Is it possible to download books off the internet?

As in… illegally?

A friend of mine was telling me that much like you can download pirated songs off the net (mp3), you can do the same with books in Adobe Acrobat format.

Is this true?

Please note, I am not asking for links to illegal sites that offer such material… just asking if such sites exist.

Here’s a legal one:

It is Project Gutenberg, where you can download out-of-copyright books.

(I know that’s not what you’re looking for, but I thought others might be interested.)

Yes, such sites (and newsgroups and IRC channels) certainly do exist, offering up fiction, non-fiction, computer manuals, and pretty much everything else you can imagine.

But c’mon, most authors don’t get paid enough as it is. Go buy the book.

I’ll keep that in mind the next time I read some Project Gutenberg etexts of Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce, etc. You are aware, perhaps, that some authors like Mark Sterling are giving away free etext versions of the same book now selling in bookstores?

I remember about 1 or 2 years ago Stephen King relesed a book specifically for the internet. There are actually several companies that specialize in making little eBook tablets (much like the wireless internet tablets for use aronud the house). These are portable devices that can hold 50 or so full-length books, which makes them ideal for travel and things like that. More info on that at,23008,2453384,00.html

O’Reilly released a lot of their computer books in electronic form on CDs. Since they weren’t copy protected in any way, these books moved fairly easily into the realm of illegal trading. At that point some people put them up on the web in sites in Russia and other countries that don’t care as much about copyrights. The result: a Google search for the right topics will often find the illegal books.

So it does happen.

There are some sites that do let you download free books from the Internet. has a bunch for Palm Pilots, for instance. Most appear to be legal.

You should be able to find free copies of any book copyrighted before 1924. Books under copyright are another matter. People have gotten into a lot of trouble sharing them (for good reason).

I second Neutron Star. Authors work hard (if you think it’s easy, try doing it yourself), and all too often for a pittance. Why begrudge them the few bucks they get from each copy?

They might look like illegal books but Adobe Acrobat format has a way of preventing one from printing the book. You can read them, that’s legal.

Everything illegal on the planet can be found in the newsgroups, which is as far as I can say here. You won’t find much illegal stuff on web sites as the FBI shuts them down.

The hot new trend in libraries last year was “borrowing/lending e-books.” Libraries would sign up for a deal with the e-book publisher. Anyone with borrowing privileges at a library could then log on to the library’s web site and “check out” an e-book for a specified time (usually a few hours or a day or so). The deal limited the number of people that could “check out” a book at a time – to duplicate in cyberspace the limitation on borrowing a print book?

I never quite got what was the point of that.

One note about Project Gutenberg (why do I always think “Police Academy” when I hear that name? :wink: )

You can rest assured that anything you download from them is 150% legal to do so. They are the most incredibly anal about researching and obeying copyright I have ever seen. So download and copy and read with gusto!

Una, who downloaded Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall”, then found that reading novels on a laptop is too irritating…

That I find hard to believe.
It’s like saying I can listen to an mp3 of a copyrighted song I don’t own, so long as I don’t burn it onto a CD.

Besides the fact that the Adobe Acrobat “black out text” and “disallow print” are ridiculously easy to get around.

Many books are also legally available at - enjoy.

How do I search a newsgroup?

There are also book pirates who actually take paper books and scan them page by page, then feed the results into an OCR program, and read through the whole book to find any errors made by the OCR software. From what I’ve heard, the entire process takes about 40 hours for an average book.

Seems like a helluva lot of work to me.

“There are also book pirates who actually take paper books and scan them page by page, then
feed the results into an OCR program”

When the Harry Potter book thing started to get going, there were numerous requests for his books but no one wanted to spend the estimated 100 hours to scan it, so it never showed up.

Xerox has a newish machine, a DocuScan that can scan paper at an alarming rate, probably less than 1 sec per page. wish I had one of those, but I don’t read books, so I probably wouldn’t use it.

Adobe has a free ebook reader at their web site.

Is there some way to find out if a specific book is on the internet? Mostly when I search by author all I get is

I beg to differ. I haven’t downloaded them, but I know for certain that all the Harry Potter books are online in one place or another.

“but I know for certain that all the Harry Potter books are
online in one place or another.”

The old ones, yes, but at the time, not the latest one.

Doc, you need newsgroup software first, like free agent from (free) or gravity, or search for ‘newsgroup’ at for a newsreader. You also need a newsfeed & only your ISP knows that. There are about 40,000 newsgroups, & there is a ebook newsgroup or two.

I know of two sites, both offering ASCII texts of pulp magazine novels still under copyright. One offers about 200 e-texts of the Shadow novels and another offers about 25 e-texts of Doc Savage (another pulp hero) novels. Both of these series have been out of print for years, though, and the audience for this stuff is very small. It may be illegal, but nobody’s making any money on this.

But if there’s at least two, there’s probably more.