Project Gutenberg, Librivox, and The Internet Archive

There are three resources on the internet that may interest you if you are a book lover.


The first is Project Gutenberg which is a large resource containing texts of both fiction and nonfiction that are in the public domain.  Project Gutenberg, the first digital library, was founded in 1971 by Michael S. Hart (who died in 2011).  Hart believed that people would have access to digital resources one day (though the internet didn’t exist back then), so he began to type out the texts of various documents for conversion to computer files.  He switched to optical character recognition (OCR) software to digitize books when OCR became reliable in the late-1980s.  The site contains over 45,000 free e-books.  You can access a list of the top 100 downloaded books and the top 100 downloaded authors here.

Project Gutenberg also provides audio book versions of many of the works in its catalog.  Some of the voices are computer generated while other books are read by human volunteers.  You can find out more here.


Librivox also provides audio versions of public domain books.  It was set up in 2005 by Hugh McGuire and has a congenial relationship with Project Gutenberg.  All 7,800 audio books provided by Librivox are read by volunteers.  You will often find two or more versions of the same book with each being read by a different person.  Take time to listen to all of them since the voice of one reader may be much more pleasant to you than  another.

Internet Archive

The Internet Archive, founded by Brewster Kahle in 1996, is probably the most ambitious project of all in that it offers access to books, music, “moving images” (such as movies), TV news, and audio books.  Its stated mission is to provide “universal access to all knowledge.”  It is, among other things, one of the largest book digitizers in the world.  Its offerings are so vast that you would do well to read the Wikipedia article about it before you use it.  The article discusses all aspects of the Internet Archive and can guide you to its many sites.  I am a fan of old time radio, and have accessed many delightful programs through Internet Archive, but I have limited knowledge of most other areas of this huge data repository.

Some of you like to listen to audio books while driving, especially on long trips, I suspect, so let me suggest that you use the above resources if you have a tablet such as an iPad.  If you have cellular access through your tablet, you can pull up an audio book and listen to it while you drive.  If both your tablet and car radio have Bluetooth technology you can link them together and listen through your car radio.  If you have an auxiliary input on your car radio you can plug one end of an audio cable into the headphone output jack on your tablet, and plug the other end into the auxiliary jack on your radio.  The audio cable can be obtained at many stores for a few dollars.

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