I "met" Michael Hart via e-mail back in 2001 when I first created my hyper-linked Word document of Spinoza's Ethics
. I had contacted him personally because at the time, P.G. only featured plain text files. (If memory serves me correctly, they referred to these files as being in a “plain vanilla wrapper.”) I believe my hyper-linked Ethics Word document was the first non-text-only file they offered. Mr. Hart was very helpful in walking me through the process of uploading it to Project Gutenberg, and even converted the word doc to back to plain text himself. With someone like him at the helm, it's not hard to see why Project Gutenberg has become so popular and grown like it has. I just hope his "passing the editor torch" doesn't negatively affect Project Gutenberg, although he's probably right to try to build an organization that isn't too dependent on one person.
It was in the Fall of 2001 that PG announced with pride that they had just crossed a major threshold: 4,000 books available for download. They now have over 30,000 texts, with an additional 100,000 available from their Partners, Affiliates and Resources.
The Word document of the Ethics (ethic10w.doc) has since disappeared from Project Gutenberg (although the text file remains), but if anyone’s interested, I recently converted it into MOBI format:
converted that into a ePub: