Free Readers - Classic Public Domain Books for Parents and Children

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What does the PD Archive Search Engine do?
    The Search Engine uses Google's database to search only non-commerical, public archive sites. It provides more accurate and useful results than using Google or other search engines directly. The search engine will find all manner of free to download media including photographs, sheet music, old films and music files such as mp3 or midi.
  • How do I get the best out of the PD Archive Search Engine?
    There are many ways to improve search accuracy, one very useful approach is to use quotes to group words, if you don't do this the keywords will searched for separately, although pages with both keywords close together will usually appear earlier in the results. You can also prefix important keywords with a + or - to require or exclude results which contain them. Eg:
    To find MP3 audio books by Edward Lear other than Nonsense Songs, you could type "Edward Lear" +mp3 -"Nonsense Songs" see the results of this search.
  • Is this site finished - what's the 'beta test' stamp about?
    The content management system is complete and we hope free of bugs, but we are still adding and preparing many more books. We are not actively promoting the site as this time, but aim to do so once our library exceeds 100 good quality online books. In the meantime the site is fully functional and we welcome visitors and appreciate feedback.
  • Some of these books are so difficult, are they really children's books?
    These books date from a time without TV or radio and were as often written to be read to children as they were to be read by them.
  • Are these downloads legal, can I use them in my teaching at school?
    All the books and other works provided here are within the public domain inside US jurisdiction. Here the law is quite simple in that copyright works published prior to 1923 were automatically entered into the public domain. In other countries rules can be more complicated and may depend on the date an author died or other factors. Wikipedia on Public Domain and Wikipedia on the Berne Convention are good starting points in researching this if you are accessing this site from outside of the US.
  • Why are some books not available to read online?
    Longer books which are mostly text are provided as PDF downloads only. The online reader is really intended for shorter texts or books with large numbers of illustrations.
  • Are the PDFs accessible?
    Not fully, all the PDFs have been run through OCR and have hidden text mapped to the pages, but errors are common. If a book is available in text or html at Project Gutenberg or Internet Archive we will link to it. Such texts are almost always faithful copies which have been proof read by several people and corrected against the original works..
  • What is the status of Free Readers?
    Free Readers is a non-commercial site maintained by a couple of teachers in their spare time. There are no plans to expand this site for commerical purposes and it will always remain free to use.
  • Do you have a privacy policy?
    Free Readers does not collect or pass on email addresses nor does it monitor traffic in a way which identifies individuals. The site makes use of Google Analytics to track site usage and carries Google Ads in an effort to cover server costs. Google's privacy policy can be found here.
  • Do you accept donations?
    Not at this time. Free Readers would not be possible without the work of Project Gutenberg, see Project Gutenberg's Donation Page to support them.