User:Vtaylor/CIS2/Spring 2009/Project Gutenberg

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CIS 2 :: FALL 2008


What is Project Gutenberg?

"The mission of Project Gutenberg is simple: To encourage all those who are interested in making eBooks and helping to give them away." This is the first few lines of Project Gutenberg's mission statement. Project Gutenberg is not only the first but it is the single largest library of free online ebooks on the web. Project Gutenberg was founded by Michael Hart in 1971. He is also the person who invented eBooks altogether. Project Gutenberg is a never ending project that works to put paper books and novels online for free to the public. It is non-profit project and was run completely by volunteers who are very dedicated to the cause. Project Gutenberg prides themselves on not being run by political or financial powers. They are always welcoming any and all volunteers to help out. Not only are they always looking for volunteers but they are constantly asking people to continue to submit eBooks to them even if they are already on the internet. Project Gutenberg is helping people to continue reading but still stay with the "Cyber-age" that we have gotten into. The project has thousands of volunteers of all ranks who help you through the entire way. One nice thing about volunteering is that there is no pressure at all. Every page you edit will be looked over by several higher up volunteers who will help fix things you may have missed. The volunteers are very kind and polite as well when they are giving you advice and tips which makes editing very relaxing and non stressful. When I was volunteering I received an email from a higher up editor about three hours later who was very kind and helpful. I didn't even have to ask for feedback or help but I still got it. Overall, Project Gutenberg's goal is to help make books available to everyone for free in an easy, free, and fun way.[1][1]


Volunteering for this project is a fun and free way of exercizing community service. There are many different types of positions that a person can volunteer for in this project, being a proofreader, submitting e-books found in other areas, or even manually scanning the books to turn into e-books.

Distributed Proofreaders

Distributed Proofreaders is the section of volunteer work that requires the most attenion in Project Gutenberg. Most people who are actively participating in this event are in this section. Being a proofreader is an essential part of the completion of e-books because in scanning the ebooks to a computer format, there are sometimes glitches. The most commonly seen glitch is that the OCR(Optical Character Recognition) software doesnt recognize the word(This happens roughly 1% of the time). This is where the Distributed Proofreaders have to do the most work. They must read over the content and look for spelling errors, and/or other problems in the text. Beginning proofreaders should NOT EVER try and change the content of the work, even if the proofreader thinks that there are grammatical errors. There are different levels of proofreading too, when a proofreaders starts to volunteer they will be assigned to choose from a variety of works, but they will all say BEGINNERS ONLY. After doing the corrections on these, then people with more experience in the field will send you an email telling you how you did and where you should try improve on. As time goes on people climb ranks and then teach the newer volunteers, this system allows project gutenberg to be a self-maintaining system that can keep expanding.

DVD Project

Starting August 2003, the first e-book CD/DVD was distributed. In this CD there were over 600 e-books. The amount of books that are being burned onto CDs has only been growing exponentially in the past years and will continue to grow in years to come. The books available on DVD are all accessible via the web, but Project Gutenburg has limited resources and would be very grateful if people could help burn the documents into a DVD/CD and send via snail mail to subscribers and libraries.

Volunteer's Voices

Couple of volunteers gave their personal account of what its like to volunteer for Project Gutenberg. The volunteers scan the text and type the text as well. They spend countless hours typing or scanning and then proofreading afterwards. It gives them a good feeling, knowing that they are making a difference. One of the volunteers, Amy Zelmer, lives in a small town in Australia. Her desire for books led her to Project Gutenberg. She types up the books in Microsoft Word. She says it helps her type accurately and increases her typing speed. The most frustrating part for the majority of the volunteers is to proof read. [2][2]

Gutenberg: Wanted Books

Project Gutenberg is on the lookout for certain books because the copies that they have is missing some pages. Sometimes some paperback versions have certain pages missing in contrast to hardcover books. Here’s are some of the wanted books at PG:

  • A Bible atlas; A Manual of Biblical Geography and History
  • A Tatter of Scarlet
  • Bailey's English Dictionary
  • Dardistan in 1866, 1886, and 1893
  • Harmsworth Magazine - No. 5: Remarkable Trick Cycling; Some Sensational Fires; The World Champion Whistler; etc.
  • Harper's 1850.08

How to Donate

Donations can be made in a variety of ways. They can be made through credit card, wire transfer, using an online payment system: Paypal, Donate Now Network For Good, a personal check, or money order made out to Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation. The donations are tax deductible. Project Gutenberg will send a “thank you” letter to those who make a donation over $100.[4] [4]


There have been many positive and negative criticisms made toward Project Gutenberg. This section will be focused on mentioning a few of the noteworthy criticisms.

