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Many good answers on this site are going to require quoting passages of the text of a novel, poem, play, or other piece of literature. Thus, knowing where to find such passages is going to be very important for the site's users in composing their answers.

Copying them out by hand from paper books works, but is slow and tiring. Finding pirated texts online probably also works (I've never tried), but we don't want to encourage that here. So:

what are some good, legal, online resources for finding texts to quote?

I'll post a community-wiki answer to this question which anyone can edit. Let's try to get a really good list all in one place so that we can refer people to it in the future.

  • Do you mean to ask about free resources? I infer from the sites you included in your answer that you were, but I don't see the word "free" in your question (unless I just missed it). Would amazon.com work in an answer? That site satisfies "good," "legal," and "online." – Shokhet Mar 31 '17 at 2:14
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    Related administrative note regarding resource lists on meta - latin.meta.stackexchange.com/a/142 - Should this be moved to the main site? – Chenmunka Mar 31 '17 at 7:32
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    I think that clearly suggests we should move this to the main site. – Benjamin Mar 31 '17 at 11:58
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    @Chenmunka Ah, but I'm not just asking for a random list of literature-relevant resources: I'm trying to set up a resource which will help people with writing posts on Literature.SE. That's what meta is for. (This is why I was careful to include that 2nd sentence in my question.) – Rand al'Thor Apr 1 '17 at 13:01
  • It would be helpful if we could just get guidance to be sure. – Benjamin Apr 2 '17 at 10:49
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    @Benjamin Does this count as guidance? :-) – Rand al'Thor Apr 4 '17 at 9:17
  • No, not really because the advice there is coming from an admin. – Benjamin Apr 4 '17 at 9:57
  • @Benjamin Well, you've got my comment above explaining why I think this should stay on meta, and a mod of this site who clearly agrees. I'm not sure what else you want. We can't call in a CM for every little meta issue. – Rand al'Thor Apr 4 '17 at 9:59
  • If this question exists, it can't exist on the main site, because it would be closed as a recommendation question. Should the question be allowed on meta? I don't really care, but I could go either way. – user111 Apr 6 '17 at 18:55
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    Reasoning for why this should stay here: 1.) It doesn't belong on the main site. It would be closed as either too broad, because it's an open-ended list question, or off-topic, as a recommendation question. 2.) It's designed for helping this community in their efforts on this site. (cc @Benjamin) – Mithical Apr 7 '17 at 6:29
  • @Mithrandir I think I now agree. – Benjamin Apr 7 '17 at 10:33
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    @Shokhet (Sorry, I must have missed your comment at first.) I think I'd like to focus on free resources if possible, since you can get nearly any book reasonably easily if you're willing to pay for it, and I doubt many people will be willing to spend money just to write answers on SE. But if enough people think a non-free section in the CW answer would be useful, then by all means add one. – Rand al'Thor Apr 19 '17 at 21:07
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Sites which cover many books

  • Project Gutenberg. An excellent resource containing thousands of texts in electronic versions with easily copy-pastable text. They also care about legality:

    Our ebooks may be freely used in the United States because most are not protected by U.S. copyright law, usually because their copyrights have expired. They may not be free of copyright in other countries. Readers outside of the United States must check the copyright laws of their countries before downloading or redistributing our ebooks. We also have a number of copyrighted titles, for which the copyright holder has given permission for unlimited non-commercial worldwide use.

    Probably due to differing copyright laws or focus of volunteers, Project Gutenberg Australia sometimes has ebooks that its US cousin does not.

  • Goodreads. This site does not give the text for the entire book, however it does give previews, whose length are decided by the author/company. These previews are often quite lengthy, making this site perfect if you are looking for something in the first few chapters. It is totally legal, and is run by Amazon. The Wikipedia page has this to say on the "Content Access":

    Goodreads users can read or listen to a preview of a book on the website using Kindle Cloud Reader and Audible. Goodreads also offers quizzes and trivia, quotations, book lists, and free giveaways. Members can receive the regular newsletter featuring new books, suggestions, author interviews, and poetry. If a user has written a work, the work can be linked on the author's profile page, which also includes an author's blog.

  • The Internet Archive eBooks and texts. This site has many scans of public-domain texts, plus some other content that is available with permission of the copyright holder.

  • Wikisource has many public domain works in text format, with options for download in various ebook formats. (In English, Hebrew, Russian, and many other languages.)

  • The Perseus Digital Library Project covers the history, literature and culture of the Greco-Roman world, sources on the history of the 19th-century United States and more. Primary and secondary sources are nicely catalogued to help the browsing researcher in this set of collections maintained by Tufts University since the 80s.

  • The University of Virginia hosts hypertexts of many older works of American literature, including those of Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

  • For questions, Poetry Foundation has a large collection of poems.
  • For , Magyar Elektronikus Könyvtár (MEK, at http://mek.niif.hu/ or http://mek.oszk.hu/ ) collects many fiction and non-fiction books, some in public domain, and some copyrighted but displayed on the site with permission. Also includes a few audiobooks by Magyar Vakok és Gyengénlátók Országos Szövetsége.
  • Luminarium provides an anthology of English literature covering four periods: the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the seventeenth century and the Restoration.
  • Loyal Books, formerly known as "Books Should Be Free", provides a collection of public domain audio books and e-books.
  • Sacred Texts provides the full texts of assorted books of religion, mythology, and folklore. These range from the Bible to the Kalevala to texts on Native American spirituality, and MANY more!
  • ...

Sites for specific books/authors

I'll mention a few places here which I've already found useful in constructing answers on this site. Feel free to remove them if you think these works aren't important enough to be singled out like this.


Please help add to and improve this answer!

That's why I've made it CW - this is a community resource, so let's all muck in and help to create it.

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    Please don't add links to this answer unless that you are 100% sure they are legal and not pirated. – user111 Apr 4 '17 at 2:29
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    You can search the full text of copyrighted works at Google Books and Amazon, but I don't know if those are the sort of resource you're looking for. The excerpts are sometimes all you need, or they may be enough to decide whether it's worth paying a visit to your local library for a specific book. – amaranth Apr 6 '17 at 19:41
  • I've found this website, which lists numerous platforms that are either libraries or shopping platforms. I'll take a stroll through it later and add the good ones. – Gallifreyan Apr 10 '17 at 11:45
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    I'm not sure if this warrants an edit to this post, but you should check with your local library. You might not be aware, but many have ebooks available for "loan." Yours might, too. – Shokhet Apr 16 '17 at 20:18
  • Tor.com Publishing has hundreds of short stories and novelettes available for free on its site and will often also make entire ebooks available for limited times as part of marketing campaigns. – BESW Jul 17 '17 at 1:50
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    @BESW Why not edit instead of commenting? That's why this post is CW :-) – Rand al'Thor Jul 17 '17 at 8:01

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