Public Domain Books

About Project Gutenberg

The books featured on this site are based on the original Project Gutenberg e-texts. Project Gutenberg was started back in 1971 by Michael Hart at the University of Illinois, who was given an operator's account with free time to spent Xerox Sigma V mainframe. Michael wanted to do something worthwhile, and got interested in storage, retrieval and searching of what was available on paper in libraries.

Michael's idea was this; once a computer is stored digitally, then everyone around the world can make an easy copy of it. So the electronic texts (e-texts, or eTexts) were intended to be stored in the easiest possible way; "Plain Vanilla ASCII" (ASCII for "American Standard Code for Information Interchange"). Furthermore, the goal is to produce a text 99.9% accurate – there is no need to make it perfect. The etext should be the foundation for others to build upon.

About Authorama

My intent is to take the etexts available and convert them to HTML (to be more exact, XHTML1.0 Strict – served as content-type "text/html" for now). I believe this to be the format of the future, as it's simple, yet includes basic structures like "heading", "emphasis" and so on. XHTML Strict is also device-independet; I deliver a stylesheet for screen and print, but it can easily be override or ignored, leaving only the basic structure. My goal is to create the simplest version with an easily readable layout (e.g. you won't find any background-images imitating real-world paper, like on many other ebooks websites). "Plain Vanilla HTML", if you want, because I find the "Plain Vanilla ASCII" somewhat hard to read online. My second goal is to not only make the texts available online, but to also ensure they are stored in a way so to be easily found by search-engines. It's rare that one would want to do a complete reading session on todays computers (this might change in the future), but it's very possible that someone is looking for the origin of a phrase, or detailed information on a given topic, and doesn't find the right information online. That's why Authorama includes features like search-term highlighting upon arriving on a sub-chapter of a book from a search-engine.

More background information on Authorama can be found on the About Authorama page. Feedback is welcome.