New at iTunes U: Free E-Books

You can now get free e-books on iTunes U. Apple announced today that Oxford, Rice, and the Open University have all added digital books to the lectures and other materials traditionally available on the popular educational-content platform.

iTunes U had not offered e-books before today’s announcement, an Apple spokeswoman said. She declined to elaborate on the company’s new push.

From Oxford, the new trove of e-books includes Shakespeare’s entire First Folio. The Open University added 100 interactive books, with 200 more to come by the end of the year. Rice published 18 of the most popular textbooks from Connexions, its open-education project, including titles on business and computing.

That content was already available for free, but Joel Thierstein, executive director of Connexions, said its inclusion on iTunes U was still a big deal. “It’s a way for institutions to become familiar with open-education textbooks without having to find our site,” he said.

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