do this with the Gutenberg books downloaded from the iBookstore. Works great.

  5. Luc J says:

    I wonder how far you get on a single battery charge. And how that compares with a Kindle or other eBook readers?

  6. Chaptergeek Book Reviews says:

    You can also read free ebooks from libraries such as the Philadelphia free library and you can also visit Project Gutenberg.

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