By Stephen Windwalker, Editor of iPad Nation Daily
Among the things that bind us together as citizens of iPad Nation are our love for reading and our love for these nifty gadgets Apple has made for us, whether we're talking about the iPad, the iPhone, the iPod Touch or our various Macs. Some may say that we're just here for the music, the games, and the videos, but the truth is that we love to read, and iPad Nation Daily is here to help us find the best selection, the best prices, and the best reading environments so that we can use our "iReaders" to read the ebooks we want to read wherever we want to read them.
In future posts we'll play plenty of attention to the two natural leaders in the field -- Apple's new iBooks Store and Amazon's Kindle Store. Each of these stores and their accompanying reading environments are available as free apps in the App Store that you can access directly from the Home screen of your iPad. You can also get into the Kindle App with your iPhone or iPod Touch, and I expect the iBooks Apps to become available soon on the iPhone or iPod Touch as well.
But just for today, with 180,000 apps in the apps store and not all that much navigational help to find them, let's focus on a pretty amazing, easy-to-use resource for serious readers who like a great selection of thousands of free books organized for easy sorting, searching, and browsing. It's called Stanza, and it is a free app that is available in the iTunes App Store, but it may require a little sleuthwork just because it is available now as "an iPhone app that you can run on iPad," kind of a second-class citizen of the app store and the iPad environment.
But once you type in "stanza" in the App Store search field, tap its "free" price field to download it, and then tap the Stanza icon to open the app, you'll be well on the way to seeing and using a reading app that is first-class in many respects. As with any iPhone app rendered on the iPad, you'll want to tap the 2X/1X toggle in the lower right corner of your overall display to expand the view to fill your 9.7" display. The resolution will then be not quite as crisp as if the app had been designed expressly for the iPad, but it's not bad.
When you first enter the Stanza app you'll find several basic navigational options: you can watch a pretty straightforward and useful help video if you tap on the "Watch Online Intro Video" link or the Stanza icon just above, you can start reading either if the two ebooks that are in your "Library," or you can tap on "Get Books" to see if this Stanza app really has books that would entice you to keep using the app.
The first two choices are great choices and I do recommend them, but let's go to the Stanza Bookstore, shall we? At the bottom of your display you'll see a "Get Books" icon second from the left. Tap that.
Stanza will then show you a listing of five bookstores in the first section, incluidng BooksonBoard, Fictionwise, O'Reilly, All Romance, and Smashwords. Each of them is well worth checking out with thousands of direct listings including O'Reilly's highly respected technology catalog and Smashwords' of titled by independent and self-published authors.
Then there are the free books, and that's where you are especially in a for a treat. Right away you'll notice there are several free listings from familiar major publishers: the "Random House Free Library," "Try Harlequin," and "Pan MacMillan Tasters" each has its branded free listings, but it is worth noting that the Pan MacMillan titles are not books at all but the same kind of free samples that you would fine for free in the Kindle or iBooks Store.
But those freebies are just the tip of the iceberg compared with what you'll find if you tap on Project Gutenberg, Feedbooks, or Munsey's: thousands of free titles including the world's great classics, for searching, browsing, sorting and free downloading to your reading device, free and easy, just as Huck Finn would say. Alongside these listings, just for a little fun to get you started, you'll also see a link entitled "Now a Major Motion Picture!"
Okay, I've led you down the path and opened the gate. Now it's time for you to step in and do a little exploring -- and free reading -- of your own!