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Project Gutenberg

Twelve Years a Slave now Available at Project Gutenberg
May 14, 2014 | 12:33 pm

twelve years a slaveIt pays to keep an eye on the new releases RSS feed sometimes! In the latest round of new releases from Project Gutenberg, I spotted an ebook release of Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup, the book which was the inspiration for the recent award-winning movie. I had seen ebook versions for sale at the Kindle and Kobo stores, but the book is public domain, so I balked a little at paying for it. It's nice to see a freely available version of this one. I think Project Gutenberg doesn't get enough credit sometimes from eBook fans. Many of their...

The early history of e-books
March 13, 2014 | 11:05 am

Host-by-Peter-James-002The Guardian has taken a look back at early e-books, trying to determine when they began. One example the article points out is a novel called Host, published as a publicity stunt on two floppy disks in 1993. Since the book was about a scientist who downloads his mind into a computer, I imagine it seemed like a natural way to drum up some publicity. The Bookseller reports that London’s Science Museum has accepted the book for display as “the world’s first electronic novel,” but there seems to be some question as to whether that’s really true. As the...

‘Steam in the Willows’ all smoke, no fire?
December 5, 2013 | 3:26 pm

steam-in-willowsRan across this Kickstarter project on GalleyCat. Australian writer Krista Brennan is raising money for “Steam in the Willows,” a “steampunk version” of the classic Kenneth Grahame novel The Wind in the Willows. It will be published in PDF, print, and (if a stretch goal is met) audiobook editions. Since the original book is in the public domain, people can of course publish or self-publish any version of it they like, and Brennan will be doing just that. Her project has successfully met its AU$6,600 goal (about US$5,985 at current exchange rates) with a week to go in the Kickstarter....

First all-digital public library system a hit in Bexar County, Texas—with hundreds of e-reader gizmos and an eager young crew to explain them
October 20, 2013 | 1:11 pm

bibliotechLast year LibraryCity.org knocked the library system in Rockford, Illinois, for planning to spend around a quarter of its $1.19-million collection budget on e-books. A third of Rockfordians were living below the poverty line in 2009 by one estimate. And yet the local library initially wanted to start out with just 50 Kindle e-readers---hardly the best solution for people too poor or technophobic to buy and use e-book devices. The local NAACP and other groups yelled foul, just as they should have. So what’s happening down in Bexar County, Texas? BiblioTech, the world’s first all-digital public library system, opened there September 14...

Refurbished Nook Simple Touch: $40 on eBay
September 24, 2013 | 4:48 am

If you’re looking for a good cheap e-reader, an eBay seller is running a $40 with free shipping special on refurbished Nook Simple Touch units. This is B&N’s 2011 model, a 6” 800x600 unlit Pearl e-ink reader that can do EPUB, including Barnes & Noble’s and Adobe Digital Editions’ DRM. It has 2 GB of onboard storage, plus an SD card slot for loading more media. If you’re invested in Barnes & Noble’s content ecosystem (for example, you have a lot of e-books from eReader/Fictionwise that got imported to B&N after it shut those stores down), or just want something...

Orkney’s Edwin Muir shows the strengths of Project Gutenberg Canada
July 2, 2013 | 8:25 pm

Project GutenbergThe remote Scottish Orkney Islands have a remarkably strong cultural presence for their few bleak acres of windswept turf. As it happens, it is just that heritage that is being celebrated right now in the year-long series of events entitled Writing the North, "a collaboration between the University of Edinburgh, the Shetland Museum and Archives and the Orkney Library and Archive." And one of the great Orcadian writers, the poet, novelist and cultural controversialist Edwin Muir (1887–1959), happens to be available in e-book form completely for free from Project Gutenberg Canada in an edition that showcases that institution's strengths, his 1937 collection...

My DRM-Free Year, Month 2: All hail indie Amazon authors!
February 27, 2013 | 11:00 am

DRM-FreeRead all the installments of “My DRM-Free Year” Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | Jun | Jul | Aug | Sep | Oct | Nov-Dec * * * It's been a busy month for me, work-wise, so I haven't had that much reading time—I logged just five books this month, which is pathetic. But this doesn't reflect my daily reading. I have a few longer-term books I'm reading (a book of daily essays, some reference books) which should bump my total when they're done, but that won't be for some time. I also have a special reading project I'm working on, which I'll explain shortly. So ... how is my DRM-free year going? The Library I'm still reading from them! My...

The 5 Steps of Intelligent Proofreading
December 21, 2012 | 10:07 pm

Over the years I’ve scanned and OCR’ed many printed books into electronic form for Gutenberg Australia—most of the Edgar Wallace collection there is my work, for instance—and during that time it’s become clear that not all typos are equal. After awhile, in fact, it became possible for me to divide typos into categories, as follows: Category 1: Typos due to English orthography Some letter sequences in English serif text happen to resemble others. The sequence ‘of her’, for instance, looks very much like ‘other’, and ‘thing’ looks very much like ‘tiling’. Every second or third book I scanned had these mistakes in it...

The lasting appeal of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica
April 10, 2012 | 11:48 pm

EncycBrit1913The Guardian has an interesting retrospective on the famed 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, published in 1911. This edition of the encyclopedia is one of the most renowned and romanticized, for a number of reasons. The fact that it was the first encyclopedia to be issued all at once, rather than volume by volume, might have something to do with it. But also, it represents one of the last great repositories of knowledge before humanity lost its innocence in the First World War. With the publication of the final volumes of the 11th, in...

‘Unquiet Library’ lends e-reader devices to students (Updated)
March 25, 2012 | 8:12 pm

unquietlibrary Update: I had not noticed until it was pointed out to me in the comments that the article I was reporting on was a year old. It was shown in Zite as a recent article (probably because of the “March” dateline without a year in the blog posting format). My eyes slid right over the “2011” in the subject line. I should have done more research, but I was in a hurry to post. I apologize for misreading the date. In fact, there was a more recent article from July stating that, due to friction with Amazon’s...

Public-domain digitization projects increasingly have restrictive terms of use
December 30, 2011 | 4:15 pm

Digitization of public-domain works is a good thing, right? Most literature fans would be quick to agree. However, Glyn Moody writes on Techdirt that some of the new public digitization projects have terms and conditions that seem to be right out of the dark ages. The Cambridge University’s Digital Library, for example, places strict limits on what users can do with the books—non-commercial use only, no modification, no passing it on to third parties, and so on. A number of the works in Cambridge’s library date from well before the 1710 Statute of Anne invented modern copyright, suggesting that...

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on why people no longer read
December 9, 2011 | 12:10 am

Conan_doyleOver the last few days, I’ve done something I’ve always meant to get around to but hadn’t yet: worked my way through the entire canon of Sherlock Holmes stories via their posting on Google Books. (Except for the last story collection, of course, which is not yet in the public domain in the US.) After that, I happened onto an interesting Conan Doyle work called Through the Magic Door, in which the author looks at his own bookshelf and discusses each of the works that are dear to his own heart. The first few paragraphs of the book especially...