From the press release, through LIS Wire. This is really great news and I can’t wait to try it out, though, unfortunately, it won’t be free. I’ll leave out the blockquotes in the interest of easy reading. Release begins:
Readers and researchers looking for hard-to-find books now have the opportunity to dip into the collections of one of the world’s most comprehensive libraries to purchase digitized copies of public domain titles. Through their Digitize-on-Demand program, Kirtas Technologies has partnered with The New York Public Library to make 500,000 public domain works from the Library’s collections available (to anyone in the world).
“New technology has allowed the Library to greatly expand access to its collections,” said Paul LeClerc, President of The New York Public Library. “Now, for the first time, library users are able to order copies of specific items from our vast public domain collections that are useful to them. Additionally the program creates a digital legacy for future users of the same item and a revenue stream to support our operations. We are very pleased to participate in a program that is so beneficial to everyone involved.”
Using existing information from NYPL’s catalog records, Kirtas will make the library’s public domain books available for sale through its retail site before they are ever digitized. Customers can search for a desired title on www.kirtasbooks.com and place an order for that book. When the order is placed, only then is it pulled from the shelf, digitized and made available as a high-quality reprint or digital file.
What makes this approach to digitization unique is that NYPL incurs no up-front printing, production or storage costs. It also provides the library with a self-funding, commercial model helping it to sustain its digitization programs in the future. Unlike other free or low-cost digitization programs, the library retains the rights and ownership to their own digitized content.
Whether patrons are looking for a title about a president—such as, Memories of President Lincoln, by Walt Whitman—or by a president—African Game Trails; An account of the African wanderings of an American hunter-naturalist, by Theodore Roosevelt—The New York Public Library is the place to turn. Collections available on Kirtasbooks.com are from NYPL’s General Research Division and include books from the local and U.S. history, genealogy, humanities and social sciences collections. Titles include several 19th century cookbooks, a first print edition of Casey at the Bat by Ernest Thayer, The Origin of the Werewolf Superstition (1909) by Caroline Taylor, and first edition version of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick from 1851.
While this indeed a service to people who absolutely need to have access to a particular book which is unavailable anywhere else, it should be noted that it is a service you will pay for, and the price to the customer is not mentioned. I doubt it will be cheap.
Of course, it will be cheaper than flying to NYC and scanning the book yourself … assuming they would let you do that.