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Reading, downloading and converting ebooks

The ebooks on this site are in the public domain in Australia (that is, they are not subject to copyright in Australia) and may be read and downloaded without charge. If you need help with some of the terms used here, go to the definitions section at the end of this page.

ebooks which are HELD ON THIS SITE can be available as a TEXT (.txt) file, HTML (.html) file, EPUB (.epub) file, MOBI (.mobi) file or PDF (.pdf) file or any combination of these file types. The file types are shown on the listing for each ebook. Here is a listing of an available ebook which is available in several file types:--

John BUCHAN (1875-1940)
The Thirty-nine Steps (1915)--Text--HTML--EPUB--MOBI

To read one of our ebooks online, simply click your mouse on the blue link for the file type of your choice.

If you wish to transfer the file to your own computer (so that you can read it when not connected to the internet, using a word processor, a text editor, an ebook reader (e-reader) or an interent browser such as Microsoft Edge) you need to click the RIGHT mouse button on the blue link for the required file type, then save the file to the location of your choice. Once downloaded, it is best to view Text files using a non-proportional font, such as 'Courier New', so that any formatting within the text file is displayed correctly.

Specifically for HTML files, it is best op left click on "HTML'" then right click anywhere on the page of the file you have just opened, and then SAVE the file.

Later in this article we discuss in greater detail, ways to read our ebooks.

Some of the ebooks listed on this site are not actually held on this site. Instead a link is provided to transfer the user to the location of the actual book. Once transferred to the internet location of the actual ebook, the available formats of the ebook will be displayed. The instructions outlined in the above paragraphs will apply if you want to read and/or download the ebook.


Reading ebooks on your personal computer or laptop, e-reader, phone or tablet

e-readers and tablets

Once downloaded to your computer, ebooks can be transferred to an e-reader or tablet. We are not able to provide advice about transferring files to e-readers or tablets as there are many different devices and many different formats are supported. You need to consult the user guide accompanying your e-reader or tablet. However, it is safe to say that ebooks for the Kindle are usually in MOBI or AZW format and that most other e-readers and tablets support the EPUB format.

Calibre is free software which will convert the TEXT and HTML files which we provide, into the relevant format for your e-reader. The software can be downloaded from the Calibre web site. If we provide a HTML file for the ebook you are interested in, it is best to convert that file, rather than the TEXT file, to MOBI or EPUB format as required.

web browsers

A web browser, such as Microsoft Edge or Chrome, is usually supplied with desktop computers, laptops, mobile phones and tablet computers. This browser will enable you to read our ebooks although you will not be able to bookmark where you are up to in reading the ebook. In the next section we discuss another way of reading our files which is more like reading on an e-reader, but without the need to convert our files.

apps (applications) which "mimic" e-readers

Free, or low cost, apps (applications) are usually available from the "app store" associated with each particular phone or tablet computer, and from the internet for desktop and laptop computers, which will enable you to read our TEXT files and HTML files, while at the same time allowing you to bookmark pages, change the font size of the words and perform other functions to enhance the reading experience. This same software will also read ebooks in the epub format, in which case you may wish to use Calibre, mentioned in the previous paragraph to convert the file which you have downloaded from Project Gutenberg Australia into EPUB format.

More questions?

If you have other questions they may be answered at Project Gutenberg's Frequently asked questions page--almost everything you ever wanted to know about Project Gutenberg and ebooks.


web page

A document displayed on the world wide web (www) or internet. The document you are now viewing is a web page.

web site

A collection of web pages belonging to one internet location. The web site which you are currently visiting is

text file

A document held on a computer which contains only alphabetic letters and numbers. It is not possible to provide special effects such as italicised letters. No images can be displayed. In some text files accented characters (e.g. ) are included. Project Gutenberg ebooks contain a break at the end of each line so that the file can be read without the words going off the edge of the page.

html file

A document held on a computer which is commonly displayed in a web browser and which can contain alphabetic letters and numbers, images, coloured text and background and hyperlinks.

epub file

EPUB is an e-book file format that uses the ".epub" file extension. The term is short for "electronic publication" and is sometimes styled ePub. EPUB is supported by many e-readers, and compatible software is available for most smartphones, tablets, and computers.

mobi file

.mobi is an e-book file that uses the ".mobi" file extension. These files can be read using the "Kindle" e-reader.

PDF file

PDF (Portable Document Format) is a file format developed by Adobe in the 1990s to present documents, including text formatting and images, in a manner independent of application software, hardware, and operating systems. At Project Gutenberg Australia our PDF files consist of images of the pages of a particular book.

file format or file type

ebooks are produced in differnt formats, or file types. Common formats are epub, mobi, azw, pdf, html and text. The Kindle e-reader uses mobi or azw files whilst most other e-readers use epub files. Some e-readers also support pdf, html and text files.


A word, or series of words, usually in blue underlined text, which when clicked with the mouse takes the user to another web page or to a different location in the current page. Images can also be used as hyperlinks. The mouse pointer changes from an arrow to a hand when the mouse pointer is pointed at a hyperlink. This hyperlink will take you to the top of this page.

ebook or etext

A document held on a computer (an "electronic" file) which may or may not have been been created from a conventional book.

e-reader or ebook reader

A device for reading ebooks. E-readers usually support ebooks created in different formats. The documentation accompanying the e-reader should be consulted to determine whether a particular e-reader can read ebooks produced by Project Gutenberg Australia i.e. HTML and/or Text.

ebook software

An application (app) for reading ebooks on personal computers, tablets and phones, which provides features such as bookmarking, changing the font size, etc. There are a number of free e-reader programs on the internet and at the "app" store on phones.

text to speech software

A computer program which can process an ebook and read it back to the user using simulated speech. The speakers which are attached to most computers must be turned on. See previous paragraph for free software.


A computer operating system designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers. Devices using the android operating system are often in competition with devices developed by Apple, such as the iPhone, iPod and iPad.



Updated 12 September 2022