‘Papa, what are public domain ebooks?’ asked 15-year-old Jibran. He was following his father in the market carrying a big bag of vegetables. He liked reading comics. His teacher had told him that there were a number of websites on the Internet where public domain ebooks were available. He wondered if there were any comics also there. He hadn’t searched online for them yet.
‘First of all you have to understand what is meant by public domain,’ said Jibran’s papa. ‘When any creative work (text, photo, audio, video) comes in the public domain, it means that work is not protected by copyright or Intellectual Property Laws (copyright, trademark or patent laws) and can be freely used by everyone. In other words, you don’t have to take permission from anyone, to share, modify, distribute and even sell that creative work.’
‘This includes ebooks?’ asked Jibran.
‘Yes, even ebooks. In fact, there are many websites on the Internet, where you can read and download free ebooks and public domain ebooks,’ said Jibran’s papa.
‘Is there any difference between free ebooks and public domain ebooks papa?’
‘Of course, son. There are many free ebooks (fiction and non-fiction) available on the Net, but the copyright of authors stands on those ebooks. The writer/author has not released the copyright of the ebook. So, you can’t share, modify or distribute the ebook as you please or even take content/text/pics from them for your use, without the author’s permission. You can just read those ebooks for free. As for public domain ebooks, now you know why they are different.’
‘You mean I can also get free comics on the Net and I might get public domain free comics too, isn’t it papa?’ said Jibran excitedly, as he hurried to keep pace with his father.
‘I am sure son. But you’ll have to search on the Internet. I can suggest some search terms that’ll help you in coming across websites that have good collection of public domain ebooks and even free ebooks.’
‘Yes papa. Please tell me those search terms. And papa, could you hold this vegetable bag for some time, it’s getting heavy for me. My arms feel tired,’ said Jibran.
‘Ha, ha, ha. Tired already? Here, give it to me.’ Jibran gives the bag full of vegetables to his papa with a smile of relief.
‘So, as I was saying, your search terms using double quote for public domain ebooks and free ebooks can be:
“public domain ebooks”
“this document is in the public domain”
“this text is in the public domain”
“this information is in the public domain”
“this page is in the public domain”
“this is a free ebook”
“this ebook is free”
“download free ebooks”
‘Right papa, I think I understand. It means that there are a number of free ebooks available in the public domain, as well as ebooks that are free to read only.’
‘Yes, Jibran. You also have to understand that public domain titles are classified as anything published before January 1st, 1923, and works published without a copyright notice from 1923-1977.’
‘Papa, this means that before thinking of buying any books that are classics and even taught in our schools and colleges, we can check if they are available free as ebooks online, isn’t it? Then we don’t have to buy them to read.’
‘Yes, you can do that. You’ll save money,’ said Jibran’s papa with a smile. ‘Do you know that there is also a Public Domain Day?’
‘Public Domain Day? Like we have our Independence Day and Republic day papa?’
‘Yes, something like that. Public Domain Day is a day that is observed when copyrights expire and works enter into the public domain. This legal transition of copyright works into the public domain usually happens every year on 1 January based on the individual copyright laws of each country.’
‘Oh wow. On New Year every year, we get so many more books that are free to share and read? That’s cool’.
‘You know Jibran, I know a few people who have downloaded a number of Public Domain free ebooks (Classics) like: Oliver Twist, Pride and Prejudice, Les Miserables, Dracula, The Scarlet Letter, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, A Christmas Carol, A Tale of Two Cities, Works of Shakespeare, The Adventures of Hucklebberry Finn, Moby Dick, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Gulliver’s Travels, Great Expectations, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Little Women.
Plus they have also downloaded Public Domain free ebooks for children (Classics) like: Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Black Beauty, The Railway Children, Jack and Jill, A Little Princess, The Jungle Book, White Fang, The Adventures of Buster Bear, The Adventures of Chatterer the Red Squirrel, Five Children and It.’
‘That’s very nice papa. I’ll also start downloading and reading a few of these ebooks that I find interesting. I’ll find comics too.’
‘Yes do that. You can even sample some websites for public domain and free ebooks like gutenberg.org, feedbooks.com, manybooks.net, bibliomania.com. For free and paid ebooks (current/contemporary), you can check out amazon.com and flipkart.com
‘Papa, my teacher told us a bit about ebooks. I know that amazon.com has a great collection of ebooks – their kindle books. The latest news is that Flipkart.com, which is one of the biggest online shopping/e-commerce companies in India, has recently added the section of ‘ebooks’ in their Books division.
Ebooks are available in categories like:
Literature & Fiction
Academic and Professional
Biographies & Autobiographies
Religion & Spirituality
Business, Investing and Management
History and Politics
Science & Technology
Families and Relationships
Health and Fitness
Arts, Photography and Design
Sports and Games
Computers & Internet
Cooking, Food & Wine
Music, Films and Entertainment
Outdoors & Nature
Crafts & Hobbies
Home & Garden
Entrance Exams Preparation
Comics & Graphic Novels
‘Well done Jibran. So you are already aware about ebooks. Nice to know that. I thought your interests were just watching movie trailers online, chatting with friends and playing games on the Internet.’
‘No papa. I do value time, like you always keep saying and read books too,’ said Jibran.
‘Ok. Good. I hope we have got everything from the market. Check the grocery list that your mother gave you,’ said Jibran’s papa getting ready to start the motorcyle.
‘Yes papa. I am checking the list…Oh, I think we forgot to buy one thing and mummy really wanted it.’
‘What did we forget? I thought we had everything.’
‘Did we buy onions?’
How was this write-up on public domain ebooks? Which ebooks would you like to download and read? Share in the comments below