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Project Gutenberg (PG) is a volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works, as well as to "encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks." It was founded in 1971 by American writer Michael S. Hart and is the oldest digital library. Most of the items in its collection are the full texts of books in the public domain. The Project tries to make these as free as possible, in long-lasting, open formats that can be used on almost any computer. As of 22 May 2021, Project Gutenberg had reached 65,405 items in its collection of free eBooks.
The releases are available in plain text, but other formats, such as HTML, PDF, EPUB, MOBI, and Plucker are included wherever possible. Most releases are in the English language, but many non-English works are also available. There are multiple affiliated projects that provide additional content, including region- and language-specific works. Project Gutenberg is closely affiliated with Distributed Proofreaders, an Internet-based community for proofreading scanned texts.
Michael S. Hart began Project Gutenberg in 1971 with the digitization of the United States Declaration of Independence. Hart, a student at the University of Illinois, obtained access to a Xerox Sigma V mainframe computer in the university's Materials Research Lab. Through friendly operators, he received an account with a virtually unlimited amount of computer time; its value at that time has since been variously estimated at $100,000 or $100,000,000. Hart explained he wanted to "give back" this gift by doing something one could consider to be of great value. His initial goal was to make the 10,000 most consulted books available to the public at little or no charge by the end of the 20th century.
This particular computer was one of the 15 nodes on ARPANET, the computer network that would become the Internet. Hart believed one day the general public would be able to access computers and decided to make works of literature available in electronic form for free. He used a copy of the United States Declaration of Independence in his backpack, and this became the first Project Gutenberg e-text. He named the project for Johannes Gutenberg, the fifteenth century German printer who propelled the movable type printing press revolution.
By the mid-1990s, Hart was running Project Gutenberg from Illinois Benedictine College. More volunteers had joined the effort. He manually entered all of the text until 1989 when image scanners and optical character recognition software improved and became more available, making book scanning more feasible. Hart later came to an arrangement with Carnegie Mellon University, which agreed to administer Project Gutenberg's finances. As the volume of e-texts increased, volunteers began to take over the project's day-to-day operations that Hart had run.
Starting in 2004, an improved online catalog made Project Gutenberg content easier to browse, access and hyperlink. Project Gutenberg is now hosted by ibiblio at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Italian volunteer Pietro Di Miceli developed and administered the first Project Gutenberg website and started the development of the Project online Catalog. In his ten years in this role (1994–2004), the Project web pages won a number of awards, often being featured in "best of the Web" listings, and contributing to the project's popularity.
Hart died on 6 September 2011 at his home in Urbana, Illinois, at the age of 64.
In 2000, a non-profit corporation, the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, Inc. was chartered in Mississippi, United States, to handle the project's legal needs. Donations to it are tax-deductible. Long-time Project Gutenberg volunteer Gregory Newby became the foundation's first CEO.
Also in 2000, Charles Franks founded Distributed Proofreaders (DP), which allowed the proofreading of scanned texts to be distributed among many volunteers over the Internet. This effort increased the number and variety of texts being added to Project Gutenberg, as well as making it easier for new volunteers to start contributing. DP became officially affiliated with Project Gutenberg in 2002. As of 2018, the 36,000+ DP-contributed books comprised almost two-thirds of the nearly 60,000 books in Project Gutenberg.
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In July 2007, a new edition of the DVD was released containing over 17,000 books, and in April 2010, a dual-layer DVD was released, containing nearly 30,000 items.
The majority of the DVDs, and all of the CDs mailed by the project, were recorded on recordable media by volunteers. However, the new dual layer DVDs were manufactured, as it proved more economical than having volunteers burn them. As of October 2010, the project has mailed approximately 40,000 discs. As of 2017, the delivery of free CDs has been discontinued, though the ISO image is still available for download.
