Millions of Books Are Secretly in the Public Domain. You Can Download Them Free

I’m quite excited by this sort of thing.

I’d like to see the CCEL website revamped to be usable for reading in a web browser, and the insane copyright claims removed.

I’d also like to distribute a bunch of the Logos works for free in spite of their absurd copyright claims. Or maybe I want to see it just because they claim copyright.


Here’s a github project that’s supposed to let you build a list of the not-renewed books from 1923-1963. (Requires geeky use of git and python, engineer-heads only.)

What authors would people be interested in searching for in that date range if they had that list?


For this to be useful to the layman, it needs to be turned into a searchable database of titles, authors, subjects, etc… there are millions of records, so it might be quite a job.


In addition to the resources above, though not a secret, I’ve found Google Books to be an excellent resource on many topics, especially of the theological nature.

I was happy to find that some pastors and teachers in previous generations published little books, treating specific topics in a dozen pages or so. Though, there are plenty of multi-volume works available too.

Lots of good stuff from the past few hundred years that is perfectly readable even to laymen.

If you decide to try it, use a web browser and after your initial search click “Tools” at the top and the use the drop-down to select “Free Google Ebooks” for library scans and other public domain books.

A lot of them are coming from the collections of those great old universities before they went completely pagan.

If there was a heresy being promoted, then there was a defense of orthodoxy published as well. Pamphlets were flying off the presses!


You can also find a lot through Amazon Kindle. Search for your favorite old author + “kindle free” and see what you can get!

Definitely going to check out the article. Thanks for sharing, @jtbayly!

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Richard Halliburton, James Daugherty, Phyllis McGinley, Marguerite D’Angeli, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming, Twig by Elizabeth Orton Jones, The biggest bear on earth by Harold McCracken are all books I would personally be curious about.

I grabbed P.G. Wodehouse’s Something New off this. The typesetting and structure is much, much better than most free offerings. Highly recommended.

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I assume you’re talking about the one off of the Standard Ebooks site??

They do seem to have well done ebooks, but there aren’t all that many yet.

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I did some searching on the Hathi Trust site which was linked in the article, and found these authors of interest: