Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Heaven for Readers of Classics

I have just seen heaven and it looks like this --

The British Library has just released an app for the iPad called British Library 19th Century Historical Collection App. What makes this different than any of the other collections of public domain fiction out there? Simply the fact that these are not digital files. They are scanned copies of early printings and first editions of a wide range of 18th and 19th century books.

I've just been perusing a collection of stories by Mrs. Henry Wood (Ellen Wood to those in the know) and looking at the title page of a 1882 printing of Frankenstein. There are easily 30+ novels in here that I would love to read. And there are also books on History, Poetry, Geography -- okay, I need to breathe! The only thing missing right now that I would love is Natural History. But I assume that it will appear as they add titles. They've launched with a decent number of titles but plan to increase it to 60,000 volumes by the end of the summer. The Beeb is impressed and so am I.

The current version is free but they will charge some undisclosed amount for an upgraded version later when there is more content. The app was created by Bibliolabs, LLC and it really is stellar. The pages are slightly yellowed, the covers are old and a bit faded and it is a book lover's heaven.

Can't blog, must read,


  1. Yes, I read about this, it sounds wonderful! It's almost tempting to buy an iPad so I can make use of it.

  2. I love the irony of these yellowed old pages of classics being read on a modern device like an iPad! Enjoy!

  3. Aw, that's charming. I haven't got an iPad (and likely to keep it that way), but it's fun that someone invented this for iPad users.

  4. Tracy - I haven't done any reading on my iPad yet but that will change with this. Being able to read what looks like a regular book is somehow easier for me than just large blocks of text. And the out-of-print Victorian novels are irresistable!

    Jenners - I know, it's such a strange mix but I think it might be the thing to break that book/machine barrier that some readers just can't get past.

    Jenny - It will be interesting to see if at some point there is an e-reader that keeps the book formatting.

  5. Oh man, now I want an iPad! What an interesting pairing of very old and very new.