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Public Domain - Amazon or Gutenberg pros & cons

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Initial post: May 10, 2012 6:19:55 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 10, 2012 6:25:47 PM PDT
Zanzibar says:
I'm setting up a kindle for a relative and she's interested in a lot of classic public domain books to start. Would I be better with loading the Amazon versions or directly from Project Gutenberg?

I know the Amazon ones would be handy on her account that I'm managing, but does anyone know if the Amazon versions get updated for errors often?

I looked at one ebook from Project Gutenberg and the last 5% of it was a bunch of legalese saying you can do pretty much what you want with the book. It went on for pages. Not a major issue, but extra junk isn't really needed.

In reply to an earlier post on May 10, 2012 6:26:39 PM PDT
Most of them are exactly the same. It is easier to download them from Amazon if they are going on a Kindle.

In reply to an earlier post on May 10, 2012 6:34:22 PM PDT
Zanzibar says:
Thanks. After downloading about 10 ebooks, I thought it might just be easier to get from Amazon and only get Gutenberg ebooks that I can't find on Amazon. That's also what made me wonder if the Amazon ones got updated when I couldn't find a Jane Austen ebook on Amazon that was free - Sense and Sensibility. I wondered what the Amazon process was to put corrections or PD ebooks on the site.

I'm guessing the convenience of downloading from Amazon would outweigh any possible error filled ebooks.

Posted on May 10, 2012 6:34:44 PM PDT
AFAIK, the Project Gutenberg books can be uploaded to Amazon by anyone and aren't curated by Amazon or Project Gutenberg. Some folks even upload the books and sell them. My understanding is that they can do so as long as they add something like comments or an analysis of the book.

In reply to an earlier post on May 10, 2012 6:37:32 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 10, 2012 6:38:54 PM PDT
Not available to US customers? How very odd. I have downloaded the free copy from Amazon.

Sense and Sensibility

In reply to an earlier post on May 10, 2012 6:38:16 PM PDT
Zanzibar says:
So the Amazon versions could be an early PD version that may be missing some corrections? Or the ones on Amazon could have something changed by whoever offered it to Amazon?

In reply to an earlier post on May 10, 2012 6:39:02 PM PDT
Zanzibar says:
That link says it's not available to customers in the United States.

Posted on May 10, 2012 6:39:45 PM PDT
The Complete Project Gutenberg Works of Jane Austen A Linked Index of all PG Editions of Jane Austen

In reply to an earlier post on May 10, 2012 6:41:41 PM PDT
Zanzibar says:
The reviews state that the one you linked is really badly formated for kindle. Plus my elderly relative would be better off with individual titles. Thanks anyway.

Posted on May 10, 2012 7:01:49 PM PDT
A. Dietz says:
If you download from, the book will be stored in your Amazon archives and will sync across devices. If you download it from Project Gutenberg, and for some reason need to reset or replace your Kindle, it won't be in your Amazon archive and you'll have to get it again. It also won't sync across devices.

In reply to an earlier post on May 10, 2012 7:06:29 PM PDT
Zanzibar says:
Thanks - Sync across devices won't be an issue. It seems like a choice between convience and possible bad formatting or errors.

Posted on May 10, 2012 7:13:30 PM PDT
I've gone with trial and error on this. I begin with the Amazon version (the free one if there are many). Check the reviews for comments on the formatting/typos/etc. If that still seems ok, then I download it. If, on reading, it's got more typos than I can bear, I delete it and try the Gutenberg one and also add a review to the Amazon page.

In reply to an earlier post on May 10, 2012 7:21:36 PM PDT
Zanzibar says:
Thanks - I'll probably go with a mixture and see how it works. I most likely won't be reading some of the ones my relative is interested in, so I'll just have to let her know to tell me if there are major problems with a book and I'll get a different version for her.

In reply to an earlier post on May 10, 2012 7:38:29 PM PDT
I hope you are not under the impression that the Project Gutenberg books are error free, because many of them are full of errors. I read them on my laptop previous to getting my first e-reader, and you never know until you download them.

