Project Gutenberg Review – Is It Safe?

If you’re someone who loves to read, you’ve probably figured out by now that collecting books can be an expensive hobby.

Luckily, many platforms provide access to lots of books that you can conveniently read or download on your computer or mobile phone.

Project Gutenberg is one of such sites. It boasts a huge collection of electronic books on different subjects from literature to history.

However, as with many online platforms purporting to offer value for free, you may be skeptical about using Project Gutenberg and wondering what the catch is.

Is it safe to use or just the latest trick unscrupulous entities are using to steal users’ data and confidential information? Are the books on the site really free or you’ll be covertly breaking the law every time you access the website?

In this post, we’ll be taking a critical look at Project Gutenberg to determine whether it’s a trusted platform that’s worth using or something you should stay away from.

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Our Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Project Gutenberg is completely legit and safe to use for finding free books for non-commercial and commercial purposes.


  • The project has been in existence for over five decades.
  • Online reviews for the site are mostly positive.
  • It has a valid SSL certificate for secure connections.
  • Domain has been registered for more than one year in advance.
  • The site is visited and widely used by millions of people across the globe.
  • Lets you download eBooks in different formats.


  • You won’t be able to find eBooks for the latest bestsellers or most current and modern works that are protected by copyright.

What is Project Gutenberg?

Project Gutenberg is a digital library with thousands of eBooks that you can read for free. The non-profit platform focuses on digitizing and archiving literary works of cultural impact so they can be easily accessed and distributed.

Most of the books on Project Gutenberg are public domain works that are no longer protected by copyright in the United States by virtue of their age or because they’re no longer in print.

Project Gutenberg is home to many classic works of literature from renowned authors. So you get to check out many astounding works of literature, read them, and even print them out.

So you won’t have to spend huge bucks hunting down and buying existing editions of the books you want or love.

Although Project Gutenberg attained official non-profit status in 2000, its history goes back to 1971, when its founder, Micheal Hart, was given access to his school’s computer system while studying at the University of Illinois.

Wanting to put the privilege to good use, Michael began typing in the United States Declaration of Independence into the computer.

He anticipated that computers would become more common, and he wanted anyone with access to be able to find the document online.

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Micheal named his budding online library, Project Gutenberg, after Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the movable-type printing press, which democratized the availability of books and the spread of information via text.

This digital copy of the Declaration of Independence became the first eBook in existence. Through the 70s, Michael typed in more classic American texts, then began working on digitizing the Bible and the works of William Shakespeare in the 80s.

Project Gutenberg has come a long way over the years thanks to the creation of the internet, optical character recognition, and image scanning technologies.

More books were added to the project at a rapid pace with the help of these inventions and volunteers from across the world.

Today, Project Gutenberg hosts over 70,000 eBooks for your enjoyment. You don’t have to set up an account or pay a dime to browse the platform’s impressive catalog. Just visit the website and start searching for the books you want.

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Is Project Gutenberg Safe? Risks of Free Ebook Sites

Project Gutenberg is the first eBook project and one of the oldest digital content creators and distributors in the world still in operation today. It has been around since the 70s, in the days of ARPANET, which would later become the internet.

The website’s longevity is no accident and serves as a testament to how valuable and reliable it is.

Project Gutenberg is run by the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, with hundreds of volunteers working diligently behind the scenes to produce, submit, proofread, and format ebooks for archiving.

So if you’re wondering if Project Gutenberg is safe to use, the simple answer is yes. The website is managed and maintained just like any other decent site.

The fact that Project Gutenberg is a legally incorporated organization with board members and executives who are known to the public is further proof that the website is legitimate.

Project Gutenberg is a recognized legal entity with rights and obligations under U.S. law. So. if it were to be found engaging in notorious and illegal activity, it can be sued and punished accordingly.

However, unlike many other free eBook sites, the risk of inadvertently downloading a file that’s been infected with ransomware and other malicious elements that could compromise your device is practically zero.

