Steven Sills has published three books with Project Gutenberg (http://www.gutenberg.org/) . I didn't know until Steven sent me an e-mail awhile back that Project Gutenberg published original work. I thought they only published classics. Tells you what I know.
Michael Hart, the man who founded Project Gutenberg, tells me in an email that of the 15,400 eBooks at gutenberg.org, about 3 percent — some 500 books — are there “with the permission of the authors/copyright holders.” He also says that there are original works at gutenberg.cc as well — he guesses about 500 more.
I haven’t read Sills’s books and I can’t really review them. Since this blog is supposed to give readers a behind-the-scenes look at a book review editor’s world, this is a good opportunity to explain what The Inquirer does and doesn’t review and why. We don’t review eBooks, or print-on-demand (POD) books, or self-published books, including books by AuthorHouse or PublishAmerica or even Xlibris — which is part-owned by Random House.
This is not out of snobbery. If a publisher like Farrar Straus & Giroux decides to publish somebody’s manuscript, they assume the costs of printing and publicity. They are betting on that manuscript and putting their money up accordingly. In all the other cases, it is the author who is putting up the money and betting on himself or herself and his or her work. It is the fact that someone besides the author is willing to assume the risk of publishing that makes all the difference. After all, it’s hard enough to decide which books to review as it is. I believe that something like 175,000 books are being published by trade publishers annually now. The Inquirer reviews about 500 of them. In other words, most don’t make the cut.
There’s an opportunity here, though. With all the bloggers out there, maybe some people could start looking at these other books and reviewing them online. It’s a pretty safe bet that among all those other books are some — maybe a lot — worth reading. After all, there have been some pretty good self-published books. Leaves of Grass, for instance. All of William Blake’s books.
Here are links to Steven Sills’s books:
American Papyrus http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/4545
Corpus of a Siam Mosquito http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/5176
Tokyo to Tijuana: Gabriele Departing America http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/12733