free[1] Tony Brownfield on Wired has a look at the best free e-books for iPad and iPod that are “actually readable.” But on looking at it, it turns out to be a lot less than I’d hoped it would be.

I had hoped it would be talking about books in some particular new format that was especially easy to read on Apple devices. However, I was more than a little disappointed: by “free” it seems to mean “public domain”, and by “actually readable” it seems to mean “that I like”. (Also, it drops an F-bomb. Why?)

The titles the article lists include:

  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
  • A Princess of Mars
  • Frankenstein
  • Gulliver’s Travels
  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

And it doesn’t even link to where they can be found on Project Gutenberg, Manybooks, Feedbooks, or other purveyors of public domain e-books. It doesn’t even suggest how to find them. It just…lists and blurbs the titles. Nothing else. Not terribly useful to someone who actually wants to find those titles. (And for that matter, these titles can be downloaded and read on any e-book reader, not just “iPods and iPads”.)

Furthermore, by those criteria, there are plenty of free e-books out there that are absolutely “readable”. There are dozens or hundreds of public domain titles that deserve a look—certainly more than six. (The Prisoner of Zenda. Jules Verne. The Arsène Lupin novels. Etc.) And there are some great recent free books on Baen’s Free Library, the Baen CD repository at Fifth Imperium, Cory Doctorow’s website, and others.

This article reads like someone had to come up with something on the spur of the moment to fill a post quota. Nice try, Tony, but better luck next time.


  1. Thanks guys … though I was thinking more of a list of recommended specific backlisted eBooks and classics from last century rather than a catalogue of sources. A list also that could be marked by visitors with ‘recommend’ or ‘not recommend’ tick counters.

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