Last Sunday, I shared my thoughts on lending books, ebooks, and so on. That reminded me of the Gutenberg Project. Named for printer Johannes Gutenberg, who was the first European to use moveable type. He didn’t invent it, but he invented enough added details to deserve being a historical person of note.

The Gutenberg Project is an all-volunteer effort to put every surviving printed work into a computer and make it available, as meets with copyright laws, to anyone with computer access. The founder and dreamer, Michael Hart, passed away a couple years ago, but the project is so well organized and has such forward momentum that it’s still running strong.

The official name is the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation. I can’t imagine a more noble and wonderful way to spend available volunteer hours. It’s like the burning of the library in Alexandria in reverse. Here’s how to contact them:

Another wonderful project comes to mind, speaking of burning libraries. Burning Man. Once a year, a city springs up in the Black Rock dessert in Nevada, not far from Reno. It’s a massive week-long event of “radical self-expression and radical self-reliance.” I am not much tempted to participate, it’s much more of an event for younger, tougher folks, and those whose art is a bit more visual than writing.

The connection for me with Burning Man and Project Gutenberg comes from the book Homeland by Cory Doctorow, where the main characters attend a Burning Man and visit a library that is intended to be burned by the desert community at Black Rock City. The library is set up and staffed by Project Gutenberg volunteers.

I searched the Burning Man files to see if the library is a real thing, but can neither confirm or deny its existence. There is a Burning Man Book Mobile where you can take any book, for as long as you like, you can keep it, or can return it some day. The Burning Man community idea is to create continuity not boundries and rules.

So Cory Doctorow is the perfect person to be writing about this. He’s a major cheerleader for removing DRM (Digital Rights Management) from ebooks, because frankly, even if someone pirates a copy of your book to read, they are still readers! They might be fans soon, and might buy a copy just to have to read or pass on to another fan. You can’t stop the signal! (I heard that somewhere once.)

At Mr. Doctorow’s blog, Craphound, you can find the cities he is visiting in his current tour, and ads for t-shirts which have the entire text of some of his novels on them. Yes, you read that right. A shirt with the entire text of Little Brother or Homeland on it. I have enough trouble with people reading some of my t-shirts, I don’t have time to stand still while strangers read the novel. Then again, it would be a great way to pass the time in line at Comic Con. Too bad I couldn’t put my “friend’s” short erotica on a shirt. I am sure I would make lots of new friends, and possibly new readers, that way.

I’ll be back on Thursday.