Google Allows Downloads of out-of-copyright Books

Google is adding a feature to its Google Books service today to allow PDF downloads of out-of-copyright books. For example, to download a pdf version of Dante’s Inferno, see the right sidebar of this page.

Until now, Google only allowed people to read the out-of-copyright books online (and only snippets of copyrighted works). To search the database of available full titles, go to and click the “full view books” option when searching. This new move contradicts earlier statements by Google that scans of out-of-copyright books would not be made available for printing.

Many full view titles, such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, don’t have the PDF option yet.

Project Gutenberg is already offering downloads of thousands of out-of-copyright books, although the formating is inconsistent and the interface is less than user friendly.