Project Gutenberg e-Books to Be Available on iBookstore
A big concern among electronic rights activists
has been that Apple's new iBookstore for e-books will be hobbled by the same Digital Rights Management (DRM) software that Apple had initially used for iTunes music and still uses for video content. However, according to someone who has gotten a sneak preview of titles on the iBookstore, free books from Project Gutenberg
- possibly all 30,000 of them - will be available for download.
Project Gutenberg is an all-volunteer effort to put non-copyrighted books and other publications in digital form. It started when a University of Illinois grad student named Michael Hart got free access to the university's mainframe, keying in the Declaration of Independence and saving it on the the Xerox SDS Sigma V
's enormous three-megabyte hard drive. Since then over 30,000 books have been digitized by volunteers and saved in a number of common formats, from plain text to PDF to HTML and ePad.
When Apple announced the details of iBooks on its website
, it was confirmed that the e-reader app will be able to read ePub formatted titles. The iBooks page notes that "you can add free ePub titles to iTunes and sync them to the iBooks app on your iPad," which seemed to suggest that users would be able to download Project Gutenberg files from the website. However, AppAdvice's
Alexander Vaughn got what he termed a "not-so-NDA (nondisclosure agreement)-complying preview" of the iBookstore site and found that a number of Gutenberg Project titles are already there
, including works by Mark Twain, Lewis Carroll, and popular science fiction writer Cory Doctorow, who has made most of his work available for free.
Free e-books on the iPad are good for the iPad and iBooks - by creating an instant library of diverse titles, including some of the greatest works in English (and many other languages). It's also good for Project Gutenberg, because it'll raise awareness of the project in the public's mind, and make it much easier for people to access the books. Everybody wins.