Standard eBooks Is a Gutenberg Project You’ll Actually Use

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Image credit: Giorgio Minguzzi/Flickr

I’m always trying to save a few bucks when stocking up on books for my beat-up Kindle or my iPad. I’m not a big ebook reader, but I do use it to crank through classic books I should have already read—books too unwieldy to carry during my morning and evening commute. Luckily for me, there are thousands of free books available from places like Project Gutenberg. Just one problem: a lot of them look terrible.

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You, like me, probably want properly formatted ebooks for your devices, or books with covers that aren’t white text on a blue background. So Standard Ebooks, a volunteer-driven project, is republishing public domain ebooks to comply with today’s ebook readers and standards. Each book’s page has its word count, reading score, and a synopsis of the title, along with a changelog for the book itself.

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Standard Ebooks takes ebooks from sources like Project Gutenberg, formats and typesets them using a carefully designed and professional-grade style guide, lightly modernizes them, fully proofreads and corrects them, and then builds them to take advantage of state-of-the-art e-reader and browser technology.

The differences between your average book from Project Gutenberg and Standard Ebooks are pretty substantial. First off, all Standard Ebooks books are presented with aesthetically pleasing front covers rather than sparse text covers.

Typographical quirks like curly quotes and em dashes are addressed, so ebooks look like books and not text documents. Hyphenation, footnotes, and properly formatted chapter markers are also present, all helping to make public domain books more accessible by bringing them into the modern age.

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It’s easy to download them to your mobile device, too. Each book has an epub, Kindle, Kobo, and new “epub3″ format for download. On my iPad, opening an epub file in Chrome forced me to download the file before opening it, while Safari gave me the option to read it in iBooks straightaway.


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