Today I want to talk about Project Gutenberg (http://www.gutenberg.org/ ) – a pioneer in the ebook field, much in the same way the Gutenberg press revolutionized printing in the mid-1400s. According to the Project Gutenberg page, the founder, and inventor of ebooks, Michael Hart, made the first electronic text available in 1971. It was the Declaration of Independence.
Project Gutenberg takes Public Domain Works and puts them in electronic format. Over the years, that format has grown from simple plain text to html, kindle, epub and others. Some are also available as audio. As a reader, with over 38,000 texts to choose from, Project Gutenberg is a delight. As a writer and researcher, it is a treasure! In the past, I have downloaded a book on the rules of dueling in the 1700s. I recently downloaded Ladies on Horseback, instruction for women riders in the 1880s. Without doing a major road trip and serious hunting, where else could I find such gems?
I first discovered Project Gutenberg in 2002 and thought it was fascinating. I didn’t realize how valuable it could be until 2003, when my son was in high school. He came to me at 8:00 on a Sunday night and said he needed three books to bring in to English class. The teacher would then choose one of the three books for them to do their report on. I immediately sent him up to the attic to search our books since I knew we had at least two of the titles. He came back down with one (A real shocker, right?) The library was closed and there are no book stores nearby. Since the books were classics, I introduced him to Project Gutenberg. Yep. They had the books , although only available in plain text way back then. He loaded them on a disk and took them to school. The teacher had never heard of such a thing and had my son pull the books up on the computer.
I encourage you to explore Project Gutenberg and see what you can discover.