We heard a little while back about a deal that the British Library had made to make works available for the Kindle.
The British Library has now put out a press release talking more about the deal.
I’m really excited about this! I read a lot of 19th Century literature, and that’s what’s involved here. This release will make many books available that people currently can’t get easily.
I love that it includes “penny dreadfuls”, which certainly weren’t considered great literature in their day. A lot of things I like are treated as ephemera, and virtually no one is making an effort to preserve them. I have materials like that in my private library…I won’t say nobody else has them, certainly, and not very many people would want them. I’m hoping to digitize them myself, at some point.
The works include A Strange Story by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Lytton (as the library cites his name) was very popular, and we still see his influence today. He gave us the phrases “the pen is mightier than the sword” and the “almighty dollar”. His fictional ideas reportedly influenced the Nazis, and supposedly, Snoopy in Charlie Brown took the line “It was a dark and stormy night” from B-L.
That’s just a taste of the 65,000 works this will make available. For people who don’t have Kindles (for which all of these will be free), you can get them in cheap paper editions.
This is all very interesting and may be a direct response to the Google Books settlement. There is no question that this is legal…it’s all works in the public domain. Some of the language in the press release is reminiscent of comments Google has made about how their project brings books to the world.
It does make one wonder why the books aren’t also being released in other formats that would be accessible on more devices or free online. I assume ther is some remuneration involved. What do you think about that? Are you okay with only people with a certain brand of EBR (E-Book Reader) being able to get the e-book version of these works? Feel free to let me know…
UPDATE: One of my readers, Bonnie, pointed out that the works would be available on the free apps, which means people could read them on PCs, iPhones, iPod touches, Blackberrys…soon, Macs, and from what we’ve heard, the Apple iPad. I don’t know that they would be free outside the US that way, but it is an excellent point.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.