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Standard Ebooks sources titles from places like Project Gutenberg, the Internet Archive, and Wikisource, among others, but differs from those projects in that the goal is to maximize readability for a modern audience, take advantage of accessibility features available in modern e-book file formats, and to streamline updates to the e-books (such as typo fixes) by making use of GitHub as a collaboration tool.
All Standard Ebooks titles are released in epub, azw3, and Kepub formats, and are available through Google Play Books and Apple Books. All of the project's e-book files are released in the United States public domain, and all code is released under the GNU General Public License v3.
Standard Ebooks produces e-books by following a unified style guide, which specifies everything from typography standards to semantic tagging and internal code structure, with the goal of creating a consistent corpus, aligned with modern publishing standards and "cleaned of ancient and irrelevant ephemera[example needed]." Standard Ebooks works with organizations such as the National Network for Equitable Library Service, and strives to conform to DAISY Consortium accessibility standards, among others, to ensure that all productions will work with modern tools such as screen readers.
With the goal of making public domain works more accessible to modern audiences, archaic spellings are modernized and typographic quirks are addressed "so ebooks look like books and not text documents." This approach stands in contrast to the work of transcription sites like Project Gutenberg, which John Gruber of Daring Fireball described as "an amazing library," but whose books are "a mess typographically."
All book covers are derived from public domain fine art. Volunteer e-book producers locate paintings suitable for the work they are producing.
Standard Ebooks was founded by Alex Cabal after he experienced frustration at being unable to find well-formatted English-language e-books while living in Germany. After early experiments creating a pay what you want edition of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the Standard Ebooks website was launched in 2017. Initial notice came from posts on Hacker News and Reddit, with later mentions including Stack Overflow's newsletter.
In 2021, Standard Ebooks began accepting donations and sponsorships to produce specific books.
- "Free eBooks with Modern Typography & Nice Formatting, All "Carefully Produced for the True Book Lover"". Open Culture. 21 June 2017. Retrieved 17 June 2020.
- Pot, Justin. "Standard Ebooks Offers Public Domain Downloads That Aren't Ugly". How-To Geek.
- Austin, Patrick Lucas (20 June 2017). "Standard eBooks Is a Gutenberg Project You'll Actually Use". Lifehacker.
- Kozlowski, Michael (25 June 2020). "Standard Ebooks is a great place to download free content". Good e-Reader. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
- "Standard eBooks Is a Gutenberg Project You'll Actually Use". Lifehacker. 20 June 2017. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
- "Standard Ebooks". daringfireball.net.
- "Fill up your ebook reader with beautifully formatted free classics". thenextweb.com. 21 June 2017.
- pressmaster (19 February 2021). "Alex Cabal: Standard Ebooks". Mythaxis Review. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
- "The results from our pay-what-you-want ebook pricing experiment are in – Alex Cabal". 7 April 2014. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
- "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland – Standard Ebooks". 10 February 2014. Archived from the original on 10 February 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
- Donovan, Ryan; Williams, Cassidy (12 August 2022). "The Overflow #138: Social learning for engineers". Stack Overflow Blog. Retrieved 12 October 2022.
- "Donate". standardebooks.org. Retrieved 9 May 2021.