APP WATCH: British Library 19th Century Books

Whether you use Kindle and iBooks, you'll end up paying for the majority of the books you download. That's not the case with the British Library 19th Century Books app for Apple's iPad.

But it might not be what you are after. According to the BBC, the app features 19th century books which happen to be both in the British Library archives and in the public domain. Which is why they're free. No ebooks either – these are all scans of the original publications, so you get to read the books the way the authors intended all those years ago. That's great for historical perspective, but it's not always great on the eyes.

Around 1,000 books are available on the free app, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. According to the British Library, a paid-for app will be launched this summer with a massive 60,000 titles. Not sure who will have time to read all 60,000 – we'll struggle to get through a fraction of the 1,000 here in the next couple of months!

It is a good app though, without doubt. Get it and you can search the 1,000-title collection, browse titles by subject, read commentary on selected titles, view images of original maps, see author inscriptions and margin notes, create favorite title lists and best of all, download books for offline reading. So if you fancy Frankenstein, Sherlock Holmes or something a little more niche for your summer break, download this now, especially while it's still free. An Android version is also in the works.

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