The free download site for books Gutenberg, lists it's ten most popular books as:-
1 Pride and Prejudice (Austen, Jane)
2 Jane Eyre (Brontë, Charlotte)
3 Little Women (Alcott, Louisa May)
4 Anne of Green Gables (Montgomery, L. M. (Lucy Maud))
5 The Count of Monte Cristo (Dumas, Alexandre)
6 The Secret Garden (Burnett, Frances Hodgson)
7 Les Misérables (Hugo, Victor)
8 Crime and Punishment (Dostoyevsky, Fyodor)
9 The Velveteen Rabbit (Bianco, Margery Williams)
10 Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Twain, Mark)
if you feel the need to know the top 100. Could be useful as you then have an idea as to what is available for free.
I suppose it is the problem of having the uploads completed by amateurs.
I used to use Gutenberg some years ago when it was the only such collection in the 1970s and they have some excellent resources, but when I found out more I found that content had often been modified by the person who transcribed the book plus editorial amendments and corrections, especially the latter once electronic auto spell and grammar checks had begun. Quotes that appeared in work by Gutenberg users were often rejected by review editors because they deviated from the author's version or certified and approved translation and occasionally even changed the content and meaning of text. Students doing literature courses, degrees particularly, were getting bad coursework responses from markers, nonetheless distance learners have persisted in using Gutenberg to save investment in books. At a guess, and no prejudice intended, many of these readers (certainly for the top four) correspond with book choices for English literature distance learning such as OU courses and since the proportion of students by gender nowadays is many more women to men, conclusions to that effect may answer why.
I’m inclined to agree, Brian. Who downloads them in such great number? Students? Because they are free?
Oh gawd, mediocrity epitomised...