Public domain EPUB downloads on Google Books

I was very excited about Google's decison to put books online some years ago. It looked like another major step forward for the open access movement - which I support whole-heartedly, as most of you will know by now :-).

Then the process stopped - three years ago, the Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers and a handful of authors and publishers filed a class action lawsuit against Google Books.

Google settled this lawsuit in October last year. It will still take some time for this to come into effect (maybe another couple of years) but I'm sure Google already has stuff lined up to come available immediately the court agrees.
In the meantime, Google Books are making "public domain" material available in a variety of forms:

Try doing a search for [Hamlet] on Google Books. The first few results you'll get are "Full View" books — which means you can read the full text. And, because the book is in the public domain, you can also download a copy of Hamlet in PDF form.

You'll be able to download these and over one million public domain books from Google Books in an additional format - EPUB - a free and open industry standard for electronic books. It's supported by a wide variety of applications, so once you download a book, you'll be able to read it on any device or through any reading application that supports the format. That means that people will be able to access public domain works that Google digitized from libraries around the world in more ways, including some that haven't even been built or imagined yet.

They founded Google Books on the premise that anyone, anywhere, anytime should have the tools to explore the great works of history and culture. Google began digitizing these books because they thought it was important for people to be able to find and read them, and they want them to be able to do so anywhere — not just when they happen to be at a computer. This feature takes Google one step closer towards realizing that goal by helping support open standards that enable people to access these books in more places, on more devices and through more applications.

To find out more, check out the post on the Google Books blog.

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