The British Library has decided that later in the spring it'll be making 65,000 great works of 19th Century fiction available, absolutely free, in ebook format. The books, which are first editions, will include the original typeface and illustrations in all cases.

Amongst the authors covered by the scheme are Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, and thousands more. The move is part of the library's ebook publishing project. There'll also be paperback versions available from Amazon for around £15.

"Freeing historic books from the shelves has the potential to revolutionise access to the world’s greatest library resources", said Lynne Brindley, the library's chief executive, who has been working with Microsoft to scan the books over the last 3 years.

All the books offered are out of copyright, and as well as the classics there'll also be a selection of "penny dreadfuls" available, including Black Bess by Edward Viles and The Dark Woman by J M Rymer. Around 40% of the titles aren't available in other libraries.

It's not clear yet where the books will be available from. When they're released, we'll be sure to let you know.