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Reading, downloading and converting ebooks

The ebooks on this site are in the public domain in Australia (not subject to copyright in Australia) and may be read and downloaded without charge. If you need help with some of the terms used here, go to the definitions section at the end of this page.

ebooks which are HELD ON THIS SITE are usually available as a Text (.txt) file and as a ZIPped text file (.zip). In most cases a HTML (.html) file is provided. [We also have epub files of many of our ebooks, made available by epub ebook editions and listed on a separate page.] Here is a typical listing of an available ebook which is provided in text, zip and html format:--

John BUCHAN (1875-1940)
The Blanket of the Dark (1931)--Text--ZIP--HTML

To read one of our ebooks online, simply click your mouse on the blue link for Text or HTML. If you are unsure which format you might prefer, try them both.

If you wish to transfer the file to your own computer (so that you can read it when not connected to the internet, using a word processor, a text editor, an ebook reader (e-reader) or an interent browser such as Internet Explorer) you need to click the RIGHT mouse button on the blue link for Text or HTML and save the file to the location of your choice. Once downloaded, it is best to view Text files using a non-proportional font, such as 'Courier New', so that any formatting within the text file is displayed correctly. Later in this article we discuss in greater detail, ways to read our ebooks.

If you LEFT click the mouse on "ZIP" you will be prompted to save the compressed text file to your own computer. The transfer time will be shorter than when transferring the Text file, since the ZIP file is compressed text. You will need to use a program to unzip the file(s) before you can read the ebook. If in doubt, simply save the TEXT file as outlined in the previous paragraph. However, it is preferable to save the ZIP file and unzip it, because the unzipped text file has some formatting details at the beginning of the file, to enable our logo to be displayed online, and this will show when you read the text file. The zip file does not have these formatting details. Refer to the definitions of 'zip, zipped' later in this page for details of where to get the relevant program to unzip a zipped file.

Some of the ebooks listed on this site are not actually held on this site. Instead a hyperlink is provided to transfer the user to the location of the actual book. Once transferred to the internet location of the actual ebook, the available formats of the ebook will be displayed. The instructions outlined in the above paragraphs will apply if you want to read and/or download the ebook.


Reading ebooks on your personal computer or laptop, e-reader, phone or tablet

e-readers and tablets

Once downloaded to your computer, ebooks can be transferred to an e-reader or tablet . For more information, see the article on ebook readers on our Home page. We are not able to provide advice about transferring files to e-readers or tablets as there are many different devices and many different formats are supported. You need to consult the user guide accompanying your e-reader or tablet. However, it is safe to say that ebooks for the Kindle are usually in MOBI or AZW format and that most other e-readers and tablets support the EPUB format.

Calibre is free software which will convert the TEXT and HTML files which we provide, into the relevant format for your e-reader. The software can be downloaded from the Calibre web site. If we provide a HTML file for the ebook you are interested in, it is best to convert that file, rahter than the TEXT file, to MOBI or EPUB format as required.

web browsers

A web browser, such as Microsoft Internet Explorer, Firefox or Chrome, is usually supplied with desktop computers, laptops, mobile phones and tablet computers. This browser will enable you to read both our TEXT and HTML ebooks although you will not be able to bookmark where you are up to in reading the ebook. In the next section we discuss another way of reading our files which is more like reading on an e-reader, but without the need to convert our files.

apps (applications) which "mimic" e-readers

Free, or low cost, apps (applications) are usually available from the "app store" associated with each particular phone or tablet computer, and from the internet for desktop and laptop computers, which will enable you to read our TEXT files and HTML files, while at the same time allowing you to bookmark pages, change the font size of the words and perform other functions to enhance the reading experience. This same software will also read ebooks in the epub format, in which case you may wish to use Calibre, mentioned in the previous paragraph to convert the file which you have downloaded from Project Gutenberg Australia into EPUB format.

For desktop and laptop computers, phones and tablets running Microsoft Windows or the Linux or Android operating system, Cool Reader and FBReader are excellent apps to read ebooks in EPUB, HTML or TEXT format. Both are free of charge. Click on the links in this paragraph to get more information. FBReader also supports files created in  mobi format, the format used for Kindle ebooks.

Tomes is available for Apple's ipad, ipod and iphone and, at around $A5, won't break your bank. It seems that it is possible to transfer files to Tomes wirelessly, however, not being an iThing expert, the writer of this help file connects his iThing to his PC and uses iTunes to transfer files from PC to iThing. The procedure is outlined at The Mac Observer. If that page is unavailable, here is the procedure:

More questions?

If you have other questions they may be answered at Project Gutenberg's Frequently asked questions page--almost everything you ever wanted to know about Project Gutenberg and ebooks.


web page

A document displayed on the world wide web (www) or internet. The document you are now viewing is a web page.

web site

A collection of web pages belonging to one internet location. The web site which you are currently visiting is

text file

A document held on a computer which contains only alphabetic letters and numbers. It is not possible to provide special effects such as italicised letters. No images can be displayed. In some text files accented characters (e.g. ) are included. Project Gutenberg ebooks contain a break at the end of each line so that the file can be read without the words going off the edge of the page.

html file

A document held on a computer which is commonly displayed in a web browser and which can contain alphabetic letters and numbers, images, coloured text and background and hyperlinks.

file format or file type

ebooks are produced in differnt formats, or file types. Common formats are epub, mobi, azw, pdf, html and text. The Kindle e-reader uses mobi or azw files whilst most other e-readers use epub files. Some e-readers also support pdf, html and text files.


A word, or series of words, usually in blue underlined text, which when clicked with the mouse takes the user to another web page or to a different location in the current page. Images can also be used as hyperlinks. The mouse pointer changes from an arrow to a hand when the mouse pointer is pointed at a hyperlink. This hyperlink will take you to the top of this page.

ebook or etext

A document held on a computer (an "electronic" file) which may or may not have been been created from a conventional book.

zip, zipped

Files held on computers may be compressed to reduce the size of the file for storage or transfer between computers via the internet or via email. Winzip is a popular computer program for compressing files, so that compressed files are commonly said to be zipped. Where required, a number of files may be compressed at the same time resulting in a single zip file containing several files. One use for zipping multiple files is to store a html file and its associated images in one zip file. Zipped files compressed with winzip require the same program to unzip them. An evaluation copy of Winzip may be downloaded from the Winzip site. A freeware program, for private users, which will zip and unzip files, is available from Ultimate zip.

e-reader or ebook reader

A device for reading ebooks. E-readers usually support ebooks created in different formats. The documentation accompanying the e-reader should be consulted to determine whether a particular e-reader can read ebooks produced by Project Gutenberg Australia i.e. HTML and/or Text. Refer also to the information about e-readers on our home page.

ebook software (for personal computers — desktops and laptops)

A computer program developed to allow ebooks to be read on a computer screen, and which provides features such as bookmarking, changing the font size, etc. There are a number of free e-reader programs on the internet including Toms eTextReader and Spacejock eBook Reader and Text-to-Speech software. (Refer also to the information about ebook readers on our home page)

text to speech software

A computer program which can process an ebook and read it back to the user using simulated speech. The speakers which are attached to most computers must be turned on. See previous paragraph for free software.


A computer operating system designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers. Devices using the android operating system are often in competition with devices developed by Apple, such as the iPhone, iPod and iPad.



Updated 17 Dec 2017