70,000 Free Ebooks, 1.8 Million Served

70,681 and 1,853,832 as of November 1, 2019, but who’s counting?

It’s been a while since we’ve reported on our progress building the free ebook catalog of all free ebook catalogs, but yes, we’ve been busy. Since people ask, here are some statistics.

The two biggest components of the catalog are Project Gutenberg (56,986 works) via GITenberg and Directory of Open Access Books (9,747 works). That leaves 3,949 books that we’ve gathered from all over, and those are some of the most interesting one. Free Ebook aficionados may wonder about the ~3400 Gutenberg titles and ~12,000 DOAB titles we’re missing. In the case of Gutenberg we’re omitting a bunch of entries that aren’t books (yes, Gutenberg includes a million digits of pi). DOAB also has a lot of items that aren’t books or aren’t open-access enough for our purposes (we need to be able to serve them from Unglue.it).

Almost all of our catalog is available in PDF (70,507 titles), but EPUB version are available for 60,282 titles. 59,364 titles are available for Kindle. Half of our downloads are PDF, a third are EPUB and a sixth are for Kindle.

The licensing for our books is also interesting. Except for Project Gutenberg books which are 99.9% public domain (and thus no license applies.)


Ebook publishers really like the NC licenses, although CC BY is gaining popularity. I think the NC licenses are used so the publisher can make money on selling print copies.

Over three quarters of the books in our catalog are in English. German, French, Finnish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch and Spanish combine to make a fifth of the catalog,  80 languages are represented in all. These proportions definitely reflect the collection bias, not the prevalence of free ebooks in one language or another.


A catalog with 100,000 really-free ebooks seems attainable within one or two years. Our focus should be those books not covered by the huge scanned-book archives like Hathitrust and Internet Archive, the born digital, mission-oriented books. We’ve been working with Internet Archive and Internet-in-a-Box to make the catalog available in more ways, but there’s so much work to be done.

Time to do some fundraising, maybe.

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