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The text files use the format of plain text encoded in UTF-8 and are typically wrapped at 65–70 characters, with paragraphs separated by a double line break. In recent decades, the resulting relatively bland appearance and the lack of a markup possibility have often been perceived as a drawback of this format. Project Gutenberg attempts to address this by making many texts available in HTML, ePub, and PDF versions as well. HTML versions of older texts are autogenerated versions. Another not-for-profit project, Standard Ebooks, aims to address these issues with its collection of public domain titles that are formatted and styled. It corrects issues related to design and typography.
In December 1994, Project Gutenberg was criticized by the Text Encoding Initiative for failing to include documentation or discussion of the decisions unavoidable in preparing a text, or in some cases, not documenting which of several (conflicting) versions of a text has been the one digitized.
The selection of works (and editions) available has been determined by popularity, ease of scanning, being out of copyright, and other factors; this would be difficult to avoid in any crowd-sourced project.
In March 2004, an initiative was begun by Michael Hart and John S. Guagliardo to provide low-cost intellectual properties. The initial name for this project was Project Gutenberg 2 (PG II), which created controversy among PG volunteers because of the re-use of the project's trademarked name for a commercial venture.
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- Hart, Michael S. United States Declaration of Independence by United States. Project Gutenberg. Archived from the original on 26 January 2007. Retrieved 17 February 2007.
"The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America by Thomas Jefferson" is the bold heading of the linked webpage twelve years later (6 June 2019). No author but Jefferson is identified, nor is Hart otherwise named. Officially this is Project Gutenberg Ebook #1 (assigned December 1993?), or the current index to multiple formats of the same.
What Ebook #1 actually contains is heavily annotated re-release of the first two e-texts that were released in December 1971 (as by Michael S. Hart?). For more information, open the HTML format, for instance, and search for "December" or "Michael".
- Hart, Michael S. (23 October 2004). "Gutenberg Mission Statement by Michael Hart". Project Gutenberg. Archived from the original on 14 July 2007. Retrieved 15 August 2007.
- Thomas, Jeffrey (20 July 2007). "Project Gutenberg Digital Library Seeks To Spur Literacy". US Department of State, Bureau of International Information Programs. Archived from the original on 14 March 2008. Retrieved 20 August 2007.
- "Project Gutenberg Releases eBook #50,000". Project Gutenberg News. 25 February 2017. Archived from the original on 25 February 2017.
- "Hobbes' Internet Timeline". Archived from the original on 5 May 2009. Retrieved 17 February 2009.
- Hart, Michael S. (August 1992). "Gutenberg:The History and Philosophy of Project Gutenberg". Archived from the original on 29 November 2006. Retrieved 5 December 2006.
- Day, B. H.; Wortman, W. A. (2000). Literature in English: A Guide for Librarians in the Digital Age. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries. p. 170. ISBN 0-8389-8081-3.
- Vara, Vauhini (5 December 2005). "Project Gutenberg Fears No Google". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 9 August 2017. Retrieved 15 August 2007.
- "Gutenberg:Credits". Project Gutenberg. 8 June 2006. Archived from the original on 11 July 2007. Retrieved 15 August 2007.
- "Michael_S._Hart". Project Gutenberg. 6 September 2011. Archived from the original on 17 September 2011. Retrieved 25 September 2011.
- Hane, Paula (2004). "Project Gutenberg Progresses". Information Today. 21 (5). Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2007.
- "The Distributed Proofreaders Foundation". Distributed proofreaders. August 2007. Archived from the original on 21 August 2007. Retrieved 10 August 2007.
- "The CD and DVD Project". Gutenberg. 24 July 2012. Archived from the original on 5 October 2012. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
- According to gutindex-2006 Archived 13 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine, there were 1,653 new Project Gutenberg items posted in the first 33 weeks of 2006. This averages out to 50.09 per week. This does not include additions to affiliated projects.
