Project Gutenberg: Read the Classics (and more) for Free

visit for copyright-free reads

Project Gutenberg is a volunteer organized digital library of literature and other cultural works. According to their mission statement “The mission of Project Gutenberg is simple: To encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks. This mission is, as much as possible, to encourage all those who are interested in making eBooks and helping to give them away. In fact, Project Gutenberg approves about 99% of all requests from those who would like to make our eBooks and give them away, within their various local copyright limitations. Project Gutenberg is powered by ideas, ideals, and by idealism. Project Gutenberg is not powered by financial or political power. Therefore Project Gutenberg is powered totally by volunteers” (Project Gutenberg Mission Statement).

Project Gutenberg, named after the inventor of the printing press, contains over 50,000 digitized pieces of material. Project Gutenberg’s collection is largely made up of books with copyrights that fall within public domain. This means the items are no longer confined within copyright laws of belonging solely to one person, entity, or publishing body. In most cases their copyrights have lapsed in the United States and their contents are now freely accessible nationwide. This rule applies mostly to classic books with copyrights that have expired. The rule Project Gutenberg generally uses is “any book published anywhere before 1923 is in the public domain in the U.S” (Gutenberg Copyright FAQ). Project Gutenberg does contain some copyrighted material that they have received permission to show for non-commercial worldwide use.

2016-11-09-14_03_36-free-ebooks-by-project-gutenberg-gutenbergThe largest benefit of Project Gutenberg that our students and faculty will find is the large number of text freely available to them through the website. Books are available to download as ePub files (compatible with nooks and many other tablets/handheld devices), kindle books, and even audio books. You can download the material or you can read it right on your computer screen. If you are required to read a classic piece of work for one of your courses it may be freely available to you through Project Gutenberg. Project Gutenberg also contains an assortment of Judaism titles including biographies, bible books, children’s books, music and rabbinic commentaries. It’s a useful resource for both scholarly study and pleasure reading.

Learn more about Project Gutenberg at their website.

Or read these articles:

“Project Gutenberg.” Britannica Academic, Encyclopædia Britannica, 29 Jun. 2011.

Lebert, Marie. “Project Gutenberg, from 1971 to 2005.” Les Dossiers du NEF, 15 Aug. 2005.


Contributed by: Sharell Walker, Librarian, Lander College for Women

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