If you don't already know about Project Gutenberg, you should. The site has over 30,000 free ebooks, most of them classics whose copyrights have lapsed. The site includes big-name titles from big-name authors, representing everyone from Dante Alighieri to H.G. Wells. The site's free digital ebooks saved me untold hundreds of dollars while I was doing undergrad work for my English degree.
9to5Mac points out that all of those ebooks should be compatible with Apple's forthcoming iBooks app for the iPad. iBooks will be using the ePub format, and Apple itself has said "you can add free ePub titles to iTunes and sync them to the iBooks app on your iPad." ePub is one of many formats available for Project Gutenberg's ebooks; therefore, it stands to reason that those ebooks should all work in the iBooks app.
However, even if Project Gutenberg's ebooks don't work in iBooks, whether for technical reasons such as formatting or more sinister reasons such as content providers' demands, it won't matter. Project Gutenberg's ebooks are already available on the iPhone and iPod touch through multiple channels -- the Stanza app, and through Project Gutenberg's own site via MobileSafari -- and the iPad will be able to access Project Gutenberg's library in the same way. Reading those ebooks will undoubtedly be a better experience on the iPad's larger screen, whether it's through iBooks, Stanza, Safari, or some other means.
Apple isn't advertising the iPad as coming with 30,000 free books, but thanks to Project Gutenberg, without spending a penny more than the cost of the iPad itself, you'll be able to carry an entire library of classics around in a device that weighs less than most hardcover novels.
[Via Cult of Mac]