In this post I’ll list most popular sites. Apple’s own ebookstore, iBooks Store, is included, but it doesn’t have a regular website, so I’ll also explain how to get access there.
What kind of files iBooks supports? It’s pdf and epub. If you add own books, these files have to be DRM-free, otherwise you won’t be able to open them in the app.
Before moving to descriptions of sites, let me share basic tips on how to add own books to iBooks app on iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch:
1. Via iTunes desktop app
You have this app pre-downloaded on Mac computer, and you can also get it for Windows. To add own books you have to connect the iPad or iPhone via cable to the computer. Worth the effort for bulk downloads, but it’s not the most convenient way to add one or few titles.
2. Open an email attachment in a Mail iOS app
Luckily, there are other ways that don’t need the cables. The most common method is to send an email to yourself, with epub file as an attachment. Then open the email in a native Mail app on the iPhone/iPad.
3. Use iOS cloud service app
Download epub books in bulk to Google Drive or Dropbox on your computer and open them from within Google Drive/Dropbox app on your iOS device.
4. Use Safari to open a file from url address
Some sites (Project Gutenberg, Feedbooks are among them) have clear url addresses of ebook files. When you tap on a link to epub file (ending with .epub), you should be able to open it with iBooks.
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8 sources of free ebooks for iBooks
1. iBooks Store
As I already said, unlike other ebook sites, iBookstore is not available on the web. You can access it only from iBooks or iTunes app.
If you search for “ibookstore” on the web, you may come across the site with the address ibookstore.com. It’s not what you’re looking for, believe me. The site offers ebooks for Kindle, not for iBooks, and they link to Amazon, not to iBooks Store.
So far, iBooks Store has launched in about 50 countries – one-third of where iTunes Store is available. If you want to make iBooks your default book reading app, please keep that in mind. You won’t be able to get any paid content from the iBooks Store, if it hasn’t opened in your country.
To find free titles within the iBooks app, in the home screen tap on Store button in the top right corner, then select Top Charts section, and you’ll see a heading saying “Free Books”. This is the list of the most popular free books, and it includes 300 titles at most.
To find free titles in the iTunes app, tap on Books in the top navigation bar, and then locate a list “Books Quick Links” on the right side (See screenshot below).
If you want to browse for other free titles, use the search box. Type the author, genre, or title, and in the list of search results pick up the titles with a price set to free.
The link may prompt you to open external application – iTunes.
2. Project Gutenberg
Project Gutenberg is the top place to download free classics. It’s a mother of all ebook sites, where you can find a first ebook ever made (it’s free) – http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1.
Currently there are almost 44,000 public domain books in the catalog. There are two kinds of epub files: with or without images. The one with images takes much more disc space – and that also means it will take longer to download it.
If you are going to add books to iBooks via Dropbox or Google Drive, you’ll love the fact that PG offers one-click downloads to connected accounts of these two cloud storage services.
Smashwords is one of the most popular places of ebooks from independent authors and publishers. Books are available in several languages, all are DRM-free, and many authors make their publications available for free.
The site distributes books to major ebookstores, and iBooks Store is among them. However, not all authors set their books to distribute in Apple’s store. Also, I observed that some books that are free on Smashwords are paid in the iBooks Store (it’s usually $0.99).
To quickly get to the list of free ebooks, simply use the combination of the three top filter bars. For instance, here is the link to: bestsellers – that are free – that are 50k words or longer.
Currently there are more than 25,000 free ebooks on Smashwords. You can first pick a category, and then select Free tab to get a list of free titles in your favorite genre. For instance, there are 2,100 science-fiction books that are free on Smashwords.
4. Internet Archive
The Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library with the mission of “universal access to all knowledge.” The website is a huge digital library of text, audio and video files. It offers over 3.8 mln ebooks and texts. Sub-collections include American Libraries, Canadian Libraries, books from Project Gutenberg, titles from the Million Books Project, and books for children.
When you find the interesting book, you’ll see in the left panel the list of available formats. In most cases epub will be included.
5. Open Library
Open Library is another initiative of the Internet Archive. The site positions itself as “the world’s classic literature at your fingertips”. There are over 1,000,000 free ebook titles available.
The biggest benefit of Open Library is that it’s driven by a strong community. It’s like Wikipedia for ebooks.
If the book had more than one edition, you’ll see them listed on Open Library. For instance, Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, first published in 1876, have 306 editions altogether and most of them have separate download directories.
On Feedbooks you can find both public domain (Public Domain section) and free contemporary books (Original Books section), both fiction and non-fiction. As the site is based in France, there are a lot of titles in French, as well as in other languages, not only in English.
The site offers RSS feeds of specific categories, so you can subscribe to them and get new books the moment they are added to offer.
The site offers 29,000 free ebooks. The site is very well-organized and it’s easy to browse for books or follow recommendations.
The book detail page displays not only the usual fields like the author or publish date, but also word count and the reading ease. The number of available formats is impressive. Epub included.
The site is an online ebook catalog, where you can find almost 30,000 titles – all of them are free.
There are several categories to choose from. The most popular are Poetry, Juvenile Fiction, and Literary Collections.
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Remember that iBooks is not the only way to read books on the iPad or iPhone. You can install apps that connect with your Kindle, Kobo, or Nook account. You can also start using a new breed of highly advanced book-reading apps like Marvin.
Any of the apps mentioned above supports epub and pdf. You can only add DRM-free books to them, so the conditions to add own books are exactly the same as to iBooks.
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