Anyone thatâ€™s knows me, knows I love to read. I never travel anywhere without some reading matter. In fact, I canâ€™t remember a time in my life when there hasnâ€™t been a book of some kind on the go.
The problem is that I also like to travel light. I hate carrying any kind of bag if I can get away without it. On a three week trip to Australia a couple of years ago I almost got away with hand luggage. Books rather than clothes were a reason my rucksack had to be checked in.
OK, so, you get the picture. So by that rational you might infer that Iâ€™m a great fan of eBooks. Well, yes, I am a fan, but I have some rules.
I am definitely not a fan of DRM. I donâ€™t want to buy a copy of a book that is tied to a device. I donâ€™t want to have to buy a separate electronic copy of a paper book I am reading. Because of that my eBooks tend to be of the out of print variety, and I almost always get them from Project Gutenberg.
Iâ€™ve been interested in Project Gutenberg for a very long time and admire its simplicity as well as breadth â€“ with 17,000 titles. Itâ€™s clear that lots of other people also think highly of Project Gutenberg â€“ every month two million eBooks are downloaded from it. The day before I wrote this editorial the top ten downloads included Jane Austenâ€™s Pride and Prejudice, H G Wellsâ€™ The Time Machine, and the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle.
These are not exactly the very latest titles, and thatâ€™s because Project Gutenberg is all about out of copyright works. This means they can be distributed freely, and thereâ€™s no DRM to worry about. Moreover, downloads are available in a range of widely used formats including plain text, PDFs and, increasingly MP3s. If you fancy the MP3 format â€“ and I highly recommend it â€“ give the computer generated voices a wide berth as they can grate a bit, but explore the books read by people, some of which are simply superb. There is even a small but growing selection of sheet music.
The use of widely accessible data formats means Project Gutenberg eBooks are readable across a huge range of mobile devices as well as desktop computers. And the absence of DRM means you can install them on as many devices as you like. So I tend to download a book and put it on my laptop and whatever handhelds and smartphones I am currently using. Whenever I go anywhere, the eBook I am reading is with me.