- For a listing of the categorized books, see: "Category:Bookshelf". Project Gutenberg. 28 April 2007. Archived from the original on 11 July 2007. Retrieved 18 August 2007.
- "Project Gutenberg Sheet Music | Manchester-by-the-Sea Public Library". Manchesterpl.org. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
- Various Project Gutenberg FAQs allude to this. See, for example: "File Formats FAQ". Archived from the original on 2 November 2012. Retrieved 2 November 2012.
You can view or edit ASCII text using just about every text editor or viewer in the world. [...] Unicode is steadily gaining ground, with at least some support in every major operating system, but we're nowhere near the point where everyone can just open a text based on Unicode and read and edit it.
- "The Guide to PGTEI". Project Gutenberg. 12 April 2005. Archived from the original on 18 May 2013. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
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- "The Project Gutenberg Weekly Newsletter". Project Gutenberg. 10 December 2003. Archived from the original on 11 May 2011. Retrieved 8 June 2008.
- Perry, Ruth (2007). "Postscript about the Public Libraries". Modern Language Association. Archived from the original on 9 August 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2007.
- Lorenzen, Michael (2002). "Deconstructing the Philanthropic Library: The Sociological Reasons Behind Andrew Carnegie's Millions to Libraries". Modern Language Association. Archived from the original on 13 August 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2007.
- Walker, Joseph (30 November 2013). Information Technology and Collection Management for Library User Environments. ISBN 9781466647404.
- Pegoraro, Rob (30 November 2010). "Amazon charges Kindle users for free Project Gutenberg e-books". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 5 May 2017. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
- "Court Order to Block Access in Germany". Project Gutenberg Library Archive Foundation. Archived from the original on 4 March 2018. Retrieved 4 March 2018.
- "OLG Frankfurt judgment of 30 April 2019".
- Boumphrey, Frank (July 2000). "European Literature and Project Gutenberg". Cultivate Interactive. Archived from the original on 14 July 2007. Retrieved 15 August 2007.
- Partick Lucas Austin (20 June 2017). "Standard eBooks is a Gutenberg Project You'll Actually Use". LifeHacker.com. Retrieved 20 October 2020.
- Michael Sperberg-McQueen, "Textual Criticism and the Text Encoding Initiative", 1994, "Textual Criticism and the Text Encoding Initiative". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 28 July 2015., retrieved 25 July 2015.
- Hoffmann, Sebastian (2005). Grammaticalization And English Complex Prepositions: A Corpus-based Study (1st ed.). Routledge. ISBN 0-415-36049-8. OCLC 156424479.
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- "Gutenberg:Partners, Affiliates and Resources". Project Gutenberg. 17 July 2007. Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2007.
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- "Project Gutenberg Canada". Archived from the original on 18 January 2016. Retrieved 20 August 2007.
- "Project Gutenberg Consortia Center". 2004. Archived from the original on 9 August 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2007.
- "Projekt Gutenberg-DE". Spiegel Online. 1994. Archived from the original on 30 June 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2007.
- "Project Gutenberg Europe". EUnet Yugoslavia. 2005. Archived from the original on 20 August 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2007.
- Kirps, Jos (22 May 2007). "Project Gutenberg Luxembourg". Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2007.
- Riikonen, Tapio (28 February 2005). "Projekti Lönnrot". Archived from the original on 10 August 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2007.
- "Project Gutenberg of the Philippines". Archived from the original on 24 August 2007. Retrieved 20 August 2007.
- "Project Gutenberg Russia". Archived from the original on 24 May 2012. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
- "Partners, Affiliates and Resources". Archived from the original on 13 November 2012. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
- "Project Gutenberg Self-Publishing Press". Archived from the original on 2 March 2016. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
- "Project Gutenberg launches self-publishing library". RT Book Reviews. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
- "Domain Availability – Registration Information". GoDaddy. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
- "Project Gutenberg of Taiwan". Archived from the original on 11 May 2011. Retrieved 5 April 2009.
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