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Free public domain ebooks in PDf, ePub, mobi formats (globalgreyebooks.com)
337 points by notanexpert on Feb 15, 2022 | hide | past | favorite | 80 comments

I just wanted to say thank you for the love shown to the site in the past few hours. I've never had so many sales and donations in one day!

I was so scared to post a link here. Someone suggested I should a few weeks ago, but although I read this site quite a lot, I never thought to post my site. I am not really tech minded, and my site is quite simple.

But last night, I thought - ok, just do it. So I posted this, and went off to bed (in the UK). Woke up at 2.30am and saw many notifications for sales, and just ended up getting up.

So thank you. I love doing the site, and I hope you all find it useful :)

Thank you for running the site!

It really is a pleasure :)

I appreciate all that you’re doing, but you really should include a license in your books. Since they’re all public domain, something like the Creative Commons Public Domain Mark 1.0: https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/ would suit. That makes the licensing situation completely clear to anyone who comes across the books.

However, I also noticed a complication. In your FAQ, you state “However, I DO take issue with people just taking all my ebooks, and offering them on their own site, as is, and not taking out my logo and website name first. Please don't do this. If you take out my logo and website name - fair enough - but if you don't, please bear in mind this is then copyright infringement.” That should also be made clear in each book.

Further, I’m not sure if you can really say that your website name is copyrighted. You can trademark a website name, but I’m pretty sure you can’t say it is copyrighted. I could be wrong — IANAL — & will happily stand correction.

In the footer of Standard Ebooks, it says: “Content produced by or for Standard Ebooks L3C is dedicated to the public domain via the CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication. Content not produced by or for Standard Ebooks L3C but displayed on this website may be subject to copyright.” (https://standardebooks.org/) Perhaps that sort of contrast would be a guide (not necessarily about your website’s content, but as a guide to separating things out). While there, you might want to take a look at https://standardebooks.org/about/standard-ebooks-and-the-pub... as well.

Great project! I hope some of these points are helpful to you in your endeavors.

That part in my FAQ came out of frustration - I wrote it after a guy basically copied my entire site, including website name, domain, and logo - he did this three times (the last time he also served the downloads from my server). I honestly don't mind people sharing the books at all, but I'm not going to lie - that was annoying, especially when, at one point, his site was second in the results when you searched for mine.

With the copyright, I was more talking about the logo, but I can see why I didn't make that clear.

But in general, I absolutely do not care when people share the books.

So point taken - I'll rethink it and re-word it in the next couple of days. Thank you :)

This is fantastic. Projects like this lift me up:

a one-woman operation that has been running for over eight years. I format every single ebook myself, as well as maintaining the website. This is a passion project that was born from a love for reading and a commitment to make free ebooks that look good and feel enjoyable to read.

I use sources such as Project Gutenberg, Archive.org, and sometimes my own book collections. These texts serve as a foundation, and then public domain artwork is added to create a cover. Next comes editing and formatting for digital devices - either PDF, epub, or Kindle format. And voila, the process is complete.

They don't even have ads!

I'm glad you like the site!

I really do love doing it. Also, I just updated the about page and index page that had 8 years - it's actually been closer to 10 now :)


Another great source of well formatted, public domain books.

Still the supreme source of free public domain ebooks


The quality of transcription on Gutenberg is rough, especially for older transcriptions. Standard eBooks are much higher quality, but selection is limited because of the effort gap.

I processed two books from Gutenberg for SE (Devil's Dictionary and a smaller scifi novel) and both were quite a bit of work to bang the books into shape (half the work was metadata enhancement, half was proofreading and correcting)

EDIT: After comparing, it's definitely just the raw Gutenburg scan w/formatting. You can see a big batch of fixed typos that weren't applied here: https://github.com/standardebooks/ambrose-bierce_the-devils-...

Perhaps, but Gutenberg is adding a huge amount of good quality content as of late, thanks to their Distributed Proofreaders community. Older content will soon be a small fraction of the total, and much of it will be picked up and updated to current standards.

The DP stuff is better, for sure. The first book I did was DP and it was far less 'buggy' than the older one. The issues were mostly formatting.


A great source of free (public domain) audiobooks, mostly read very well.

I find the https://librivox.app/ interface to be much better (same content, afaik, just a different - better - frontend).

Listened to some of G.K. Chesterton's work through libravox, quality was great. I suggest that people check it out.

