Books in the palm of your hand

Jacob Nahin

The many features of Stanza

Today, Apple announced its much-anticipated Apple tablet, the iPad. The device will be available in 60-days and will have its own bookstore, making it easy for book addicts and English majors to get their fix without carrying around a stack of dead trees.

Still, the iPad presents a few problems, the least of which is smashing your new $500-plus device on the concrete outside the Oviatt Library. Instead, go with what’s already in your pocket: the iPhone or iPod Touch.

Thanks to the beauty of copyright expiration and the public domain, thousands of books can be viewed in perfectly readable, legible text — for free.

Simply go to the Apple App Store and download an app called Stanza. The book-reading app, which is put out by LexCycle, accesses several well-known public-domain databases such as Project Gutenburg to bring you digital books like Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales.” Best of all, the app keeps track of where you are in the book and gives diligent note-scribblers the option to annotate.

Still, if you really want to spend money, both Barnes and Noble and Amazon make available their own applications for purchasing and downloading books. Amazon’s application will even sync with its Kindle, arguably the iPad’s primary competitor.