twelve years a slaveIt pays to keep an eye on the new releases RSS feed sometimes! In the latest round of new releases from Project Gutenberg, I spotted an ebook release of Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup, the book which was the inspiration for the recent award-winning movie.

I had seen ebook versions for sale at the Kindle and Kobo stores, but the book is public domain, so I balked a little at paying for it. It’s nice to see a freely available version of this one. I think Project Gutenberg doesn’t get enough credit sometimes from eBook fans. Many of their newer releases veer toward the obscure preservationist rather than the popular. This book might have been that kind too, if it weren’t for the movie. There are some gems in the PG collection, but they get lost amidst the vintage nature books and issues of Punch Magazine


  1. Another discovery mechanism that is finding its way into more and more eReaders is the Open Publication Distribution System (OPDS). It’s also used in standalone eBook discovery apps such as eBook Search for iOS. With a built-in or stand alone OPDS client, one can search or browse for eBooks that are not DRM’d. Gutenberg, The Internet Archive, Baen Books and Feedbooks are among the major eBook sources have their collections in an OPDS catalog.
    If I discover an eBook on iOS using the eBook Search app, I can download an eBook from Gutenberg and hand it off to the iBooks app thus circumventing the iBookstore completely. Using Safari on iOS to download an unencumbered ePub or *.ibooks file provides the same hand-off option.
    The Calibre server has an OPDS option as well as web and mobile. This makes it possible to offer a curated selection of eBooks to a specific group, students in a specific course for example.

  2. Wow, what a relief. Another academic consortium has scanned and published the same novel on, and it is basically unreadable (with the usual scanning errors).

    We kind of take PG for granted and assume that they have scanned and edited the good stuff already, but I would estimate that 75% of the time when I am looking for pre-1923 stuff, I don’t see it in PG.

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