4.0017 Information about Project Gutenberg (90)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Wed, 9 May 90 17:24:43 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0017. Wednesday, 9 May 1990.

Date: Wed, 09 May 90 11:12:29 CDT
From: "Michael S. Hart" <HART@UIUCVMD>
Subject: Information About Project Gutenberg

The following is posted in response to the flood of inquiries we have had
recently from members of various listservers which directly or indirectly
carry messages concerning Project Gutenberg. My apologies to those whose
names appear on more than one of these lists as you receive two copies.


The purpose of Project Gutenberg is to encourage the creation and
distribution of English language electronic texts. We prefer the
texts to be made available in pure ASCII formats so they would be
most easily converted to use in various hardware and software. A
file of this nature will also be made available in various markup
formats as it is used in various environments. However we accept
files in ANY format, and will do our best to provide them in all.

We assist in the selection of hardware and software as well as in
their installation and use. We also assist in scanning, spelling
checkers, proofreading, etc. Our goal is to provide a collection
of 10,000 of the most used books by the year 2000, and to reduce,
and we do mean reduce, the effective costs to the user to a price
of approximately one cent per book, plus the cost of media and of
shipping and handling. Thus we hope the entire cost of libraries
of this nature will be about $100 plus the price of the disks and
CDROMS and mailing. Currently the price of making CDROMS is said
to be about $2,000 for mastering and then $5 per copy. I have it
on fairly good authority that these prices are negotiable, and as
actual cost, the price per CDROM is about $2.

To create such a library would take less than one out of ten of a
conservatively estimated 100,000 libraries in the U.S. alone: if
each created one full text. If all the libraries co-operated, it
would be less than 10% of a volume per library. If there were 10
members of each library creating electronic texts, then each only
has to do 1% of a single book to create a truly public library of
10,000 books which would each be usable on any of the 100 million
computers available today.

So far most electronic text work has been carried out by private,
semi-private or incorporated individuals, with several library or
college collections being created, but being made mostly from the
works entered by individuals on their own time and expense. This
labor has largely been either a labor of love, or a labor made by
those who see future libraries as computer searchable collections
which can be transmitted via disks, phone lines or other media at
a fraction of the cost in money, time and paper as in present day
paper media. These electronic books will not have to be rebound,
reprinted, reshelved, etc. They will not have to be reserved and
restricted to use by one patron at a time. All materials will be
available to all patrons from all locations at all times.

The use of this type of library will benefit even more greatly in
the presence of librarians, as the amount of information shall be
so much greater than that available in present day libraries that
the patron will benefit even more greatly than today from assists
in their pursuit of knowledge.

Therefore, we call on all interested parties to get involved with
the creation and distribution of electronic texts, whether it's a
commitment to typing, scanning, proofreading, collecting, or what
ever your pleasure might be.

Please do not hesitate to send any e-texts you might find to this
address. If you prefer sending disks, a mailing address follows.

We hope to be thanking you soon for your participation.

URBANA, IL 61801

Thank you for your interest,

Michael S. Hart, Director, Project Gutenberg
National Clearinghouse for Machine Readable Texts