When I finally take the plunge on an eBook reader I want an epic collection of public domain classic and/or important and/or utilitarian books to live on it. I'm looking for a particular sort of resource for this quest.
I'm not looking for specific suggestions of individual works. Indeed the problem is that the available range specific suggestions on what's important in the text field is so vast. I'm looking for resources that provide some packaging along with some context.
The Harvard Classics
is an example of what I'm looking for. The qualities that make it desirable to me are:
1. It was curated with a specific intent to present a unified collection of essential works.
2. It provides context (in the case of the Classics, through the readers guides and lectures in the last two volumes) on the collection, individually and as a whole.
Bonus points (but not required) if it is online, provides links to the (free, legal) eBooks in question, and if the above-mentioned "context" is itself something that can be freely and legally downloaded and included with the works.
However I'd prefer more resources that point to complete original works rather than excerpting and anthologizing as the Harvard Classics does.
Extra bonus points for resources that point to collections that go further out there than those great works of classical literature that would be recognized as such by Professor Stodgypants of Cambridge as of the late 19th century - broader cultural base, non-western, counterculture/diverse etc. all very good. I'm also very interested in curated lists/collections of less purely literary works - specifically on history, politics, and (something I've little luck with so far) pragmatic, utilitarian reference works (though I recognize there is more of a problem with the material being outdated there).
It need not be online - i.e. it could be contained in a conventional book I'll have to go to the library for - if it fits the other bills.