Well, it's definitely a great source of free audiobooks. (I kid.)

Wikisource provides ebooks too, though the formatting can be patchy for complex formatting like tables and parallel texts.


I'm doing a test of IPFS and just started uploading a library of public-domain books on a variety of topics that would be useful in a post-EMP or massive technical disruption scenario.

The books are mostly pre-electrical age - mid-1800s to early 1900s.

Check out the survivor-library here:


Wait.. how are you going to read those ebooks in a post-EMP scenario?

Using an old technology called paper to print the books before trouble hits.

You won't live long enough to read them. If a strong-enough EMP hits in orbit, it will immediately take out all vehicles and electricity. With that, refrigerated food expires and transport of new food ends as all vehicles and trains have computer chips and should you have a classic car with no chips, the fuel pumps need electricity to operate. Horses and gauge-compatible steam engines are scarce these days, so you'll be left with cans and dry goods like rice, all the while fighting everyone else for access to the diminishing stocks of their personal food supply. The stores will be looted/empty in short order. Basically, almost everyone in an urban population is going to die after cannibalization runs out. Only remote rural farmers might survive.

I'm a remote rural farmer.

Cool what do you grow?

Potato, carrot, turnip, beet, cabbage, broccoli.

Guess we all know where we’re heading post emp, thanks mate!

good luck getting here lol


Remote rural farmers with ammunition.

Lots of ammo around here. A significant portion of the population hunts our own moose, rabbits, partridge, etc. I live on an island that's 100,000 sq. km. with fewer than 500k people - half of those live 500km from me.

Nice sounds like a rugged and lovely area.

Cool idea. You should consider adding also some relevant patents. There's plenty of knowledge in there not captured by books.

This knowledge may be useful if we were to rebuild for example an airship (just naming one of your categories for example).

That's a great idea!

Hey, I've been tooling around with a similar project. Please drop me a line (my email is on my profile or just google me) if you don't mind.

I LOVE the business model (free to download individually, but download them all for a free not much greater than standard book prices in the US). And it's worth it just for the Charles Fort books, which would appeal to many HN readers. Think X-Files, but with a sublime sense of humor and all culled from newspapers and books of the time.

"Mr X" has added useful footnotes to Fort's books here: http://resologist.net/

Can you provide some pointers on the tech stack you use for producing these? Do you have something similar to https://github.com/standardebooks/tools ?

My process is very simple. They are way more technical than me. I start off by entering everything into Word and get the text nicely formatted, then I work from that to create the PDF, epub, and Kindle versions.

The ebooks I put out have definitely improved since I began the site though.

My abilities only run as far as HTML and CSS - although I did just start learning programming recently (so I have a fallback career in my fast approaching old age!)

Since you're getting more tech oriented, I'd like to propose that you consider rehosting this on a site like Netlify or Cloudflare. They host static sites for free. You could use something like algolia for search. Poof, hosting costs go away completely.

I've heard of Netlify and Cloudfare, but only vaguely know what they are. I think this is about the third time I've said this in these posts but - I will look into this too! Thank you for the suggestions :)

If you're looking to read a classic, and have tried a few and were put off by language or pace, I totally recommend Treasure Island. Written in 1881 for a children's magazine, it's more than accessible and still super enjoyable. It's like a fun parody of a pirate adventure, until you realize it's the OG of pirate adventures, and that somehow makes it better. Like seeing the Mona Lisa in person, just to see what the fuss is about.


Quite a bit of overlap with Standard EBooks, but it looks like Global Grey has some in categories that SE typically shies away from, so that's a plus.

I would add Ushers History of Mechanical Inventions https://archive.org/details/historyofmechani00ushe

And something I want to read but haven't found a copy: Secret Book of Secrets by Ibn Khalaf Al-Muradi

  When I looked at the science of engineering and saw that it had disappeared after it's ancient heritage, that it's masters had perished, and that their memories are now forgotten, I worked my wits and thoughts in secrecy about philosophical shapes and figures, which could move the mind, with effort, from nothingness to being and from idleness to motion. And I arranged these shapes one by one in drawings and explained them. ~AD 1000

One request/suggestion to the author: add wikidata links to the books that have wikidata entries, that way people can cross-reference public domain status for their area, look up the book in other places linked via that (be it wikipedia, gutenberg, etc). I think for people interested in learning more about the books it would be a great way to see more info about them. You could also pull that data into the site directly if you wanted to.

