When I first got my iPad and began to explore ebooks, I scoffed at friends who were all about free ebook downloads. "They're all ancient," I thought, "who wants to read that?" Yes, a librarian who was being a dumbhead about the classics. Gosh, sometimes I am so dense. In any case, I'm now getting a daily list of all the books in the public domain that have been added to the Project Gutenberg electronic book collection, and you know, there really is some good stuff there!
"Public Domain" is a legal concept -- under United States law, creators (or assignees) automatically own the right to decide what happens to their creative works as long as they live, and the right extends to the creator's estate for 75 more years. After that, unless an extension has been granted, that creative work goes into the public domain -- it is owned by the people.
Project Gutenberg began in the 1980s as a labor of love by a man named Michael Hart. Since the beginning, PG volunteers have hand-typed and proof-read thousands of public domain texts, in many languages. The first PG electronic books were computer only, but now almost every title is available in Kindle, Nook, iPad and other e-reader compatible formats. Some even include full color illustrations!
Below is just a tiny sample of the public domain books you can download for free from Project Gutenberg. The annotations are mine (a drawback to the project is that there's no synopsis or other description for any of the titles, so using a few research skills, and Wikipedia, does come in handy). The PG catalog also includes audiobooks (both human-read and computer-read), and if you'd like to practice reading in Yiddish, Norwegian, Tagalog, or any of 60+ other written languages, PG has ebooks for you too.
If you have an eReader, but aren't quite sure how to go about downloading from Project Gutenberg (or for that matter, from your Atlanta area public library), zap me a message, come on by the library and we'll try to get you set up. It's one of those tricky things that, once you know how, it's not so hard, but a helping hand is really really useful in getting started.
Are you planning to read any classics over the sumer? On paper, or "pad?"