British Library offer 65,000 ebooks for free
The British Library has announced that users of Amazon's Kindle e-reader will be able to download more than 65,000 19th century classics for free this coming spring in a special format that will have the look of a genuine first edition. Works from famous authors like Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy and Jane Austen will be reproduced using the original typeface and illustrations to add an antique feel to the e-reader technology.
According to Dame Lynne Brindley, Chief Executive of the British Library: "Making 19th century fiction available for free through the Kindle e-book reader opens up a new global readership for forgotten literary gems. Kindle users will be able to download, free of charge, 25 million pages of digitized books, from noteworthy editions of well known authors like Dickens, Conan Doyle and Thomas Hardy to rare early 19th century fiction and even the UK’s best collection of ‘penny dreadfulls’."
The British Library has worked with Microsoft over the past three years to digitally record text and images from the out-of-copyright works. Microsoft also helped develop the "Turning the Pages" software that allows users to interact with otherwise off-limits, rare books and manuscripts from the likes of Handel, Leonardo da Vinci, Lewis Carroll and Mozart. As well as seeing a visual representation of a turning page, users can zoom right up close to a page, change orientation and much more.
The news represents the latest step of an ongoing digitization project which recently made available more than two million pages from 19th century British newspapers and aims to capture 50 million items by 2020. Work will now begin on the scanning of out-of-copyright books from the early 20th century.
Printed copies sporting the same 19th century "first edition" look and feel of the original classics will also be available from Amazon's store. Prices start at £15 (US$23), which represents quite a saving on originals by Dickens and Austen which can cost at least £250 (US$392).
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Works fine on a netbook or laptop, too.
windykites1 - the Kindle is indeed currently grayscale only, the image showing the classic Dickens novel is just for display purposes.
A few examples of the kind of books by other authors that are on offer are as follows:
A Strange Story, by Edward Lytton (1862) An epic work of fantasy and romance, this supernatural story is filled with the captivating gothic style of one of the most popular of all Victorian novelists, now largely neglected.
The Story of a Modern Woman, by Ella Hepworth Dixon (1894) Packed with moving scenes and vibrant characters, this work is fine example of the \'New Woman\' genre of late Victorian England and has been described by John Sutherland as \'the greatest unread novel of female struggle\'.
Black Bess, by Edward Viles (1866-8) One of the best known Penny Dreadfuls, this series ran to over 254 editions and a total of 2028 pages, romanticising the tales of the infamous highwayman Dick Turpin. With so many instalments this was one of the longest running Penny Dreadfuls.
The Blue Dwarf, by Lady Esther Hope, pseudo. (1860) A rival series to Edward Viles\' \'Black Bess\', this series depicts Turpin as the faithful tool of the Blue Dwarf, a deformed heir to ancient estates who had been denied his inheritance, and their escapades with Scottish clansmen, Irish banditti and even Red Indians.