Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Downloading the Classics

From the folks at the Official Google Blog:
Starting today, you can go to Google Book Search and download full copies of out-of-copyright books to read at your own pace. You're free to choose from a diverse collection of public domain titles -- from well-known classics to obscure gems.

Before the rise of the public library -– a story chronicled in this 1897 edition of The Free Library – access to large collections of books was the privilege of a wealthy minority. Now, with the help of our wonderful library partners, we're able to offer you the ability to download and read PDF versions of out-of-copyright books from some of the world’s greatest collections.

Using Google Book Search, you can find The Free Library and many other extraordinary old books, such as:

* Ferriar's The Bibliomania
* A futurist from 1881's 1931: A Glance at the Twentieth Century
* Aesop's Fables
* Shakespeare's Hamlet
* Abbott's Flatland
* Hugo's Marion De Lorme
* Dunant's Eine Erinnerung an Solferino
* Bolívar's Proclamas
* Dante's Inferno

To find out-of-copyright books that you can download, simply select the "Full view" radio button when you search on (Please note that we do not enable downloading of any book currently under copyright. Unless we have the publisher’s permission to show more, we display only small snippets of text –- at most, two or three sentences surrounding your search term -– to help you determine if you’ve found what you’re looking for.)

Of course, this is just the beginning. As we digitize more of the world's books -- whether rare, common, popular or obscure -- people everywhere will be able to discover them on Google Book Search.
For someone stranded 150 miles from the nearest english bookstore and maybe 3000 miles from the nearest english volume library, this is great news!

Unfortunately, they still seem to be missing quite a few of my favorites (no War and Peace or Count of Monte Cristo). Maybe they couldn't find a good translation?

Edit: Danny Sullivan at SearchEngineWatch weighs in with the highs and lows of the Google Project to date. His verdict? Stick to Project Gutenberg for now.


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