Project Gutenberg is a volunteered initiative, aimed at making popular books and cultural works more accessible to everyone by digitizing them and converting them to e-books. With over 45,000 public domain books available, it is the largest online free e-book collection. The books are available in almost all popular e-book formats (EPUB, MOBI, PDF etc.), and can be freely downloaded or read online. You can also save your books directly to your cloud storage accounts.
This website contains books of all major types and genres, like literature, fiction, history, music, and even references. The books can be easily searched via the website’s homepage, and if you want, you can also download an entire collection. To top it all, you can even request a CD/DVD to be mailed to you free of charge, if you can’t download for some reason. Sounds pretty awesome, doesn’t it? Let’s find out more
Project Gutenberg: The Homepage
Project Gutenberg is freely accessible to anyone and everyone. All you need to have is an Internet connection. The website is a fairly basic one, but is easy to navigate and quite functional. It seems that the website developers have intentionally kept the design simple, in order to ensure maximum compatibility with all major web browsers. Here’s how Project Gutenberg’s homepage looks like:
Pretty minimal, ain’t it? As I mentioned before, the website is pretty basic, but still intuitive and functional at the same time. It’s primarily divided into two panes. The left pane lets you search the book catalog as well as the website to find the stuff that you’re looking for, and also contains some important links. The wider right pane consists of a header with some handy links that let you browse the books either by categories, or go through the entire catalog. There are also a few other links that point to important information like Terms of Service etc. Below the header, there’s a listing of some of the latest additions to the library, illustrated by their cover images.
How to search for free e-books?
Project Gutenberg hosts a really big collection of free e-books, which means that searching something that you want can be pretty time consuming. But thankfully, it isn’t. You can either search directly from the search book catalog box in the left pane of the homepage, or your can browse the book categories to find what you want. Searching can be accomplished using a variety of parameters, like Book Name, Author Name etc. Here’s a little animated graphic, illustrating search from the homepage, using Author’s Name as a search string:
You can also browse through the entire bookshelf if you’re not sure about what you want to find. Simply click the Book categories link on the homepage header, and you can browse through a plethora of curated categories, or bookshelves. Check out the following animated graphic to get an idea of just how many categories you can search through:
How to download free e-books from Project Gutenberg?
Once you’ve scooped through the massive content collection to find the e-book that you’re looking for, you can straightaway download it. There’s no need to create any accounts or anything. To download any e-book, simply click on it, and its download page appears. From this page, you can download the book in the format that you like. You can also read it online, in your browser. Check out the screenshot below:
As illustrated by the above screenshot, you can download the e-book in a number of popular formats like EPUB (to read in your favorite ePub reader software), MOBI (for e-book readers like Nook, Kindle etc.), Plain Text etc. You can even read a book online, in your browser in the HTML format. You can share your book directly on social networks via the sharing buttons below the cover image. Cool isn’t it?
You must’ve noticed something in the above screenshot. The download link for each format also has three icons after it. And I’m sure anyone would recognize these icons. So why’re they here? That’s because you can directly save any e-book from Project Gutenberg’s website to your Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive account. All you have to grant Project Gutenberg access to your cloud storage account. How cool is that?
Project Gutenberg: Features Summary
- Largest digital collection of freely available public domain e-books.
- E-books available in a variety of format, and can be read online.
- Free download of constantly updated book collection available via different sources like FTP, BitTorrent etc.
- Collection of books can be requested on DVD, via mail, free of cost.
Project Gutenberg is an incredible free service, not just for book lovers, but for everyone. It makes priceless cultural works easily available to anyone and everyone, all for free. It’s amazing to see how this volunteered initiative has come such a long way. Personally, I think that Project Gutenberg is not just a collection of free e-books, it’s an asset for both the present and future generations; I would call it Wikipedia of eBooks. I suggest you head over to Project Gutenberg’s homepage, you’ll surely find a classic to read.