Get 1925 lit classics for free: Fitzgerald, Dreiser, Hemingway, Woolf, Kafka, Huxley among authors

Bill Gates snapped up at least four rare copies of The Great Gatsby, the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic, and a Gatsby quote even adorns the ceiling of the library in his $127-million house. Gates sees Gatsby as a major inspiration and shared his passion as a Secret Santa, part of the Reditt site’s gift exchange. A fellow Gatsby lover in Michigan received a scanned version of the manuscript.

Props to Gates. But should such generosity be so random in regard to books—when libraries face new budget challenges, especially in paying for ebooks and audiobooks, whose use has skyrocketed during the virus crisis? U.S. public libraries can spend only about $1.7 billion a year on content of all kinds, digital and nondigital.

It is, yes, time for a multidonor national library endowment and two national digital library systems—and something else in the interest of a…

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