Project Gutenberg is an online resource library of all the works in the public domain. It was founded by Michael Hart in 1971 in an attempt to coordinate a worldwide effort to create digital versions of the world’s classic literature. Until this point, Project Gutenberg has been focused on researching the copyright information of classic works, as well as creating e-book versions of the work and making them available to the public. However, Project Gutenberg has just announced that it has created a new facet to its website, the Authors Community Cloud Library. Authors can now upload — and distribute — their self-published works.
This move, mirroring the rising swell of authors who are turning to self-publishing, really gives Project Gutenberg a chance to grow their library of digital works. In the past, Project Gutenberg e-books have always been in the public domain. However, self-published authors who opt into the Authors Community Cloud Library will retain all their rights to their works, reports Barbara Quint in her post about the development on the blog Information Today. Furthermore, the system sounds like it will be easy for authors to use, by simply uploading their e-books in a PDF format. (The e-books that will be available to readers will also be hosted in this format, which means that booklovers can expect them to be compatible with most e-reader platforms.)
It’s not just the growing collection that is a sign of the times, the Authors Community Cloud Library also has a social networking component. Readers can leave comments, reviews and feedback to authors. Additionally, each e-book will have its own page where a reader can learn more about the work, give it a star rating and leave their thoughts.
However, with all these new developments ahead, one thing isn’t changing — these e-books, like those classics available from the Project Gutenberg website, will be free. You can visit the site, search the archives and download e-reads and register in order to participate on the site all at no cost. Which means that the pool of inexpensive e-reads has just gotten much, much larger.