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Free Digital Books from The World eBook Fair

Everton Publishers’ Genealogy Blog reports that Project Gutenberg and World eBook Library are sponsoring the World eBook Fair.

Project Gutenberg, with the cooperation of many other eBook publishers, is currently sponsoring a month-long eBook Fair. They have made available about 1/3 million books – free of charge – until August 4, 2006.

The World eBook Fair has over 330,000 digital ebooks available for free downloading on “nearly every classic author on the varieties of subjects previously only available through the largest library collections in the world.” Once downloaded, you can use these books, free of charge, indefinitely. Normally, the World eBook Library charges USD $8.95 per year for online access with unlimited personal downloading.

I read a lot of books, and a few years ago I fell in love with my Palm handheld computer, turning it into the perfect reading tool. I use inDev Software’s Tiny Book Reader (TiBR Pro). It allows for reading text, zTXT, or PalmDocs (pdb) files from your handheld’s memory or your storage card. You can adjust the font size and style for easier reading from small to extra-large. You can also set the smooth scrolling rate easily to move the text down the page at your own pace. No more scrapping sounds of turning pages in the middle of the night. No night light on in the night as the Palm has its own backlight, and I rarely lose my place as it stops scrolling as soon as I touch the screen. There is also a free conversion program which will create PalmDoc or zTXT books from some other book versions called TiBR Converter.

I thought I’d check out the free books available through the World eBook Fair. After an attempt with their general search left me in frustration, I found their eBook Collections. You can still search, but the search includes all forums, articles, and other information not directly related to specific books. If you know the specific subject, title or author, then that works, especially if you use the words or phrase wrapped with quote marks. Unfortunately, the site doesn’t believe in web standards for accessibility. Every search or click on a search result pops up a new page. Hitting the eBook Collections list was more successful.

To get to the Collections, scroll part way down the page past the letter to the beginning of the alphabetized collection list.

I found some interesting collections. The Baen Free Library Collection featured hard core science fiction books recommended by Jim Baen, a long time expert in science fiction publishing. Free books included authors like Larry Niven, Andre Norton, Mercedes Lackey, David Weber, and David Drake, including a few published within the past 10 years.

Other interesting free book collections ranged from technical to political and governmental to children’s books. I found some books to download from the Classic Literature Collection, the Cordella Collegiate Bookshelf of Classic Literature, University of Adelaide Library of Web Books of historical novels and text, Etana – CWRU University Library Digital Collection of Earliest Written Texts of the Ancient Near East including religious and historical texts, and Renascence Editions of works printed in English between 1477 and 1799. Take a look to see if there is anything that catches your eye.

The books mostly come in PDF format. In order to use them with the Tibr program, I open them in a PDF reader, select all the text for the entire document, and paste it into a text editor. I save it as a text file and run it through the TiBR converter. Then I upload the converted file to my handheld computer and I read with joy.

A few of the more technical or historical books have not been OCRed, the technique of digitally converting the text image into actual text. They have been scanned and you read the scanned images from within PDF files. Many of these 300-800 page books are saved in sections such as pages 20-40, 41-60, and so on. In order to download the entire book, you have to download each file individually. I tried using a website copier program and it was stopped at the door. When possible, I recommend using the File Save As or Save Target As options from the Right Click menu in your web browser instead of opening each PDF document. These scanned-image-only documents are frustrating to work with, but they do capture the images, fonts, and layout of the original books.

There are some really good books, and many of the older books listed are also available via the Gutenberg Press Project. I’ve included a list of other online resources for downloading free books below.

Reportedly, this ends August 4, 2006, so go get your free books and have a good read or three.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network

Member of the 9Rules Blogging Network


  1. Posted July 18, 2006 at 1:13 am | Permalink

    Are you still using a Palm? What model are you currently using?

  2. Posted July 18, 2006 at 3:36 am | Permalink

    Thank you for letting us know about this book fair, Lorelle. I really needed to read a few books recommended by my friends and teachers. I found most of them in their collection. It is pretty diverse. I would recommend all of the readers of this blog to at least give them a peek.

  3. Posted July 18, 2006 at 4:31 am | Permalink

    hey cool. I was following project Gutenberg for sometime a couple of years ago. Somewhere down the line lost touch. Its amazing! they have so many titles in there!

  4. Posted July 18, 2006 at 6:18 am | Permalink


    Yes, I’m still using my Palm. It’s an old one as I’ve been waiting PATIENTLY for a new more powerful version like the LifeDrive but better and slimmer, but it appears that handheld computers have totally lost interest in the United States market. I may have to buy something from overseas. Time to start hunting.

    I’ve been reading books on my handheld Palm T for over three or four years and loving every moment. Going back to a “real book” is really hard, heavy, and inconvenient now. Because I travel so much, two things have saved our backs and luggage weights (since they lowered the weight per suitcase): MP3s and digital books. Unfortunately, digital equipment has made up for the lost weight. 😉

  5. Posted July 18, 2006 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

    I wouldn’t of known about this had I not read your blog. I’ll be sure to cite you when I blog about this.:)

  6. Posted January 17, 2007 at 2:24 am | Permalink

    Hey Lorelle,

    Thanks for your resource, i stumble upon your website while surfing for ebooks library…this is definitely a greate resource…a great deal too..thanks for that
    recommendation…looks like i will not be buying books for long while..=)

  7. Posted February 4, 2007 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    wow this sounds like a bookworms version of heaven. I really must check this out thx

5 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] Free Digital Books from The World eBook Fair […]

  2. […] P.S. Lorelle should be thanked for this, I got to know of it from her page. Had forgotten about Project Gutenberg all-together! […]

  3. […] I was reading Lorelle on WordPress when I learned that in honor of Project Gutenberg’s 35th anniversary, the 2006 World eBook Fair has made its online collections of ebooks available to the public for free from July 4th to August 4th, 2006. […]

  4. […] Free Digital Books From the World Ebook Fair […]

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