Download Out of Copyright Books from Google Books


Google Books is now allowing users to download books that are out of copyright in PDF format. Here's an example page where you can download Dante's Inferno.

TechCrunch notes that "this new move contradicts earlier statements by Google that scans of out-of-copyright books would not be made available for printing."


PDF = cumbersome

PDF is a cumbersome format for reading novels. PDF is a memory hog and the text has to be reflowed to fit on things like a PDA or mobile screen. Better to use Project Gutenberg or rather than Google to find public domain books for pleasure reading.

Where Google's PDF scheme might be useful is for technical document, although few technical docs will probably be in the public domain, and for replicating facimilies of important historical documents.

I would like to say that Google's move might popularize ebooks - but I think a lot of people will just get frustrated with the file format. But printer toner and ink jet cartridge makes are probably partying right now. ;)

Is this a geo location thing?

Can't find any download link from here.

Not much choice of format

I'm actively involved ina similiar project and when it comes to volume there's not much choice other than PDF. OCR is a nice idea to put something up in html or text, but OCR fails across large volumes of books (tables, pictures, fonts, etc). The only solution that works right now is human editing of OCR or retyping; I think that's what Project Guentberg does. Google however is unlikely to do anything that doesn't involve automation.

Not Dante's Inferno

Thanks for the tip. For anyone who's actually interested in the literature, this seems to be only an introduction to the Inferno. The English translation of the prose poem is also available, but it's here (among other places):

(PDF link)


I can see a lot more college students cheating with this on a handheld in lit class.

Project Gutenberg

Quietly creating a downloadable collection of literature. No controversy, no news coverage, just a lot of people working hard to make literature a little more accessible. For me, Project Gutenberg is a perfect example of what is good about the web. How come I don't get that warm feeling about Google Books?

Size Limit?

I found I couldn't download titles larger than 32,768 kb (that number smacks of an integer limit!). I tried several titles from Shakespeare to Machiavelli using both Linux and Windows browsers. Anyone else see this? I guess I should report it....

It's a conspiracy

The PDF format sucks. Fourteen months ago the Univ. of Michigan sent me the 12-page contract with Google in a PDF image format. It took six hours to print out the file, feed it to an OCR scanner, proofread, and HTML-format the file by hand. Input was a one-meg PDF image file, output was a searchable HTML file at about 49 K.

Last week the Univ. of California sent me their contract with Google. This one was 13 pages, and the PDF image file came in at 4 megs (I'm not kidding!). The old Adobe 4.0 couldn't even render the images to the printer without introducing artifacts that made OCR impossible. I had to drag my printer over to another computer that ran Adobe 7.0 in order to get a decent printout.

Six hours of labor for the Univ. of Michigan, seven hours for the Univ. of California, just to get 12 pages and 13 pages into a useful format.

Both contracts are linked from the top of

Google's free books are too basic as is

We just took a close look at the kind of PDFs Google has chosen to offer for download. Generally they're way to basic to be really useful other than for printing out a low res copy of the book. For example, you can't search them or copy text from them. We've suggested a few ways Google could quickly make these books much more usable.

Downloading PDF files

Great article and spot-on in every point.

Allowing users to save directly to their computer
Clicking on a web link to a PDF file normally by default opens the document inside a Web browser --

This is indeed a big nuisance and quite prevalent.
However, instead of opening them by default, do it - in Firefox at least - with the "PDF Download" extension which offers you various options:

BTW: this Nitro PDF Pro thingy you mention there - is there a server (*nix) version for that available, too? Might do many of us a load of good SEO wise, too.

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