For example: https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Q768792

Wikidata modeling for books is quite non trivial, there is a distinction between the "underlying work" and its "editions and translations" that adds complexity for typical use, and isn't even totally clear at times (e.g. is X an "edition/translation" or a new creative work that's merely "based" on a previous one? It depends - different people can answer the question differently! Is manifestation A the "same edition" as manifestation B?). Even Wikisource.org, which is a Wiki project, hasn't managed a comprehensive integration with Wikidata as of yet!

Regardless, the OP is doing some great editorial and curation work, and this is something that many other ebook resources don't have. It's great stuff.

Agreed, it's incomplete and imperfect, but I still think that it would be a good addition. And I also definitely agree that the OP does great work, I bought the full collection just before writing my last comment.

I always search for books at https://ca1lib.org/. It has has almost 10 million books in a high quality, with no ads and easy downloads

Any good database for creative commons/free textbooks or technical books?

Maybe you'd be interested in a recent post: American Institute of Mathematics' Open Textbook Initiative: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=30270705 | https://aimath.org/textbooks/

I wonder what is the best calculus textbook that can be found in Project Gutemberg today. The essence of the subject surely didn't change much in the last 100 years, and publishers today care mostly about sabotaging second hand market by constantly changing exercises and order of subject from one edition to another. Why just not break the museum piece and learn from old books?

There's already open calculus textbooks (see link below for example) that can mention stuff like calculators and computers while also taking advantage of modern typesetting and modern writing styles. Notation has also changed over time, for example using a double struck Z to represent the set of integers only dates to the 1930s but is widely used and understood now.


> publishers today care mostly about sabotaging second hand market by constantly changing exercises and order of subject from one edition to another

Yeah I know what you mean! Eight edition is the same as seventh, but with random permutation of problem sets, just enough so you can't use for class assignment. I once had a teacher who would give us the inverse permutation to make it easy for students to use the older edition, but he was the exception...

Why do you want to learn calculus? If it's for review/fun, I'd like to recomment the MECH+CALC book that I wrote. It's not free, but very cheap. See preview here https://minireference.com/static/excerpts/noBSmathphys_v5_pr... Currently v5.4. I've been treating the problem sets as an append-only list so numbers are "backward compatible" with older versions.

This looks terrific, thank you! I just browsed the PDF, every single page that I looked at is useful content. Just for example, the page with the graphs of position, speed, and acceleration. I'll be honest with you, though. I understand the need to market and be edgy, but the profanity is completely out of place and is a factor in me not buying the book for my teenage daughters. I teach them to present themselves with dignity, and I would be undermining that education by introducing a profane book.

Without a doubt, Calculus Made Easy[0]. Though, I find the PG layout to be atrocious, thankfully, someone has put the material onto a much nicer website [1].

[0]: https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/33283 [1]: https://www.calculusmadeeasy.org/

To go from scratch to calculus, there is Mathematics for the Million by Lancelot Hogben. I did not see it on gutenberg. But it is on archive.org.


Maybe Calculus Made Easy by S. Thompson (more recently revised by Martin Gardner, but that new edition is under copyright). Maybe Hardy's Course of Pure Mathematics. However...

Modern books use, in some areas and cases, more modern notation and approaches. That's helpful because math is not just knowledge but a language for communicating that knowledge.

If money is an issue[1], either of those Gutenberg texts (re-done with LaTeX), or the OpenStax calculus book are perfectly adequate. There's also no reason you couldn't use an AP Calculus review guide, or Schaum's Outlines, which aren't free but are in the <$25 range. Combined with resources like Youtube math channels, Wikipedia, Mathworld, and Sage and Mathematica (version 12 is freely available for the Raspberry Pi, though it'll be limited by hardware performance), anyone could learn calculus from the most dull and stilted and antiquated-notation calculus books ever written.

Math presented in a slightly obtuse way that doesn't lend itself to instant understanding might actually be better, as it forces the reader to think about the concept more, increasing retention.

Nobody needs Spivak's Calculus. I think it's a bit like the subtle meaning of Frost's Road Less Traveled. Everyone self-rationalizes about how their favorite math book is obviously the best, but in reality most of them probably learned the core of that subject from a different, less elegant book. It's not that it doesn't matter at all; better presentations might avoid an occasional unnecessary struggle over a concept, or lead to faster intuition of a visualization here and there, but it ultimately doesn't matter very much.

