Download Free Ebooks from Project Gutenberg


I think it’s fair to say that ebooks have successfully made it into a mainstream media. While the Amazon Kindle and other e-readers have paved the way for ebooks in the western parts of the world, they have been a common thing in many regions of Asia before that.

What I don’t understand about that is that we still have to buy ebook format and a paper-based book separately in most cases and besides that, I noticed that sometimes the digital format is even pricier than the paperback. Why is that? There aren’t even print costs involved.

That’s why I have been looking for a way to get ebooks for free. Some dubious portals let you download illegal copies of books but looking at those, it’s much more likely that you can download some free malware instead. I don’t recommend such unlawful websites at all. So is there no other way? Here’s what I found out.

Free ebooks from Project Gutenberg

There is a website that is called Project Gutenberg, named after Johannes Gutenberg, a German Printer, born around 1400 in Mainz, and they let you browse and download ebooks for free. What’s the catch? No catch really. They offer mostly older works, of which the copyright has already expired, and some newer works if the author has given his or her permission for such a distribution. They declare all these works to be legal in the US but might not be in all other countries. The terms of use should always be checked first if you’re from outside the US.

Reading Ereader Book Old Ebooks Free Project Gutenberg Kindle File Books Expired Copyright Where to download

It’s not even a new project. Michael Hart started his work in 1971 when he digitized the United States Declaration of Independence and put it on one of the fifteen nodes on the ARPANET at that time. I suppose that makes it one of the first projects of its kind and everything is still available today and the content database is evergrowing. Unfortunately, Hart died in 2011, but his work still lives on.

When you found the book that you’re looking for, on the Project Gutenberg website, you’ll be mostly offered to download the book in various formats, sometimes even with pictures. You can choose between HTML (reading it directly in your browser), EPUB, Kindle, or a UTF-8 text file. Most books are made available in the English language, but sometimes they also have contents in other languages. Sounds nice, right? And they not only do this for a couple of books, Project Gutenberg offers over 56,000 free ebooks for you.

Not sure what to look for? Check out The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe as an example.

Not a book work? Go for audio books instead!

Project Gutenberg also points you to free audiobooks, if there are any readings made in the public domain. Mostly these come from the readers at LibriVox. Usually, those people contribute readings for free, and they are not professionals so quality could vary, but all the audiobooks I checked so far were all fine.

Please note that the audiobooks are also only readings of books with expired copyright. You will not find the latest bestseller there. If you are looking for the most recent audiobooks of commercial works that are still being sold, you can check out Audible (by Amazon).

I absolutely love the project, and I’m really thankful for all the work that was put into the database by all the volunteers and contributors. It shows the spirit of the original Internet, and I hope it stays online forever. What do you think about Project Gutenberg? Drop us your thoughts below in the comments!

Photo credit: Gerd Altmann / Henryk Niestrój
Editorial notice: The Audible banner is part of the Amazon affiliate program. If you visit the page and decide to go for a trial period of using the service, we might receive a percentage of the price.

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Christopher Isak
Christopher Isak
Hi there and thanks for reading my article! I'm Chris the founder of TechAcute. I write about technology news and share experiences from my life in the enterprise world. Drop by on Twitter and say 'hi' sometime. ;)
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