In a somewhat ironic move, the U.S. government has entered into an ebook deal with Apple that will see a range of government reports, documents, and ebooks published in Apple’s iBookstore. The partnership, which was announced earlier this week, coincides with the Department of Justice’s latest legal filings in its anti-trust suit against Apple.
The deal with the Government Printing Office (GPO) will make a wide swath of documents and ebooks available through the iBookstore. While some government documents are available for free, a number of documents and full-length ebooks are not.
Documents originating from the White House that are currently available free of charge include Economic Report of the President and The President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2013.
Ebooks available for a fee include On Course to Desert Storm, published by the Department of Defense, and Ponzimonium: How Scam Artists are Ripping Off America, published by Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
The partnership is one of many that the agency has struck to make content easily available via several digital channels. The Government Printing Office already has similar partnerships with Google Play, Barnes & Noble, OverDrive, Ingram, and Zinio. Across all its partnerships, the agency has made 250 documents and ebooks available. It expects to add more content to the iBookstore over time.
The Government Printing Office is one of the oldest federal agencies (it celebrated the 150th anniversary of its founding last year) and it is tasked with making the content from various government agencies and all three branches of government available to Americans as well as cataloging and preserving key government documents.
One challenge to locating titles published by the agency in the iBookstore is that there is no consistent author or publisher name for which to search. Authors can include individual government staff members, committees, and entire agencies. Most list the name of the agency that produced the content as its publisher.
In addition to providing content as ebooks, the GPO makes nearly 400,000 documents available for free through the Federal Digital System website (also known as FDsys) – which offers a mobile web app optimized for the iPhone. The agency also makes a copy of the federal budget and a guide to members of Congress available as mobile web apps.