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Whether you’re a TED devotee or abstract admirer, there’s no denying that the short, engaging video talks are changing how we learn about the world.

The newest way to take in the phenomena: TED Books’ genius new app.

TED Books--short, single-subject e-books that you can read in an hour ($3)--have been around for about a year as Nook or Kindle downloads. But the free new app for iPhone or iPad (Android coming soon) makes them easier to find and the reading process infinitely cooler.

First off, the app supports loads of interactive add-ons, like links to narrative-enhancing maps, videos and music, plus the option to hear the book read aloud. (You can easily switch back to text without losing your place.) Second, users gain access to a new TED Book every two weeks and can subscribe to the minibooks as they would a podcast ($15 for three months). Finally, anyone who signs up within the next 75 days gets the 16-title backlist totally free.

As for the actual books, we’re particularly excited about a treatise on the science of smiling, a lexicographer’s look at wacky new words and phrases (kangatarian, anyone?) and a renowned eco-blogger’s plea for weekday vegetarianism.

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