As anyone knows, the cost of college textbooks is sky-high. One of the advantages of being an English major, however, is that you are studying novels and plays that are available relatively inexpensively in paperback. Quite often you can get them used in the college bookstore for slightly under the price of new, or you can get them in a secondhand bookstore for a lot less. My local library operates a bookstore where I get a lot of books for a dollar each, and I did manage to pick up some of my books there. I doubt if there are any chemistry majors out there who can buy a textbook for a buck.

Still, when it comes to works in the public domain, instructors often rely on huge anthologies. I like anthologies, because they always provide a lot of other good reading, since we rarely covered more than 10% of what it contained. (This is by design. Textbook publishers try to design anthologies that as many instructors as possible will adopt.)

While I like having the extra material, it also irks me that quite often most of what these anthologies contain is in the public domain, and is freely available on the web. (Project Gutenberg is a good source for many of these.) Sadly, however, most materials available on the web are not amenable to academic discussion, since they have neither page numbers nor line numbers.

All is not lost, however.

One of my first jobs out of college was desktop publishing. I know how to lay how text on a page and make it look good, I thought. I also have a content delivery network at my disposal. Why not combine the two to publish these works in a way that makes them easy to distribute, but includes page numbers and line numbers to facilitate academic discussion?

And thus, the Lit Project was born. You can visit it here.

That’s a terrible name, I realize, and if you have a better one, I’m open to suggestions. The important points are:

  • All works are available as a .pdf file. Instructors can make photocopies, post the pdf to a class website, or email them to students.
  • The .pdf files are a hybrid size, meaning that they will print fine on either letter-sized paper (8.5 x 11 inches) or A4 paper.
  • Each file has both page numbers and line numbers.
  • All works are available to anyone for free.

A couple of things I want you to be aware of, however:

  • If you want to post these to your class website, feel free. Just download them from here and upload them to your own system.
  • This is very much an “as I have spare time” project. If you want to support it (which will speed things along), you can visit the support page. (The link is at the bottom of the Lit Project page.)

Thanks. If you have questions or suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment.

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