However, if you can buy a book (or pirate it) and want a modern digital alternative less like OpenStax or Stewart's, and more like Spivak (which sadly is only available in scans), Velleman's Calculus isn't bad, and you can supplement that with a modern analysis book like Tao, Pugh, or Abbott.

[1] Unless you are flat broke—in which case there's no reason even the most IP-respecting person should feel guilty about raiding libgen for learning material—the cost of a textbook approaches irrelevance when you'll spend 50, 100, or even more hours working through it. The opportunity cost of that time at minimum wage is many times the price of the textbook. What are you trying to accomplish by finding something free? Nobody needs to buy expensive textbooks anymore, but if you're opposed to paying money for textbooks on principle, you might ask yourself why.

List of Free Learning Resources In Many Languages: https://github.com/EbookFoundation/free-programming-books

This is great! Thank you so much for putting in that work.

Suggestion: It would be really great to have PDFs formatted for smaller paper sizes. With these PDFs, the font is going to get really small when reading on a remarkable or similar tablets and ebook readers. (Though one can always download the EPUBs and format them into PDF with optimized screen sizes using Calibre).

I'm glad you like it!

Regarding the PDFs - I will look into that. I think I always assumed if someone was reading on a smaller screen, an epub would suffice, but I shall see what I can do with the PDFs.

> I think I always assumed if someone was reading on a smaller screen, an epub would suffice

If it helps to understand why someone would stick to PDFs: I want to both preserve my ebooks over the long term (decades) and annotate them - comments, highlighting, etc. ePub's format is less stable for the long term, but most of all it lacks standardized annotation (afaict, after some detailed research). Also, if I annotate a book on my computer, I want the same copy on my small screen.

I hope that's helpful!

It is - thank you for the explanation :)

I have the old remarkable and use it without its cloud features. Even though, according to its documentation, it's supposed to be able to handle EPUBs, I have, for some reason, never gotten them to work.

I have also kind of "standardized" on PDF for the way I manage my own collection, because you can always make EPUBs into PDFs, but not the other way around.

Another curated free library: https://www.mobileread.com/forums/ebooks.php

It's an open forum, there's a bunch of different contributors, with a lot of German contributions.

I've done some books myself. The proofreading of the OCR'd text takes a great deal of time.

https://archive.org/details/books?sort=titleSorter another great source, sadly not well formatted.

Openlibrary.org is a slightly better frontend to this collection, from the same organisation. It'll link to external sites when that's a better option, including libraries, but also offer links to these scans.


Love the way the books are available to be browsed.

Sorted by downloads, viewable as collections and by series. It's a great experience for someone new to the classics.

Nice work

The page said only 15 people donated, I think some people may have been put off by the requirement of providing an email. I nearly was.

on edit: 15 out of a larger amount downloading I mean

She wants the email address to send you a robo-Thank-You note. (so far....)

right, so I mean if she wants more people donating probably don't need the email. Should at least set up some rudimentary analytics to see if people nope out at the donation step when email is required. Since I downloaded a bunch of books I donated but it was sort of iffy when the email field turned red.

I didn't even know I could set up PayPal or Stripe to work without getting an email. I will look into this.

For what it's worth, the emails I send are never automated, and I literally send a thank you email, but no more (unless people reply back to me that is)

Free ebooks from eBooks.com:


And who can forget libgen as well?

Wonder if there is something similar in spanish


Perhaps the proprieter - who is doing all the work themself, for free, giving it all away - is trying to cover expenses?

All books on this site are free.

... a one-woman operation that has been running for over eight years. I format every single ebook myself, as well as maintaining the website. This is a passion project that was born from a love for reading and a commitment to make free ebooks that look good and feel enjoyable to read.

I literally just spent $25 on a bunch of bandcamp albums that are "pay what you want" (I could have put $0) just to support the artist. Sometimes supporting people is just a cool/good thing to do.

Your argument in a nutshell: "But I can steal it easily, why do I pay?"

I think that's one of the reasons I won't be writing a technical book.

I think all books should be free for everyone. You'd get less moron and criminals that way.

There are fewer morons and criminals on the free internet? Hmmm ...

This argument could be applied to the majority of media platforms and plenty of people pay a lot more than £40 once off for those.

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