Project Gutenberg Hits 40 Thousand eBooks

Project Gutenberg Hits 40 Thousand eBooks Digitization Freebies

Broad-billed Parrot

Project Gutenberg may have long since been surpassed by the Internet Archive and Google Books, but the granddaddy of all digitization programs is still chugging along and uploading more free ebooks.

Today they announced that they'd released their 40 thousandth title. (Of course, this does include some duplicates and withdrawn titles so the count is slightly off.)

Book #40k was originally published in 1905 with the title Extinct birds : an attempt to unite in one volume a short account of those birds which have become extinct in historical times : that is, within the last six or seven hundred years: to which are added a few which still exist, but are on the verge of extinction. The author was the second Baron Rothschild, and according to Wikipedia the contents of the ebook were drawn from Rothschild's lecture On extinct and vanishing birds, which was published in the Proceedings of the 4th International Ornithological Congress 1905 in London.

Project Gutenberg Hits 40 Thousand eBooks Digitization Freebies


The original print run for this book was limited to only 300 copies, and it had  45 color paintings and 4 black and white sketches. You can find it on Project Gutenberg, and the Internet Archive has their own copy.

This book is also a very good example of how times have changed. It went from only being available in research libraries and private collections to being available any time and every where.

BTW, I'd recommend that you go get the copy from the IA. The image and general ebook quality of the PG produced ebook is disappointing, and that goes double when you consider that the IA has had this ebook since 2008.

About Nate Hoffelder (11375 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

7 Comments on Project Gutenberg Hits 40 Thousand eBooks

  1. Thanks for the tip, that is definitely a book I want on my Fire!

  2. So how many out of copyright books does Internet Archive and Google books have?

  3. It’s not really fair to just compare IA with Gutenberg straight across. IA does a great service, and they have a huge catalog, but their books are mostly unusable for casual reading. IA has mostly PDF scans that are poor for small devices, and their extracted texts are “preliminary” at best. But as a source of books to be fixed and groomed by worker-bees for the general public, IA is great. Gutenberg, on the other hand, has ~40k books that have fewer errors and are immediately usable on most devices in a variety of formats.

    • Except that in this case the IA has a more useful PDF. The PG copy has small images and no TOC. What’s more, the PG downloadable files are only marginally useful as source for converting to another format. There’s too much crap stuck in the txt and html files.

    • Sturmund Drang // 8 July, 2012 at 7:11 pm // Reply

      My experience is pretty much the same as “the rodent’s”. The only time I go to IA is when I am so desperate for a particular book that I’m willing to do the translation from go6b|dygooIc to english in my head. (Google Books I know nothing about as I avoid all things google.) Gutenberg could serve me well on a desert island. I’ve downloaded the 39,500 Gutenberg opus to my netbook and can die happy.

  4. Sturmund Drang // 8 July, 2012 at 7:12 pm // Reply

    I meant “corpus” of course. I’m tired. Worked all night.

  5. It occurs to me what the big problem with PG is…. They don’t provide good book descriptions. It should be possible to write a one or two paragraph summary of what the book is about. Instead the book page is about as empty as can be. For example. What the heck is this book about? It assumes that the person knows in advance what they are downloading. (Their bookshelf project attempts to rectify that somewhat).

    The funny thing is that producing a book takes a few hours of volunteer time. Surely, someone could find the time to do a better description (with possibly a teaser). Fortunately, this is a fairly easy problem to solve (and I expect PG will make progress albeit slowly).

    Another complaint. The files need to have human-readable names. It’s gotten to the point where my dropbox ebook folder contains so much mystery meat that it’s not worth the effort to keep track of. What I do is immediately rename the file whenever I save it from a browser.

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