Put a thousand books from the British Library on your iPad for free

I just love finding apps like this, and I think you'll be excited too. The British Library has released 1000 books from its 19th Century collection into a free iPad app that includes novels, historical works, poetry, philosophy and scientific books.

The books have been scanned in high resolution and color so you can see the engraved illustrations, the beauty of the embossed covers, along with maps and even the texture of the paper the books were printed on.

You can search the collection, browse titles by subject, and even read commentary on some of the titles. The books can be downloaded for reading offline.


In general, I found the app a joy to use. It was fun to browse titles, or search for things I was interested in. While some of the type is old and weathered, you can zoom in and read everything without issue.

Just like a real book, there are some blank pages you have to skip through, but I didn't find that a frustration. The app only works in portrait mode, but some of the illustrations are oriented in landscape view. Many of these literary treasures will likely never be offered as standard e-books so this is a unique opportunity for readers.

Although the app is free, the British Library plans to charge for an enhanced version of 60,000 titles later this year. Many of the books have an option to buy, and when you click you are sent to Amazon to purchase a printed copy. The app is iPad only for now, but will be coming to the Kindle Reader and Android tablets in the future. If you grab the app let us know what you think.