In the last seven days, eBooks written by Homer have been downloaded 3708 times from Project Gutenberg according to the project’s Top 100 listings. In the past 30 days, Project Gutenberg has made 4,141,776 eBook downloads.
The downloads are free. Over 4 million people have received books to read on their handheld devices at no cost. And these numbers are only from Project Gutenberg. There are many other free sources for eBooks plus the entire worlds of Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook and many other booksellers who increasingly offer eBook versions of their merchandise.
We are not waiting for the day when it is practical to read books on a mobile device. That day is here.
The iPhone pictures above are from a video by Lexcycle, the makers of the iPhone reader called Stanza. Anyone who cares about doing right by students should watch this video — or in some other way get a real idea of the ease and power with which books can be placed in the hands of learners by letting them read books on their handheld devices. Mashable described Stanza and four similar readers in an article last April titled 5 Fantastic Free iPhone E-book Reader Apps.
Reading on phones is not all that new. As far back as four years ago, reading novels on phones was making headlines: Big Books Hit Japan’s Tiny Phones.
In recent months, digital publishing has been maturing. It is revolutionizing the publishing industry.
Availability of books is proliferating. Venerable, wonderful Project Gutenberg remains true to its original philosophy by now offering free ebooks:
Project Gutenberg is the place where you can download over 33,000 free ebooks to read on your PC, iPad, Kindle, Sony Reader, iPhone, Android or other portable device…. Over 100,000 free ebooks are available through our Partners, Affiliates and Resources.
Today the Chronicle of Higher Education describes how ebooks are reconfiguring citations. The conclusion of the article quotes an expert who “. . . looks forward to a time when most reading is done digitally, and electronic links replace long descriptions of how to find each reference.”
If someone had predicted in that past that all students anywhere could hold virtually any book in their hands and read it there, that person would have been dismissed as a cockeyed optimist.
Yet we now know that virtually any student anywhere can read virtually all books on his/her phone — as soon as we get it done. What are we waiting for?