Tablets, Phones and eReaders How-To

Project Gutenberg is not just for your desktop or notebook computer!

All modern tablets, smartphones, and eBook readers we know about can display Project Gutenberg eBooks (we are not going to try to list them all here, but every such device we are aware of has the ability to display one or more of Project Gutenberg’s typical file formats). Many MP3 players, gaming systems, and other devices can display eBooks, too. The Project Gutenberg site offers download formats suitable for eBook readers, mobile phones, and other devices.

There are several different ways of obtaining and viewing the titles, and most people will be able to choose whichever suits them best. Before getting started, check with your device’s documentation to determine which formats you can display. This page lists the formats that Project Gutenberg offers.

Here are some of the ways we know of to get Project Gutenberg eBooks to your eBook reader or mobile phone:

  1. Read the eBook online. All the devices we know about have the ability to display Web pages, and that is one of the formats available for nearly every Project Gutenberg eBook.
  2. Download eBooks directly to your device over the Internet. If your device is Internet-enabled, just visit the catalog landing page for a book, and download one of the formats your device can display. Here is a sample catalog landing page: Use the author/title search boxes on every page at to find eBooks you are interested in.
  3. Download to your computer, and transfer (i.e., “side load”) to your device. This might be done with a USB cable, Bluetooth, or another method.
  4. Use a third party site (including some for-fee sites), which facilitate getting files onto your device.
  5. Other methods, as supported by your device. For example, the Kindle supports an email method to transform and receive files.

Search For Guidance

Many articles have been written on different approaches to getting Project Gutenberg content onto different devices. Use your favorite search site to look for guidance. These include articles on specific devices, as well on how convert Gutenberg files to other formats.This article at describes conversion for Project Gutenberg content.

These Wikipedia links have information, listings, and comparisons that may be useful:

General Advice

There are a few different challenges that many people face. Here are some of the ones we hear about most often. Keep in mind that there are many different types of computers, and they can be set up differently and have different software. So, your specific experience might be a little different than someone else’s. This also means that step-by-step instructions might need some variation for your own situation.

  1. How to save an eBook’s file to transfer to your device. If you are using your computer to look at an eBook, you can save the eBook’s file(s) to your computer so that you can copy it to your device. Try the “save as…” … “HTML Complete” option in your Web browser to save the file(s) to a folder you choose, so that you can later transfer the files to your device. If you want to get a particular file format (such as the EPUB or MOBI format), from the Project Gutenberg download page you can right-click to get a pop-up menu, then “save as…” (or a similar option). If you don’t have a right mouse button (on some Macs), use control-click to get the pop-up menu.

For HTML, make sure you save the complete page. Some Web browsers just download the HTML (the text), and link back to the images at the site. This won’t work, since viewing the book will require you to be online, and link “inline” to those images. Project Gutenberg wants you to have the WHOLE eBook - download the complete HTML with images. All Web browsers offer this as a menu option, but it might not be the default choice.

  1. Where is the file? If you simply click a file to download, you might get a dialog box or something similar, asking whether you want to save the file. But where did it go? It seems there are many different places your computer or reader might save the file, and they can be hard to find later. Use the “save as…” method mentioned above to choose a specific location. Also, keep in mind that the Project Gutenberg files might have names that don’t related to the book’s title (we use a numeric file naming scheme based on the eBook number). You can rename the files to anything you’d like, but you will first need to know where they are saved.

On tablets and ereaders, you might not be prompted for where to save your file, and we have had reports of different locations being used from time to time, or by different software. You might need to look around in your downloaded files areas.

  1. How to get the file to my device? This varies quite a bit, but the first step is to find where you saved the file (sometimes you can save directly to your device, if it is connected). One common variation is to connect your device to your computer, often with a USB cable. This is called “tethering.” Then, just drag and drop (or use another method for copying files) to put the file on your device - this is often called “side loading.” Another common variation is to use a separate program that manages your device’s content, and to open the file and transfer it from within that program (iTunes is a common example of this that comes bundled with many Apple devices. Calibre is a good example of free software that works on many different devices).

  2. Hey, it doesn’t look right! Project Gutenberg relies on several automated steps to create EPUB, MOBI, and some other specialized eBook reader formats. For a variety of reasons, this automation sometimes yields files that don’t look right on every device, particularly those with small screens. One common problem is to have lots of white space at the top of an eBook, or very wide margins. Also, it might be that images (from the HTML version of the book) are not included in the automatically-generated version. If you got the right file, but it doesn’t look right, it’s probably not something you can fix. Try another file format, especially HTML or plain text. HTML and plain text can be viewed by many of the specialized eBook reader devices and mobile phones.