One of the criticisms have been toward the types of books that have been converted into e-books so far. It seems Project Gutenberg is converting more e-books from famous and heavily known authors versus some of the lesser known authors. This has raised some controversy as the audience is looking to get a taste of all classical authors that are available and not just the famous authors.

Another criticism has been towards the inadequate detailing of editions and omissions of prefaces from originial published books in the e-books that have been converted so far. Project Gutenberg has taken this criticism into account and as a result in recent years, the e-books created have been updated to include such information. [5][5]

Grammatical errors found in original publications are also of concern as the way books were written centuries ago could very well have been correct grammar, but comparing it to today's grammar could be viewed as a grammatical error. There is no way for proofreaders to acknowledge whether the written format is accurate, as a result everything will be converted to today's spelling and grammar which may in some cases lose its original meaning. Also linguistic conversion is of concern for books that were written centuries ago and look to be converted to other languages.

In 2004 Michael Hart (Founder of Project Gutenberg) and John S. Guagliardo created a new initiative called "Project Gutenberg 2". The goal of the Project Gutenberg 2 was to "provide the online community with free or inexpensive access to intellectual property from around the world". This commercial venture created a great deal of criticism amongst the Project Gutenberg world and its volunteers. As they viewed "Project Gutenberg 2" as simply a second version of the Project Gutenberg (or successor), which really was a separate entity. This is simply one of the most controversial and critized aspects of Project Gutenberg which still exists today. "Project Gutenberg 2" is still a work in progress and no final decisions have yet been made. [6][6]

Quality of Work

Project Gutenberg has added multiple checks and balances to ensure the quality of the books that have been converted into e-books. As soon as a book has been identified and scanned to be converted into an e-book, the scanned pages are sent over to the Distributed Proofreaders to be proofread. The scanned pages go through a multi-level process before the e-book is labeled as complete. The first step is called "P1" usually for beginners to proofread and "to match letter for letter, punctuation mark for punctuation mark, the original text as if the original text had no italics, font changes, etc." The second step is called "P2", it consists of "close reading of pages already read in P1 for any small errors that might have been missed in the P1 round. Otherwise, the responsibilities for this round are similar to the P1 round. P2 proofreaders are required to run WordCheck on their pages. The third step is called "P3", it consists of a "close examination of pages already read in P1 and P2 for any remaining difficult-to-find errors which may have been missed in the previous proofreading round(s). Otherwise, the responsibilities for this round are identical to the earlier proofreading rounds. P3 proofreaders are also required to run WordCheck on their pages. The fifth and sixth steps focus on formatting the e-book. The last two steps are called "F1 and F2". The formatting steps are "to insert all markup and formatting: for example, footnotes and sidenotes markup, text style markup (italics, small caps, etc.), blank lines before and after chapter headings, and so on." As proofreaders read pages from a scanned book at each step of the process, they are constantly given feedback by mentors and project managers about how to avoid making mistakes in future pages that are proofread. As a result of these steps, there is a very systematic approach to ensuring the books are converted to e-books with quality.[7][7]


The Distributed Proofreaders website is very efficient on how it manages the pages that are being proofread. There are very little overlaps between the pages that are proofread at any given time. The database keeps track of the pages that are proofread, as a result you may jump from page 1 to page 3 as the second page could have already been proofread by another person. This tracking mechanism takes place at each stage of the proofreading process. Also, the databases that are used are always backed up in several locations to ensure that none of the pages are lost in case something happens to one or more of the databases.[8][8]

Copyright issues

One major challenge with e-books is how to enforce copyright protection. Once a book is in electronic format one person can distribute it to thousands and millions of other people. Because of copyright issues book publishers have always refrained from publishing e-books. But e-books has become more and more popular in the past few years that publishers now want to take advantage of it. Now they allow e-books that can be read on single computers or devices such as Amazon Kindle. Book publishers has implemented very tough copyrights enforcement on e-book distributors such as Google books. Google Books provides limited view for copyrighted material. You can see only a part of the book, certain pages are not visible to the users.

