Apple's iBookstore, the company's online market for e-books, reportedly will offer 30,000 Project Gutenberg e-books at no cost when the company's iPad is released on April 3.
An image of an iPad posted by AppAdvice.com shows the Project Gutenberg catalog in Apple's iBookstore.
Project Gutenberg, which has been operating since 1971, describes itself as "the first and largest single collection of free electronic books." It is a non-profit project that aims to make public domain e-books more widely accessible to Internet users.
The availability of Project Gutenberg texts, some of which contain sexual content, suggests Apple is taking a more tolerant approach to old literature than to recent suggestive or explicit apps. A year ago, Apple briefly banned the Eucalyptus e-book reader app because it allowed users to access Project Gutenberg's version of The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana, an incident widely cited among critics who charge that Apple's content policies are inconsistent.
In February, Apple banned a number of apps that it had previously approved following complaints from customers and developers about sexual content in the Apps Store.
Although Project Gutenberg titles, not to mention millions of Google Books titles, can be accessed using Apple's Safari Web browser on the iPad, Apple's free iBooks reading app aspires to offer a better user experience than Safari. "[R]eading is so natural on iPad, the technology seems to disappear," Apple says about its device and software.
The technology may become visible again through the Apple's FairPlay digital lock scheme, which will reportedly be used to prevent e-books from being copied without authorization.
Apple has reportedly been scrambling to line up deals with publishing partners prior to the iPad's launch, even as it has moderated its ambition to cut similar deals with film and television content providers.
The Wall Street Journal on Thursday revealed that it will be asking $18 per month for a subscription to the newspaper on the iPad, significantly more than it charges for delivery of a physical copy of the newspaper ($9.20/month), online access ($8/month) or a printed copy and online access ($12/month).