In reply to an earlier post on May 10, 2012 7:41:37 PM PDT
Zanzibar says:
I figured that there would probably be errors on the Project Gutenberg books too, but I didn't think I'd find better ones on Amazon. I would think they'd be pretty much the same, but Amazon's might be updated less often for errors than Gutenberg if Amazon doesn't change the ebook unless whoever submitted it, fixes it?

In reply to an earlier post on May 10, 2012 8:01:39 PM PDT
Most of the Amazon classics are straight from Gutenberg unless otherwise noted.

In reply to an earlier post on May 10, 2012 8:04:58 PM PDT
Zanzibar says:
So if I get the Amazon one, then it will be downloading the latest Gutenberg ebook and not an earlier version?

Posted on May 10, 2012 8:51:17 PM PDT
No, you won't get the 'latest', since they aren't linked. People can mostly do whatever they want with public domain books (copying, changing, etc.)

If you're using one of the e-ink Kindles, you might want to try this for getting Project Gutenberg books->

Download the MOBI version, put it in the Kindle's documents folder, and it will show like a book on the HOME screen. Open the book, do a search on any words in the title or the author, and you will get a results list of books. Go to the one you want and click on it and the book will download from Project Gutenberg to the Kindle. And the books will show with their correct title on the HOME page instead of something like 'pg83'.

In reply to an earlier post on May 10, 2012 8:54:02 PM PDT
Zanzibar says:
Thanks - sounds interesting. I'll take a look.

Posted on May 10, 2012 8:56:40 PM PDT
I find that often, the version available at is better, in terms of typos corrected, illustrations added, etc.

Posted on May 10, 2012 9:50:36 PM PDT
I've had PD books from Amazon that had more errors than the ones I've downloaded from Gutenberg, and I can't think of an instance where I have found the opposite to be true. (Not that Gutenberg editions might not also have errors, but nor more than or fewer than the ones I've gotten from Amazon.) One that was particularly bad, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, was actually taken down by Amazon, and I don't know whether it's back up in corrected version or not -- all of the non-alphabetic characters (such as the pound sterling symbol) and all of the accented characters were displayed as gibberish, which really disrupted the flow of reading! However, it's not typical for them to be as bad as that on either site.

I like the handiness of getting them from Amazon since they're then in the library, but as the library gets bigger, I'm thinking of removing them since some people have said that when the library gets beyond a certain number of books (over 3K, I believe), it can cause problems with syncing with the device.

One thing that I definitely prefer in the PG books is the lack of DRM. I couldn't believe it the first time I tried to open a PD book on a different device (I'd just moved it from one to another) and discovered that Amazon even puts DRM on the free public domain books (I'm not speaking of ones that have value-added material that is copyrightable beyond the PD content).

It really depends on whether you prefer to have everything available in the Amazon library and whether you might prefer the PD books to be DRM-free.

Posted on May 10, 2012 9:52:44 PM PDT
Meant to mention that if you want to download directly to the Kindle from Project Gutenberg via the Kindle's experimental browser (assuming it's an eInk browser), you can do that from . This might also be a good page to search and download from even if you're using a Fire.

Posted on May 10, 2012 10:55:52 PM PDT
You could download the non-DRMed books from Project Gutenberg and then email them to your Kindle. They will then also be stored at Amazon and will be available from your MYK page.

In reply to an earlier post on May 11, 2012 12:22:43 PM PDT
Zanzibar says:
Thanks for the info. The DRM issue is something to consider. I didn't want to load up my library with PD books since I can get them any time I want. My relative is a different matter since she had no idea how to use a computer. If I get the books from Gutenberg, I can just manage one file on my PC and load to either device. The ebooks I downloaded already from Gutenberg, I changed the file name to the book title with PG at the start so I can easily tell them on my kindle's folder.

@ppcsue - I haven't tried sending a book as a document. That would be a plus for my MIL's kindle so I could send an ebook to her kindle in between visits. We live across the state from her.

Posted on May 11, 2012 12:45:33 PM PDT
I've never heard of a PD book from Amazon with DRM on it. They've all been DRM-free that I've seen.
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Discussion in:  Kindle forum
Participants:  15
Total posts:  33
Initial post:  May 10, 2012
Latest post:  Jun 25, 2012

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