Online libraries revisited

It will take its sweet time to restock my bookshelves after getting rid of the worthless stuff. But should I really fill them again? What is the chance that my heirs will want to read “The Challenge of Enlightenment”, “Meditations on the Tarot” or “One Cosmos under God”? Chances are they go on the fire or a landfill eventually.

This entry first appeared in my LiveJournal.

I have to say this Questia thing is somewhat impressive. If they had offered an Android client rather than just iPhone, I would probably subscribe. While it seems to be geared mostly at students and young researchers, there seems to be a lot of good stuff in there.

Of course, what I really hope for is that Google gets permission to do something similar. Millions of books, for free, on every imaginable device. It just might spell the end of the bookstore as we knew it. As it is, I use Google Books along with Amazon.com to scope out books before acquiring them (or not, usually).

But so far, there does not seem to be a “killer app”. You’d think governments at least would want to give their citizens an online Great Library, so as to surge far ahead of all other countries in the world and launch the next Renaissance. But perhaps an enlightened public is the greatest fear of a politician. In any case, leaving it to the market is even better. Imagine the world under Swedish hegemony.

There is also the Baen Free Library, but that is somewhat limited (to a subset of Baen books, naturally) and rather non-academic in nature, to say the least.

Project Gutenberg seems to still be geared toward download rather than online reading. It is one of the oldest attempts at creating a Great Library online. Constrained by its volunteer-based approach.

There is also something called “The Free Library” which has somehow been hiding from me until now. It is ugly as all ugly,with an undocumented and self-defeating interface, but it may still be worth much more than you pay for it, considering that it is free.

Anyone have any others?

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