Project Gutenberg is careful to verify the status of its e-books according to U.S. copyright law. Material is added to the Project Gutenberg archive only if they are public domain books or after it has received a copyright clearance, and records of these clearances are saved for future reference. Project Gutenberg does not claim new copyright on titles it publishes. It encourages their free distribution. There are also a few copyrighted texts that Project Gutenberg distributes with permission. These are subject to further restrictions as specified by the copyright holder. [9] [9]

Future of E-books and Project Gutenberg

In the future I believe that Project Gutenberg will expand even further. Now that many people are taking online classes and don't have a lot of extra money to buy books I think that many people will find it very handy to read online. Project Gutenberg will also have many more books out for people to read. Some other things for the future that have been discussed is one computer in at least one school in some underdeveloped countries. They feel that it will bring a lot of services for free and it can also act as a "village library". Another idea was that it can help people learn how to read because Project Gutenberg provides audio ebooks. I think that Project Gutenberg will bring together many people with all of the materials that it can give to people. Google Books I think has a very big effect on Project Gutenberg. Google is such a big website that people go to, so that if they type a name of a book it will show that the book can be read on the Project Gutenberg website. Google Books have been very honest and shown that they are helping Project Gutenberg with many of their book selections for people to read. Some challenges that Project Gutenberg will have to go through is just getting as many books out there as they can. I know that there are so many books out there and yet so little people who want to help.[10][10] [11][11] [12][12]


  • Project Manager - Andre
  • Team Coordinator - Hatice
  • Recorder - Alyssa
  • Writer – All Members of the Group
  • Content Manager - Dustin
  • Style Coordinator - Omema
  • Tech Wiz - Hatice
  • Reviewer - All Members of the Group
  • Editor - David

Time Line

  1. November 20: Roles and responsibilities should be finalized
  2. November 22: The project manager should send out a recommended outline
  3. November 24: All team members should respond with their recommendations about the content
  4. November 25: Content should be finalized and sent out to the tech wiz to post on the page
  5. November 26: Content and page design should be finalized.
  6. December 1: All the research should be finalized and members should post their research for review
  7. December 2: Editors should complete the review and make the changes accordingly. Page is ready for final review by all members
  8. December 3: Project is Complete


  1. Unknown. (2008) Gutenberg:About , retrieved December 1, 2008, from Project Gutenberg Web Site:
  2. Unknown. (2006) Gutenberg:Volunteers' Voices , retrieved December 2, 2008, from Project Gutenberg Web Site:
  3. Unknown. (2006) Gutenberg:Wanted Books , retrieved December 2, 2008, from Project Gutenberg Web Site:
  4. Unknown. (2007) Gutenberg:Project Gutenberg Needs Your Donation , retrieved December 2, 2008, from Project Gutenberg Web Site:
  5. Unknown. (2008) Project Gutenberg , retrieved December 2, 2008, from The Citizens' Compendium Web Site:
  6. Hane, P. (2004) Project Gutenberg Progresses , retrieved December 2, 2008, from The Information Today, Inc. Web Site:
  7. Unknown. (2008) Welcome Back to Distributed Proofreaders, Alumni , retrieved December 2, 2008, from Distributed Proofreaders Web Site:
  8. Bonham, T. (2004) Beginning Proofreaders' Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) , retrieved December 2, 2008, from Distributed Proofreaders Web Site:
  9. Thomas, J. (2007) Project Gutenberg Digital Library Seeks To Spur Literacy , retrieved November 27, 2008, from U.S. Department of State Web Site:
  10. Kandaswamy, D. (2007) Printing Press to Project Gutenberg , retrieved December 1, 2008, from Islam Online Web Site:
  11. Sean. (2008) Printing Are Italian publishers still diffident when it comes to Internet Book Search? , retrieved December 1, 2008, from Antezeta Web Marketing Web Site:
  12. Noring, J. (2007) Printing ‘Digital Text Masters’ (Digitizing the classic public domain books) , retrieved December 1, 2008, from Project Gutenberg News Web Site: