Sep 29, 2010

[Books] Digital Sources For Classic Titles

Banned Books Week 2010In line with Banned Books Week 2010, I thought it might be good to think more about the spirit of the event. After all, Banned Books Week is a celebration of our freedom to read and our right to retain access to any and all books we may so desire.

And thus it's certainly relevant to look for alternative sources when your local library gives in to the whims of conservative minds. Or perhaps you simply don't have access to the title due to location, geography or whatever physical limitation that may get in the way of things. Books don't just get around on their own after all - in that regard we're still dependent on the financially-motivated decisions of book distributors, store owners and other such constraints on the system.

A good example us our own local book market, which is severely limited by what books seem to be most popular, the limited budget of our government-sponsored libraries and other such petty items. Copyright law gets horribly complex as you get around the world. Still, digitized books are certainly a novel way of getting around such constraints and we should certainly look at supporting these ventures.

I myself am still getting started on understanding this area of book acquisition but I have to admit it presents some interesting possibilities. Ordering online isn't enough since shipping will kill you in the long term. Perhaps it's only through digital version that books will be truly free.

So here are a few options to explore in the interest of liberating books from their constraints.

Amazon Kindle e-book reader being held by my g...Image via WikipediaGoogle Books - While initially this was designed as an interesting way to search for books of interest, Google Books has expanded beyond that given the company's global efforts to digitize entire collections in major libraries around the world. This has opened the doors for a lot of out-of-print books to find new life in digital distribution, provided you have the appropriate reader applications of what have you. Plus the site still serves its original purpose of helping you connect to the appropriate online sellers who can provide actual hard copy versions of the book in question.

Project Gutenberg - The oldest digital library in the world, Project Gutenberg has relied on volunteer efforts to digitize books already in the public domain since 1971. The site is a great resource for multiple books in varying formats beyond just plain text. Given how many banned and challenged books are already part of the public domain, this is a great place to start indeed.

eBook Readers - In your efforts to get more into digital books, then it helps to have a way to access and read your acquired titles. Whether you stick to applications that enable you to read them on your computer like Mobipocket or Stanza or you venture into gadgets like the Amazon's Kindle, the Barnes and Noble Nook or the Sony Reader, all are viable options. This means spending a pretty penny on acquiring titles in this manner, but in many cases such digital versions of more recent releases are actually cheaper than their hard copy counterparts.

The World Wide Web - Run a simple internet search for "free ebooks" and you're bound to find a wide variety of online locations such as, Get Free eBooks or even Scribd to name a few. These all provide access to many different ebooks and other electronic titles, typically requiring registration with the site or in some cases nominal fees. Be sure to do your research on the legitimacy of a site before you venture into it fully to make sure you're happy with the site and that they have the books you are looking for.

I don't want to get into the murky waters of DRM and whether or not that should still apply. For now let's just be happy for the fact that these alternative methods for getting books out to the people who want to read them exist and all further support our rights to true freedom of information.

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  1. I plan to get the nook this Christmas. :)

  2. Envy! I wish it was easier to purchase eReaders here, but then that's the curse of being outside of the US.