I am old enough to remember when the popular Internet was new, and one of the most amazing things about it was the sense that it would bring information and education to the masses almost instantaneously. The hype was real.
Of course, the Internet has lived up to that hype in some ways and failed to do so in other ways. Reality has a way of making everything we dream about a bit less Technicolor. We couldn’t foresee the rise of deepfakes or fake news, not to mention the digital divide. But every once in a while I come across something that reminds of the early promise of the Internet, and I would like to share it in the interests of sharing simple pleasures.
Standard Ebooks was created with the goal of providing high-quality ebooks from public domain sources. Imagine Project Gutenberg, but with the polish and careful craftsmanship usually associated with purchased products. And almost everything about Standard Ebooks is fully open and available. They dedicate all their materials–including their cover art–to the public domain.
Again, I am reminded that this sort of open accessibility is both rare and precious. The web itself has become so complex that “view source,” which was one of the key drivers of the early Internet (and also its hype), has been under attack for years. One might say the same thing about the notion of a public domain for previously copyrighted materials too.
But for now, Standard Ebooks is chugging along, doing great things. Search for your favorite author, and see what’s there. They have Austen, Dickens, Wells, Twain, Doyle, and more. Take a look at their catalog, and find that classic you keep meaning to read.