- Norm Fine's Blog
- By Norman Fine
Now? This instant? Free of charge and legal? Something by a world-class author?
Something perhaps by Somerville and Ross, G.J. Whyte Melville, and other brilliant writers of foxhunting stories as well as classic works of English literature. Many are in the public domain and may be downloaded and freely reproduced.
In 1971, Michael Hart, a student at the University of Illinois, conceived the most wonderful notion. He had access to a computer that was part of the government sponsored research network that ultimately became the Internet. He set himself a goal to make the ten thousand most consulted books available to the public digitally by the end of the twentieth century. He plucked a copy of the Declaration of Independence from his backpack, and it became the first Project Gutenburg e-text. Hart named the project after the German printer Johannes Gutenburg, who revolutionized the printing press.
Today, there are about forty thousand texts in the Gutenburg collection. For most works you have the option to download the full text as an epub to be read online (even with images); you can download Kindle files with or without images; or simply download plain text.