This story was originally posted in August 2019 but has been updated to more directly address COVID-19.

Summer is over, the school year is here, and the annual pilgrimage to the media center for textbooks is rapidly approaching. That journey might look a little different this year, however. With the COVID-19 pandemic still a serious threat, something as simple as getting the right textbooks can become seriously time consuming, and even expensive. Luckily, many internet users have spent years fighting to make books available to anyone, and one of the products of that long struggle is a wonderful organization called Project Gutenberg.

Named after the Gutenberg printing press, the invention that revolutionized medieval Europe by granting easy access to literature to the common people, the organization owes its existence to the fact that, in most cases, US copyright law only applies to books for 70 years after the author’s death. This means that any book published in or before 1950 belongs to everyone, allowing the volunteers that run Project Gutenberg to build up a truly amazing free library of over 60,000 ebooks.

Anyone can download any of the Project Gutenberg books instantly and keep it forever. There are infinite copies of each title so there will be no waiting time, and since the organization does not use DRM (digital rights management) software, you can keep your book forever in any format.

Project Gutenberg books are available on almost any device including desktop computers, chromebooks, or any kind of phone.

Unfortunately, Project Gutenberg is not quite as perfect as it sounds. Many English classes at City use some books published after 1950, so several of your texts may not be available simply because they are not yet old enough to be in the public domain. For example, Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, and The Scarlet Letter are all on Project Gutenberg but Persepolis and The Crucible are not.

Nevertheless, Project Gutenberg is still an amazing resource and we hope that it makes the task of finding English books this year a little bit easier for everyone.

Summer is over, the school year is here, and the annual pilgrimage to the media center for textbooks is rapidly approaching. That journey might look a little different this year, however. With the COVID-19 pandemic still a serious threat, something as simple as getting the right textbooks can become seriously time consuming, and even expensive. Luckily, many internet users have spent years fighting to make books available to anyone, and one of the products of that long struggle is a wonderful organization called Project Gutenberg.

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Named after the Gutenberg printing press, the invention that revolutionized medieval Europe by granting easy access to literature to the common people, the organization owes its existence to the fact that, in most cases, US copyright law only applies to books for 70 years after the author’s death. This means that any book published in or before 1950 belongs to everyone, allowing the volunteers that run Project Gutenberg to build up a truly amazing free library of over 60,000 ebooks.

Anyone can download any of the Project Gutenberg books instantly and keep it forever. There are infinite copies of each title so there will be no waiting time, and since the organization does not use DRM (digital rights management) software, you can keep your book forever in any format.

Project Gutenberg books are available on almost any device including desktop computers, chromebooks, or any kind of phone.

Unfortunately, Project Gutenberg is not quite as perfect as it sounds. Many English classes at City use some books published after 1950, so several of your texts may not be available simply because they are not yet old enough to be in the public domain. For example, Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, and The Scarlet Letter are all on Project Gutenberg but Persepolis and The Crucible are not.

Nevertheless, Project Gutenberg is still an amazing resource and we hope that it makes the task of finding English books this year a little bit easier for everyone.

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Writer of many interests entering my third year at The City Voice. If you have a question about any of my articles, or a topic you want me to write about, please feel free to leave a comment or email me at the.scrivener.chms@gmail.com.