Hundreds of thousands of electronic texts are freely available on the internet, and many of them are texts which are used in colleges and universities in the UK. A report was commissioned by the JISC E-books Working Group to investigate the following questions:

The final report was produced in March 2003 and presented to the JISC. All of the information regarding the project can be found in the final report, which is now free to download in various formats, listed below:


XHTML version for reading online in a web browser. Can be viewed with Internet Explorer, Netscape, etc..


PDF format. This is the best version of the report to cite and refer to, and is the best for printing.


XML version encoded following the guidelines of the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI). This is the best version for repurposing and migrating to other formats, and for archival purposes.


Rich Text Format version. RTF is a format for interchange between computers and software. It is a Microsoft standard for encoding a document including the formatting information in an ASCII file. Requires software such as MS Word to read it.


A plain ASCII text version. This document does not require any specialised software to read it.


Mobipocket version for reading on a PDA with the Mobipocket Reader software. There is also a viewer for the Windows PC.


Palm database, for PalmReader and other PDA viewing software.


Microsoft .lit format, for Microsoft Reader.

To find out more about these formats and what you can do with them, read the report! The XML and PDF versions have been carefully prepared, and should be considered as the definitive or reference versions. The rest are produced automatically from the XML version, and there are no guarantees about how the text formatting and graphics are rendered. Please refer to the PDF to see what things should look like, and to the XML version to see the logical structure of the document. The alternate versions are made available here as examples of documents in the formats which are discussed in the report.

If you would like to cite the report please do so as:

Berglund, Ylva, Alan Morrison, Rowan Wilson and Martin Wynne (2004), An Investigation into Free E-books, Arts and Humanities Data Service,