When Michael Hart endeavored to create Project Gutenberg 40 years ago, he probably did not envision the No. 1 downloaded title being the Kama Sutra, but a surprising search revealed just that.

Project Gutenberg is an expansive set of free eBooks, digitized and assembled by Hart (who, incidentally, is the inventor of the eBook) when he was a college student in Illinois.  Since that time, his team has digitized more than 30,000 titles that are available in the public domain, allowing free download access to anyone in the United States with an eReader.  Many of OverDrive’s partner library sites contain a link to the Gutenberg titles currently being offered, and from this we are able to track what titles are most popular among the Gutenberg digital library.  The list varies from the historically popular Bible to the controversially informative satire A Modest Proposal.  There are timeless love stories, silly comedies and dark chronicles of folklore.

Most titles in the Gutenberg collection are free of copyrights in the United States, meaning they can not only be downloaded for reading, they can also be used for distribution, recreation and adaptation.  Teachers can print and distribute excerpts for their classes; artists can perform the works in front of an audience; and titles can be transferred to audio or other formats.  Each title provides licensing information when it is downloaded, so be sure to check the rights prior to utilizing the books for commercial benefit.

It is important to take advantage of this program as an OverDrive partner, because the titles are always available for immediate download and are compatible with any EPUB software.  Also, while these titles will not count against a specific patron’s checkout limit, they will count toward your library’s circulation!  There are always titles available on the Gutenberg list and the benefits are vast for both patrons and libraries!

To get started adding these titles to your digital collection, contact your OverDrive Account specialist today.

Now that you know a little about the program itself, allow me to provide you the 25 most downloaded titles.

  1. The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana by Vatsyayana (25732)
  2. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (18298)
  3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (15090)
  4. The Best American Humorous Short Stories (13854)
  5. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (12106)
  6. Ulysses by James Joyce (11361)
  7. How to Analyze People on Sight by Elsie Lincoln Benedict and Ralph Paine Benedict (11248)
  8. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (11063)
  9. The Art of War by Sunzi (10303)
  10. Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie (9228)
  11. War and Peace by graf Leo Tolstoy (8694)
  12. The Bible, Old and New Testaments, King James Version (8626)
  13. The Complete Works of William Shakespeare by William Shakespeare (8367)
  14. The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci — Complete by Leonardo da Vinci (8313)
  15. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (8249)
  16. The 2010 CIA World Factbook by United States. Central Intelligence Agency (8130)
  17. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (8105)
  18. Grimm’s Fairy Tales by Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm (7717)
  19. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (7681)
  20. The Time Machine by H. G. Wells (7330)
  21. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (7087)
  22. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman (7055)
  23. The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (6982)
  24. Dracula by Bram Stoker (6927)
  25. A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs (6859)

Jason Sockel is a Content Sales Associate at OverDrive.

4 Responses to “Top 25 Project Gutenberg eBook Titles (US Edition)”

  1. Cory

    I really hope Overdrive has made a significant contribution/donation to support Project Gutenberg. Countless hours of volunteer time has gone into making these materials available and I would really hate to see Overdrive taking advantage of all this effort without giving something back.

  2. paul

    Is there a list of all of the titles in the Overdrive Gutenberg Collection?

    And if such a list exists will it be kept up to date?