Project Gutenberg, public domain titles free to be read and re-distributed in the U.S. (but not necessarily throughout the world)

Project Gutenberg

Our tour of open reading sites begins at the beginning, with Project Gutenberg. The oldest (1971) of such collections, it currently has a collection of 53,000+ volumes. This number is expected to grow significantly in 2019, when changes in the copyright law allow more books to become available. Originally, founder Michael Hart’s intent was to focus of the collection was books in English in the public domain.  Recently, though, several European languages have been added. The history of the project is available at Wikipedia and on Project Gutenberg’s site.

As to the more technical aspects of the site, PJ  has used the industry-standard EPUB format since 2009. Therefore, items from their collection are not limited to a single reader. Also, all titles are Digital Rights Management-free.  The homepage for the site’s newsletter, www.gutenbergnews.org can also be reached in the “About Us” section near the bottom of the homepage. Newsletters are searchable and keep users apprised of developments in the collection, technical news, and the social impact of the site.

Searching the collection can be done by entering an author, title or subject into the search box on the homepage. However, the site also provides a detailed alphabetical list of subjects on a page titled “Bookshelf”. Navigating the site is straightforward and accessing the collection is easily accomplished. Project Gutenberg‘s collection remains–even after decades–a foundation for anyone seeking an unhindered, seamless reading experience.


Ari Sigal received his MLS in 1985 and has done reference and administrative work in public, academic and special libraries. Since 2004, he has worked for Catawba Valley Community College (Hickory), NC, first as Library Director (to 2009) and currently as the Reference and Instruction Librarian. He is also Curator of the Gilde-Marx Collection for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, one of the largest of its kind in North Carolina and offers an annual program on topics related to its material. He is the editor of Advancing Library Instruction (IGI-Global, 2013) and also serves on the editorial advisory board for the  Encyclopedia of Information Science and  Technology, also from IGI.

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