Project Gutenberg for CoralLevang (part 1)
Some time ago, CoralLevang asked me to review Project Gutenberg. I thought it was a good idea. I still do. I’ve put it off because I procrastinate out of habit and also because the site has a lot of features I don’t normally use and know little about. That meant I had to investigate them.
The Reader’s Digest version is that Project Gutenberg (named after the guy who invented the printing press in Europe) seeks to make electronic copies of public domain works. These are available free to the public in multiple formats, though the organization does accept donations. The work of adding books and proofreading is done by volunteers.
The database includes not only text—often with or without illustrations—but some images and audio books as well as sheet music. I have not used the audio books or sheet music so cannot speak to their quality.
The late founder, Michael Hart, invented the e-book in 1971. He saw that whatever was entered into a computer stayed there and could be replicated as many times as desired, whether that was the Bible (Johannes Gutenberg’s choice) or Alice in Wonderland , or what later came to be known as viruses. To assure as many people as possible have easy access to the works entered (as opposed to the viruses), Hart chose to encode the e-books in what he referred to as “plain vanilla ASCII.”
The catalogue is searchable by author name and the name of work. It is also arranged by topic, but frankly I’ve found this arrangement to be disappointing. On the main page, they list books that have become newly available and a link will take the curious the 100 most frequently downloaded books. I’ve not found these to be particularly useful, but they apparently are to someone.
To be continued.
Project Gutenberg is available here .
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