Yesterday we received an email from the University of Chicago Press alerting us that their free e-book of the month was a replica of the first edition of the Chicago Manual of Style from 1906. TeleRead reported the news.
Of course, as with all University of Chicago Press free e-books, this book comes wrapped in Adobe Digital Editions DRM—even though, since it was originally published in 1906, this book is well within the public domain by now. (Oddly, I can’t seem to find any public domain version of it on-line, at least not in Project Gutenberg, Feedbooks, or Manybooks.
You can obtain access to the free e-book and download the required software from Adobe by sending an email address to the U. of Chicago Press via this web page.
From the Web Page:
The Chicago Manual of Style began life modestly as a single page of typographic fundamentals drawn up by a University of Chicago Press proofreader in the 1890s. The guidelines grew in length and popularity and were first published in book form in 1906. Revised fifteen times since, The Chicago Manual of Style has evolved to become the definitive reference work for writers, editors, proofreaders, indexers, copywriters, designers, and publishers.
Totally interesting not only to reference geeks (like us) but to others (historians, writers, educators, etc.) as well.
However, for whatever reason (you don't want to share an email address?) or you read this after the free trial is over, another way to access the first edition and other editions is available.
Only a few hours after we received the email from U. of Chicago Press, an RSS update from the The Online Books Page “New Listings” feed/web page appeared. As we’ve said hundreds of times this feed/page is a great resource as is the The Online Books Page itself.
What we learned is that several editions of the Chicago Manual of Style (including the 1st ed.) had been digitized by the Internet Archive and were available online for free. No software required, no DRM, and access after September, 2010 ends. You can access them using the links below OR searching the Open Library.
By the way, the actual title of the early editions was:
A manual of style; a compilation of typographical rules governing the publications of the University of Chicago, with specimens of types used at the University Press
Available (in Numerous Formats) from the Internet Archive:
+ 1st Ed., 1906
+ 2nd Ed., 1910
+ 3rd ed., 1911
+ 4th ed., 1914
+ 5th ed., 1917
+ 7th ed., 1920
Sources: U. of Chicago Press, Online Books Page, Internet Archive
See Also: The 16th ed. of The Chicago Manual of Style is Now Available in print or online. A small amount of content is available online for free. An example would be Chicago Style Q&A: New Questions and Answers.