Beyond Print

Being the big guy in the world of the printing press, the namesake of this web site was definitely about print. But the site brings the spirit of it up to date.

As the great advancement of the printing press opened up literature for a far greater audience, Project Gutenberg has been bringing it to greater numbers since 1971. Sometimes ebooks are easily mistaken as a fairly new thing, having exploded with the advent of mobile devices. But this is what the project has been up to, and according to its wiki entry, this massive library currently serves up over 60,000 texts.

The main collection in PG includes works that have entered the public domain because their copyright term is over. So the books are generally at least 80 years old. This is why they can be offered for free. Information on the page does note that there is a collection of books by modern authors as well, along with a growing set of audio books.

Not only is the project's idea of making books available about creating and giving them away, but it is doing so in a way that is usable on the widest range of technology possible. That is instead of in a cramped proprietary manner as things frequently happen. Not all of their publications are the same, but they mostly come in plain text, html, pdf, kindle, and sometimes other formats, so there should be little to no question that there is something you will be able to read.

Though GP is a great thing, some things are helpful to know about it for the highest likelihood of success with it. If you want a book with tables, charts, sketches or other non-text information, it will probably be incomplete in plain-text and some other formats-- so be certain to check and get the format you need. PDF is likely the most complete you will find. Another thing to be aware of is that the site is very alert to bots and automated download systems. My connection is frequently mis-identified as such and bounced, though the site usually allows time to find at least one item and download it (there is apparently a workaround for this, but I have not had the time to give it a try). Finally, project information on the site does note that the public domain status of publications available is based on United States copyright laws, so those of us outside the U.S. should use the materials with some awareness of the relative local copyright situation.

Classic homeschoolers will probably be the most frequent to visit for the greats within the Project Gutenberg collection. Wholehearted and standard homeschoolers will certainly find interest in documents like the U.S. Constitution and others. But Project Gutenberg is great for the general reading and research needs of families in almost any approach to learning at home. Project Gutenberg is a volunteer effort, so please help them out for the service they provide. There is usually a donate button around the home page, and I'm sure they have other opportunities as well.

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