Microsoft and the British Library are to provide over 65,000 downloadable ebooks for nothing in the spring.

That's according to the Daily Telegraph, which reports that first editions of books by Charles Darwin, Jane Austen, Dickens and many other authors have been scanned in by Microsoft in a joint project with the British Library.

Jane Austen, from WikiCommAnd it's not only the classic authors who are to be made available for the Kindle e-reader platform, the Telegraph says that penny dreadfuls like Black Bess will also be made available.

All the books that the British Library will make downloadable are out of copyright.

By law, the British Library is supplied with one or more copies of every book published in England, meaning that its collection is unsurpassed.

The e-books will contain the original fonts and illustrations.