Help me load my iPad with freebies!

Help me load my iPad with freebies! March 19, 2014

The other day, I was amazed and delighted to hear that I had won second prize in Catholic Vote’s contest. First prize was a trip for two two Rome for the upcoming beatifications, which would have been niiiice, but I am beyond thrilled at what I did win, as top referrer: a spiffy new iPad Mini!

PIC iPad “At first I was going to give it to someone, and then I thought I would raffle it for a good cause, then I thought it would make a great prize, and then I realized I WANT THIS.”

I understand its microwhatever is roughly as powerful as the International Space Station and that the touchscreen can, by analyzing the electrolyte content in my fingertips, predict the very moment of my death; but I mostly want to use it to read books and play music and movies.

My first plan is to load it up with free or very cheap books, preferably good read-aloud books. I can’t tell you how many books we’ve gotten 3/4 of the way through, only to lose track of them and never find out if Curdie rescued the Princess, if Pip’s sister ever found out who took the meat pie, and of course what the heck that Trinity thing is about.  Seriously, one of the main reasons we quit homeschooling was because we just plain lost all the books all the time.

So, help me get started, eh? What’s cheap or free and great?

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  • Spastic Hedgehog

    The New Hampshire Library Consortium has online books available for check out through a free program called “Overdrive.” If you visit your local library’s webpage you can find out more. The selection is hit or miss but hey, it’s free.

  • Project Gutenberg is the ur-source of free, digitized public-domain texts–over 42,000 titles right now, many of which have been carefully edited. (I’ve helped out with the editing over at Distributed Proofreading,, and the process there is pretty thorough.)

    Many of Project Gutenberg’s titles have already been loaded into Apple’s bookstore, so that would be the easiest place to start.

    If I don’t see what I want at Gutenberg, Inkmesh is a search engine I use…it will turn up both free and paid ebooks. Looking up The Prisoner of Zenda, for instance, I see the edition, as well as free editions hosted at,, and, among other places. (Often these are all the same Gutenberg text, presented slightly differently.)

    From whichever site you’re downloading, you’ll be wanting the ePub version of the book to use on the iPad. These books can be sideloaded into iBooks; a lot of bookworms like to use other apps though. People tell me the Marvin app is well worth $2.99, though there may be a learning curve.

    MobileRead is not only a source of ebooks, but has active forums that can provide all sorts of advice, including help specific to the device and software you’re using.

    • I gave the above comment a big edit, but because there were links it may have been eaten by the spam filter. (EDIT: Nope…looks like it made it.)

  • woden325

    I don’t use Apple stuff, so I’m not sure of specific Apps, but in general: if you already use Amazon Kindle, get the App for that. Get Microsoft OneNote for notetaking, shopping lists, that kind of thing.

  • Francine Weber

    You can get the Kindle app and Amazon has a lot of books for free, including the classics. Keep checking back, since the free books do change. Also, see what program your library has for Kindle. There are frequently copies of books that my library doesn’t have paper copies of that I can get. Also, if you are an Amazon Prime member, there is a lending library among users, though I haven’t tried it yet so I don’t know what the selection is.

    • woden325

      The Amazon Kindle lending library is only available on Kindle devices, unfortunately. You can’t use it with the apps.
      The public library version works across the apps, I believe.

  • Mary V

    There’s a cool App called, “Apps Gone Free”, it has new apps every day that have become free for a limited time. I have gotten some cool ones. There are multiple apps every day and they last for a few days. Earlier this year I was able to get the complete works of Shakespeare… FOR FREE!

  • Melissa Hunter-Kilmer Subscribe to this and you get a daily email reminder that you can get free or cheap books because of what I envision as a teeming horde of Bookbub staffers combing the web for bargain books. You tell it what genres you like and it’ll tell you about that kind of book. Every day. Or you can just go to its website and find stuff on your own. I love it so much that I have literally about 450 books on my Kindle that I haven’t read but that I “bought” because they were free. But they don’t take up space on my bookshelf! Woo hoo!

    Just one caveat—writers of free books seem to think that they can get people to buy their books if they offer a freebie as the first one in a series. Don’t fall for that unless you want to get hooked on a series and then be forced (forced, I tell you!) to buy the rest.

    (Incidentally, can anybody say “genre” without sounding pretentious? Or at least as if it’s a failed throat-clear-spit? Fortunately, it comes off okay in writing. I think.)

  • ForsythiaTheMariner

    I love the kindle app ( free), and there are quite a number of free or very inexpensive books for it on amazon. ( i found most of Chesterton for free, for example, and his St. Thomas Aquinas was less than $1)
    Besides books, though, i recommend the free Reuters app, the wider image, which shows photo essays by reuters photographers from around the world. Also, I use iMissal every day ( it was a couple dollars, totally worth it, and purchased the additional saint of the day extra for a dollar or so. I find that reading about the saints before reading the mass readings of the day has been a gift.

  • richard

    The Breaking News app from the BBC.