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R.I.P. Michael Hart, Inventor of the eBook and Founder of Project Gutenberg

On September 6, Michael S. Hart died at his home in Illinois at the age of 64. You may not know the name, but if you're on this site you've almost certainly been touched his legacy. In 1971, Hart created the world's first eBook when he transcribed a copy of the Declaration of Independence and uploaded it to the University of Illinois fledgling computer network. In later interviews, he said he would have emailed it to everyone on the system, but doing so would have crashed the network. This simple act would become the foundational moment for Hart, who would go on to found Project Gutenberg -- the largest repository of free eBooks on the Internet. While his work is often eclipsed by the sleeker, sexier offerings through the Amazon and iTunes eBook stores, his aspirations were of the highest order. His mission statement for the site reads:

Encourage the Creation and Distribution of eBooks Help Break Down the Bars of Ignorance and Illiteracy Give As Many eBooks to As Many People As Possible
Thank you, Michael Hart, for making bringing these books to world. (UK Guardian via @Paleofuture)

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Magic Catalog Brings Free eBooks to iBooks and Kindle

Project Gutenberg is essentially an archive of over 33,000 free eBooks that users can load onto most eBook readers. Magic Catalog, from Project Gutenberg, is a free program that acts as a middleman between eBooks and eBook readers, specifically Kindle and iBooks. The app contains links to the free eBooks offered by Project Gutenberg, which when selected, will load said free eBook into one's Kindle or iBooks.

There is also a more roundabout way available to load eBooks into one's reader using the program. From the Unofficial Apple Weblog:

If, for some reason, you'd prefer to download the books to your computer and transfer them to your iOS device (or if you already have .epub, .mobi, or other e-books on your computer), you can do so using iTunes. If you have the Kindle app installed, it will appear under the "File Sharing" section in the "apps" tab, and you can add books there. You may notice that iBooks does not appear in the "File Sharing" section. To transfer books to iBooks, simply drag to the "Library" section of your iTunes library (see this page at for more details).
Kindle and iBooks: When you are on the web page to download the book, you will not see the name of the book; you'll see something like "" followed by the size and a button to open the book in the Kindle app (or iBooks if you have the EPUB version). Once you open the book in the appropriate application, it will show the correct name. Though Magic Catalog seems like a quick and convenient way to load free eBooks onto one's reader, a few users claim that browsing through the many free eBooks is tedious, as Magic Catalog doesn't quite have an organizational system in place as of yet.

(via The Unofficial Apple Weblog)

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50 Free, Classic eBooks For The Reading Device of Your Choice

If you are honest, gentle reader, you probably have a rough list of books that you've been meaning to read for a long time. The kind of classic you pick up in a bookshop, the kind that makes you mull over how it would change your life until you remember that the latest Twilight/Dan Brown crossover novel has come out and skitter off to buy that instead. But thanks to so many books passing into the public domain and the pioneering work of organizations like Project Gutenberg, more foundational works are available for free than ever before. And what's more, the widespread use of e-readers like the iPhone, iPad, and Kindle mean that you can now read and store these books with ease and comfort. Unfortunately, good, free books for e-readers are often tough to come by. The top free book list on Apple's iBooks can be hit-and-miss; finding free books using the Kindle's navigation is a laborious process, and again frequently includes more self-promoting teaser tomes from marketing gurus than it does books that you really want to read. Even if you have a specific classic in mind, the first search results are often 'critical editions' of the books which, while providing context and generally not costing as much as new releases, aren't free. You clicked this link because it had 'free' in the title, right?

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