Here's where you can get your public-domain copy of The Great Gatsby

Originally published at:

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I probably still have my copy from college… somewhere…

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That ebook version is much better for reading, but there are also several high-quality scans from Princeton’s special collections department that are online and downloadable as PDFs:



Pass; I was never that impressed with the novel.


I re-read this book every few years and of course my reaction to it changes. It’s a snapshot in time and a study of excessive personality. I wouldn’t say I love it but it feels necessary.


That’s certainly not the only work that’s now in public domain.

Spin on to 38:30:

Public domain titles
What’s old is about to be new again. 2021 sees the copyright expire on a bumper crop of books, films and music that came out in 1925 — making them fair game for American creators.

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Can’t you just go into the bookstore and grab a bound copy, now that it’s free? /s


From 2015,

The year 1925 was a golden moment in literary history. Ernest Hemingway’s first book, In Our Time, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway and F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby were all published that year. As were Gertrude Stein’s The Making of Americans, John Dos Passos’ Manhattan Transfer, Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy and Sinclair Lewis’s Arrowsmith, among others. In fact, 1925 may well be literature’s greatest year.

Hat tip to this site

which also notes that

In 2021, there is a lot to celebrate. 1925 brought us some incredible culture. The Harlem Renaissance was in full swing. The New Yorker magazine was founded. The literature reflected both a booming economy, whose fruits were unevenly distributed, and the lingering upheaval and tragedy of World War I.

It’s not so much that these cultural artifacts can be now freely passed around. It’s that anyone in the United States can adapt, remix, and extend these works without seeking permission from the literary estates.


So can I publish my own version with myself as author? I’ve always wanted to write a novel but it’s really hard.

Considering there is another post about an author complaining about bootlegs of her books are up on Amazon - I would say, “yes”.


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I found a copy of that book in the detritus of end-of-year locker clean out, but later someone stole it.

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And that’s important!

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It also means that you can finally be sure that you won’t be sued, even if you did license the work from the estate because someone else decides they have a claim on the work and files suit. Copyright is so absurdly long that there is a lot of room for disputes from a huge collection of descendants with decades old grudges and/or financial need. It’s not like people in the 30s were keeping detailed records of this stuff, the copyright term was short enough that it wasn’t likely to come up. And even if they did someone had to maintain those records for the intervening 90 years, which is no small task.

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