  3. I get an error that the file is protected by DRM (Digital Rights Management, which is a way that some publishers use to prevent you from doing what you want with files they produce). Nothing in Project Gutenberg has DRM. But we’ve found that if a file is corrupted or changed, some devices mistakenly think they are protected by DRM. Try downloading again, or try different reading software (if possible), or try another file format.


General Kindle Help

Visit the Amazon help pages for your specific Kindle model. The help pages for the devices we looked all have a page describing how to transfer files from your computer to your Kindle, which is sometimes called “sideloading.” Those are the types of instructions that should be helpful: save to your computer, and then copy to your device. Here is [Amazon’s device help page] (

Unfortunately there are too many different products, with sometimes differing software or features, for us to keep up. Your best solution will be to look for guidance for your specific situation.

Beware that Amazon sells for money many titles in print and digital format that you can get free from Project Gutenberg. In addition, we have found that Amazon outsources many of their own digital imprints, and sometimes their non-free titles violate the Project Gutenberg trademark. Project Gutenberg has never received any trademark royalty payments from Amazon or Amazon resellers or imprints. For older (pre-1926) content, there is a good chance that Project Gutenberg has it free of charge, but Amazon will charge money for it. Of course there might be advantages to the non-free version (such as better formatting). Be aware, and make an informed choice.

Blocked Users

Since 2014, Amazon Kindle users have reported being detected as “robots” by the software running On investigation, it was determined that Amazon has been using computer addresses within its cloud services to aggregate requests from Kindle users. The net result is that to there are very large numbers of requests from single network addresses. This causes to trigger a temporary ban of that address, since it seems to be an automated robot, rather than a human user.

The exact conditions under which this aggregation takes place are not clear. We do not have a workaround to disable this outcome. If your device is blocked, the block will expire automatically though it may appear again depending on Amazon’s routing of queries to A good workaround is to instead use your computer to access, and transfer items to your Kindle as described herein.

Alternate Apps and Formats

Many or all Kindles allow you to install alternate eBook reader software. Advice we have received (which might need adjustment for your specific device, or if some versions of software are updated from when these instructions were written): install a third party EPUB reader and start downloading the EPUB files instead of the Kindle files from this site. You may want to read up on installing third party apps on the Kindle Fire. Advantages of EPUB files over Kindle files include: that they are much smaller than Kindle files and that they work on the Apple iPad too.

Kindle 3

The Amazon “Kindle 3” device seem to work well with Project Gutenberg titles; the Kindle DX also. Amazon used to have instructions available for downloading Project Gutenberg titles, but they seem to be gone now. They do have some free content, and an app, in their Free Book Collections. For MS-Windows users, there is a video describing the process at Youtube, via a blog on the power of small instructional vidoes.

Amazon’s Newer File Format

In 2015, Amazon started using the “kfx” file format for new Kindle readers. Project Gutenberg provides the MOBI format, which our download page calls “kindle” format. There are no immediate plans for Project Gutenberg to offer kfx format, but this may change in the future. Meanwhile, it appears that newer Kindle models can still utilize the other formats (MOBI, HTML and even plain text). There are many articles about how to convert files to the kfx format. Here is one at The Digital


The Barnes & Noble “Nook” devices seem to work well with Project Gutenberg titles, including the different versions (Color etc.). Note that to connect for tethering and sideloading, your Nook needs to be awake (use the on-screen slider to do this, you’ll get a message that it is connected to your computer). Other points for the Nook:

Beware that there are many Barnes & Noble titles in print and eBooks that are not free from them, but are free from Project Gutenberg. B&N often adds a “Copyright” statement to such old books (for example, Pride and Prejudice, which actually was included with the Nook we tried), but only things like the cover and introduction are copyrighted, the main text is not. For older (pre-1926) content, there is a good chance that Project Gutenberg has it for free, but B&N will charge money for it. Of course there might be advantages to the non-free version (such as better formatting). Be aware, and make an informed choice.

Kobo Reader

Kobo has had positive reviews, and is less restrictive about where it gets content than devices from B&N and Amazon.

Putting a Project Gutenberg epub file onto a Kobo couldn’t be easier. Connect your Kobo to your computer, then drag and drop the epub from your computer to the Kobo. When you disconnect your Kobo, it will automatically ingest the epub, and add it to “My Books.”

The Kobo reader online store includes free access to 100 of the most popular Project Gutenberg titles. You need to go through the registration process to get access to the store. Direct transfer of downloaded eBooks from a computer to the Kobo did not immediately work for us, but is supposed to be supported. The Kobo supports PDF and EPUB formats, and has a simple built-in Web browser that can be used to read eBooks online. Project Gutenberg would like to thank Kobo for providing free evaluation readers in 2010.

We have had reports that the Project Gutenberg website does not work well with the web browser found on some new Kobo devices.


The Android operating system is found on many phones and tablets. The specific features and applications varies, and there are often customizations to Android that change functionality. Android devices include Web browsers that can be used to read Project Gutenberg’s text and HTML eBooks online.

For other file types, you can try copying from your computer to the device as described above. Use the Google Play Store or a similar source for searching for apps, to find ways to download and display EPUB and MOBI (Kindle) files.

iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch

Your regular Web browser (Safari, etc.) can read Project Gutenberg eBooks online.

If you prefer to download, instead of reading online, the fastest way to get Project Gutenberg ebooks onto your iOS device is to use the built-in browser to download the EPUB format and then “open in” the preferred application.

You can also get Project Gutenberg’s eBook files onto the iPad using iTunes or other programs that transfer files to your device. This works for EPUB files, and it also works well for Project Gutenberg’s MP3 audio eBooks.

We have received this specific set of instructions from a reader. They might not work exactly on your iPad, and are intended to illustrate the general process. They assume you have installed the Amazon Kindle app from Apple’s app store - this is only one of many applications that can display Kindle (MOBI) or EPUB-formatted files - different applications would utilize similar steps:

  1. Choose “Kindle” (MOBI) option for book download from Project Gutenberg
  2. Click on “More”
  3. Choose “Save to Files”
  4. Choose “On my iPad” and select a document app such as File Explorer (available in Apple’s app store)
  5. Click “Add” (at this point you can then disconnect from the Internet)
  6. Open the “Files” app
  7. Select “On my iPad”
  8. Select the document app where you put file
  9. Press and hold the .mobi file to reveal menu, and then press “Share”
  10. Select “Copy to Kindle,” and the book will now be in your library.

Project Gutenberg would like to thank Apple for providing devices for evaluation in 2009 and 2010.

Suggestions from Project Gutenberg Founder Michael Hart

Michael Hart was a proponent of eBooks on mobile devices. He offered these ideas in February 2010. This guidance might not be directly applicable to all of today’s portable devices.

I’m writing this because 90% of the questions we receive at help @ are about buying dedicated eReaders at prices from $200 to over $1,000.

Before actually plunking down that much money, I suggest trying reading Project Gutenberg and other eBooks on the laptops, notebooks, netbooks, cellphones or PDAs already in your collection of devices. I have known many people who have read very lengthy works on their cellphone, PDA or whatever while standing in lines over a period of one or two weeks and are have thus doubled their book number per year without taking any extra time.

If you adjust the font, color, size, etc., you should be able to find a decent reading experience for yourself.

WARNING: DO NOT BUY A CELLPHONE WITHOUT WIFI, they will just jack up your bill but wifi costs little or nothing.

If you insist on getting a dedicated ereader, I’m afraid we don’t ever get into recommending specific products on Project Gutenberg, even those we like the best/use most.

However, we do sometimes post reviews.

In my own experiences in electronics over some 55 years, it has been obvious that the greatest value lies in some products that include multiple functions, such as what a hifi person would call a “receiver” which includes amps, preamps, equalizers, tuners and various other functions. Each amp, preamp, equalizer and tuner could be had quite readily as a separate box with a separate power supply– complete with it’s own transformer, AC cord, box, panels and and decorations, knobs, lights, etc.

Believe it or not, if you look at the inventory of parts of any of these items it is the pretty front panel costs the most, then the knobs, then the ugly box with the big clunky power supply that converts the AC to DC, etc.

I apologize, but I can’t remember all the details, but I was totally astounded at finding out that was quite true in whole general hifi world. . .the actual parts that in reality created the “value” cost the least.

As a result, the first computer I ever bought was like a hifi receiver in respects, as it had everything in a big chassis that held the monitor, drives, printer, cards in one with the keyboard above the motherboard. It did not take as much space, it did not require as many cables or other interfaces, it took only one AC socket, and, every single part was completely adjusted to the system.

I have built computers totally from parts many time, and done the same with many other electronics and I’ve never been a fan of having all the separate boxes. However, I must admit that the very best, if you are going to spend as much on each box as I was spending on entire systems, are available only in separate boxes. . .but one connect that doesn’t work right can ruin the whole thing.