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electronic books

May 16 2010

The Baen Free Library

by Jesse M

Baen Books is a science fiction and fantasy publishing company established in 1983 by long time science fiction publisher and editor Jim Baen. The company was ranked eighth in terms of total books published (in the SF genre) and was the fifth most popular SF publisher based on the number of bestseller list appearances, according to the Locus 2005 Book Summary. Notable authors published by Baen books include David Weber, Larry Niven, Mercedes Lackey, and Robert Heinlein.

Baen books also offers something else which sets them apart from their peers: free downloads of select published works by their stable of authors through The Baen Free Library. Baen author Eric Flint explains:
“Baen Books is now making available — for free — a number of its titles in electronic format. We’re calling it the Baen Free Library. Anyone who wishes can read these titles online — no conditions, no strings attached.”
The idea is that rather than adopt the restrictive digital rights management approach, authors could choose to allow the opening novel in a series to be read online for free, under the theory that a free copy would get people interested in the author and would not only increase sales of the physical book itself but also create return buyers for the other titles in the series. Additionally, as Flint points out, their approach is an effective way to generate word of mouth advertising:

“How many people who read a book they like which they obtained from a public library never mention it to anyone? As a rule, in my experience, people who frequently borrow books from libraries are bibliophiles. And bibliophiles, in my experience, usually can’t refrain from talking about books they like.”

The DCPL catalog contains many titles by these authors, so if one of the free ebooks available from Baen piques your interest in a series, it is likely you can get the rest of the books for free as well, from your local library.

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Oct 2 2009

Library of the Future?

by Jesse M

library-without-books “When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books.’’

So says James Tracy, headmaster of Cushing Academy, a prep school located west of Boston with a student population of about 420. It is a radical statement, and one which is being followed to what some would consider a radical conclusion: the gradual transition from a 20,000 volume collection to a mostly bookless, digital library. Despite the small size of the school, the announcement has made waves throughout the library world ever since being reported on by The Boston Globe on September 4. Much of the reaction has been negative. Jessamyn West of Librarian.net writes that she is “skeptical”” of the idea. Commenting on the school’s decision to spend $10,000 to purchase 18 Kindle Readers to replace the library’s collection of books, Keith Michael Fiels, executive director of the American Library Association, worried that “unless every student has a Kindle and an unlimited budget, I don’t see how that need is going to be met.’’ Author Nicholas Basbanes had very little positive to say in an article for finebooksmagazine.com entitled Philistines at the Gate, wherein he suggested that college admission officers might look askance at an application from a student at a school “that does not require its students to read books at all”.

Criticism of the plan is not limited to those outside of Cushing. Liz Vezina, Director of the Fisher-Watkins Library and librarian at Cushing for 17 years, expressed dismay. “I’m going to miss them…there’s something lost when they’re virtual…the smell, the feel, the physicality of a book is something really special.’’

[read the rest of this post…]


May 15 2008

Find Full Text Books Online!

by Jimmy L

Did you know you can find the full text of entire books online?  There are several places you can do this, and—like the library—it’s all free.

A list of six of these places can be found on our Electronic Books links webpage.

  • netLibrary over 27,000 electronic books that may be borrowed (checked out) for onscreen viewing.  This resource can only be accessed through the library website.  After clicking the link, you will have to click the “netLibrary” link again on the DCPL website.
  • Project Gutenberg provides access to book titles in the public domain. Project Gutenberg is the first and largest single collection of free electronic books, digitized by volunteers on their website. 
  • African American Women Writers of the 19th Century is a digital collection of some 52 published works by 19th-century black women writers. A part of the Digital Schomburg, this collection provides access to the thought, perspectives and creative abilities of black women as captured in books and pamphlets published prior to 1920.
  • Bartleby.com publishes the classics of literature, nonfiction, and reference free of charge for the home, classroom, and desktop.
  • Classic Book Shelf electronic library providing free access to great works of classic literature.
  • Folklore and Mythology Electronic Texts full text electronic collection of international folktales.

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Nov 29 2007

The Pack Rats of the Internet

by Jimmy L

Did you know you can find the full text of many books online?  Here are a few sites who specialize in archiving (and providing free of charge) everything from books, films, sound, and even other websites:

Project Gutenberg
Project Gutenberg is a volunteer effort to digitize, archive, and distribute cultural works.  It is also the original, and oldest, e-text project on the Internet, founded in 1971.  The project has made over 19,000 eBooks available, with an average of 400 more being added each month.  They publish whatever they can publish legally, which usually means they publish books in the public domain.  Although you won’t be able to find the latest best sellers here, you could find plenty of the classics from Shakespeare and Dante to Lewis Carroll and the Sherlock Holmes stories.


UbuWeb is a completely independent resource dedicated to all strains of the avant-garde, ethnopoetics, and outsider arts.  It functions as a distribution center for hard-to-find, out-of-print and obscure materials, transferred digitally to the web.  As a result, most of the things you’ll find here are things you won’t be able to find anywhere else!  It is in this way that the site has grown to encompass hundreds of artists (including the likes of John Lennon, Alexander Calder, and Gertrude Stein) and hundreds of gigabytes of sound files, books, texts and videos.

The Wayback Machine
What if you could go back in time and take a snapshot of the world wide web?  Well, you can with the Wayback Machine.  Since 1996, the Wayback Machine has archived 85 billion web pages.  Simply type in the web address that you would like to examine, then select the month and year you want to see it.  Voila!  Who said time travel wasn’t possible?

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