This is because Project Gutenberg doesn’t source for the texts it publishes from every corner of the internet. The books on the website are scanned, proofread, compiled, and screened by different volunteers before they make their way to the site.

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Each volunteer gets to choose what book they want to produce for digital distribution.

Usually, the books that are published are simply not available in digital text format. So, they’re being converted into ebooks from scratch by people who share the project’s commitment to breaking the shackles of illiteracy and ignorance.

No one is trying to eke out a profit one way or another from Project Gutenberg because it’s not designed to be a revenue-generating business.

Donations are what keep the website going. It’d be counterproductive for it to risk its reputation by engaging in unscrupulous activities that other free book sites may dabble in.

Project Gutenberg doesn’t collect any personally identifiable information about you when you use the website except for your device’s IP address. It automatically deletes this data from its servers after 60 days.

It takes adequate measures to keep its connections secure and ensure any data related to user activity is protected.

If you detect any errors or issues with a text while reading or after downloading it, you can always leave a message. The platform will address and resolve it accordingly, rather than sweep it under the carpet.

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An analysis of Gutenberg by various independent review platforms and web analytic tools has turned up a clean bill of health. SiteJabber gives the website a 4.43-star rating indicating that the user reviews for Project Gutenberg are overwhelmingly positive.

Reviews on MyWot also suggest that most users are satisfied with their experience of Project Gutenberg, which is why it has a 4.7-star rating on the platform.

This generous rating combined with the findings of MyWot’s technology led to the platform scoring Project Gutenberg 89% on its trust and security scale.

Scamadviser’s evaluation of the website also turned up nothing negative or incriminating. It found that the eBook distribution platform had all the markings of a safe and legitimate website including a longstanding domain, SSL certificate, and high Tranco rankings.

This is why Project Gutenberg secured a 100/100 trust score, meaning that the scam detection tool considers it to be as safe as it gets.

Where Does Project Gutenberg Get Its Books From?

Most of the books published by Gutenberg are derived from existing printed works that have entered into the public domain. This means that the works are not protected by copyright in the United States anymore.

As you can expect, this typically applies to books and stories that were published a long time ago. This is why most of the works are classic literature and other written materials.

These works are transformed for digital consumption by scanning them, formatting footnotes, removing page headers and footers, adding internal links to the table of contents, and other tweaks.

However, Project Gutenberg does not control what books get produced or archived. It has eligibility criteria that all ebooks have to meet to be accepted and published on the site.

The platform leaves it up to individual volunteers to decide which printed works with a copyright clearance they want to digitize.

Additionally, Project Gutenberg offers some contemporary titles and works that are not yet in the public domain, but for which it has received permission by the copyright owners to distribute electronically for non-commercial purposes.

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Should You Download From Project Gutenberg?

Yes, you absolutely should.

Nothing is standing in the way of you reading or downloading books on Project Gutenberg. It gives you access to free books without having to deal with copyright and piracy issues or risk harming your devices with malicious files.

All you have to do is visit the site and start browsing through available collections and categories. Alternatively, you can enter the title or related term for the book into the search box to see the results.

Bear in mind that copyright laws vary from country to country. Project Gutenberg only certifies that the eBooks it produces do not have copyright protection in the U.S. and can be freely used by U.S. residents.

However, it may still be copyrighted in other countries even though it’s free of copyright in the United States. If you live elsewhere, it’s up to you to consult the copyright laws and records in your country as they relate to the titles you want to access.

Confirm that the book you want is free of copyright in the country you reside in before accessing, downloading, or redistributing it via Project Gutenberg. This will help you avoid getting in trouble for infringing on the owner’s legal rights.

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Wrapping It Up: Is Project Gutenberg Safe?

Our investigation, as well as independent evaluations from relevant sources, show that Project Gutenberg is a reputable and trusted website that’s perfectly safe to use.

It’s a legitimate organization that’s been incorporated in the United States and its history predates the internet as we know it.

So if you’re looking for digital versions of a previously published book, especially from way back when, don’t hesitate to check Project Gutenberg’s archives.


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