5 Great Things about Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg Discussion


Project Gutenberg is the Holy Grail of web sites for readers looking for free ebooks. There are thousands of books on a wide variety of topics, simply waiting to be browsed and downloaded. So the next time you’re in the market for something to read, or the next time you want to read on a budget, check it out!

*You should, however, note this tidbit from their Terms of Use:

Our eBooks may be freely used in the United States because most are not protected by U.S. copyright law, usually because their copyrights have expired. They may not be free of copyright in other countries. Readers outside of the United States must check the copyright terms of their countries before downloading or redistributing our eBooks. We also have a number of copyrighted titles, for which the copyright holder has given permission for unlimited non-commercial worldwide use.

Project Gutenberg Screenshot

1. Large Selection

As you can see from the screenshot of Project Gutenberg’s homepage, they boast over 54,000 free books.  That’s enough variety to offer something for everyone.  Many readers associate Project Gutenberg with out of copyright classics, but you can also find poetry, plays, children’s books, and nonfiction titles on just about any topic you’re interested in, from music to law to history to animals.

2. Multiple Formats

Project Gutenberg offers users multiple ways to access books, from Kindle formats to epub to HTML versions you can read right in your browser.  You can even choose whether to view the text with or without images if you want to save on space or downloading time. There’s also a whole category for audiobooks, and you can pick between computer generated or human read.

Here’s an example of some the options you get when you go to download a book:

Project Gutenberg Download Page

3. Many Ways to Browse

If there’s a certain book you’re looking for, you can easily search the title or author.  However, Project Gutenberg offers other ways to browse that can seem as serendipitous as walking into your local bookstore and just taking a walk around.  For instance, you can browse “Bookshelves” and then find curated lists on topics like Christmas, Detective Fiction, English Civil War, Godey’s Lady Book, etc. These can lead to sub-lists where you can pick among fiction, nonfiction, plays, music, and more.

The site also offers opportunities to browse by language, author, title, or recently posted.

4. Access in Other Languages

If your’e not looking to read in English, Project Gutenberg still has something for you. They highlight books in German, French, Italian, and Portuguese, but their offerings are actually more extensive than that.  On their “Browse by Category” page, they list languages they have more than 50 books in, as well as large number of languages that they currently have fewer than 50 books in:

Project Gutenberg Categories

5. Opportunities to Volunteer

Finally, if you love books and want to be a part of this project (or even just want something bookish to beef up your resume), you can volunteer. For instance, you can become a proofreader for the project here. Other volunteer opportunities are explained here. (You can also just donate money, if you’re into that.)

Do you use Project Gutenberg? What books have you read so far?


14 thoughts on “5 Great Things about Project Gutenberg

  1. Captain's Quarters says:

    Interestingly enough I hadn’t used the site in years but was looking for a specific title and so went to see if they had it. I was utterly impressed by how much that site has grown in the time frame that I haven’t used it. I was super excited that I can download them for me kindle and get the illustrations. Hooray! Me biggest gripe back in the day was the formatting. Not that I complained too much because it was free and easy to use. But I love when technology improves. Arrrr!
    x The Captain


    • Briana says:

      That’s great! I haven’t used it quite as much as I’d like to, but that’s partially because I currently have pretty easy access to a library and generally find physical books easier to read.


  2. Carrie @ Cat on the Bookshelf says:

    I use it for school. I know it has the ebook option, but I’ve never tried downloading the ebooks of those texts.


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