Tech Tips: Cheap books? How about free?

With the ever-rising costs of textbooks, many students are looking for cheaper, or even free, alternatives to help alleviate the financial burden. Amazon and other used book sources can provide many of the required books at a much cheaper rate than the campus bookstore, but some web-savvy students have started scouring the web for free (and legal) versions of their required texts. Without a doubt, Project Gutenberg (PG) is the biggest and best online collection of free eBooks, containing material on thousands of topics.

What is it?
Project Gutenberg was founded in 1971 by Michael S. Hart, the inventor of the eBook. It gets its name from the famed Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press. Project Gutenberg is the oldest online library of eBooks, containing over 42,000 titles.

PG prides itself on having the best free versions of eBooks available. Project Gutenberg also offers a platform for authors to electronically publish their book.

How much does it cost?
Access to Project Gutenberg is free. However, you can donate money, volunteer to proofread their eBooks or host fundraisers.

How does it work?
Project Gutenberg collects texts with expired copyrights, and texts whose authors have allowed Project Gutenberg to distribute their work for free. These books have been published in print, then digitized and proofread to keep them as close to the original publication as possible.

Readers can search the book catalogs by name or category to find their desired title. EBooks are available in different formats including HTML, plain text, Plucker, EPUB and Kindle. Available eBooks range from the sciences to language and literature to children’s books.

In the case of those retrieving eBooks for a class, make sure your professor or teacher approves of the version since sometimes they prefer newer editions. Students should also be aware that Project Gutenberg closely monitors its internet traffic, and anyone suspected of using automated tools to mass-download material runs the risk of having their IP address banned permanently from the site.

VICTORIA TRANG can be reached at science@theaggie.org.

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