Online Books

June 16, 2020

The Internet Archive has pulled in its digital tentacles. Are there collections of online books that will not attract law suits from increasingly stressed “real” publishers?

The answer is, “Sort of.”

For a listing of “over three million free books on the Web”, point your Mother Hen browser at “The Online Books Page.” Some exploration is needed. The categories are not exactly easy to use, but what online index is these days.

The “Search Our Listings” lets a user search by author’s last name and title. The problem is, as many grade school students know, is that an author’s name can return many listings. To see what I mean, plug in “Plato”. There you go. A list of books that will dissuade some from locating the old guy who argued with Socrates (not the football playing medical doctor from Brazil).

You can also access a feature called “Exclude extended shelves.” Despite the name, the NOT function delivers the goods. Why make Boolean into something that makes little sense?

The new listings option delivers an earthworm result. Like to browse, this is your Disneyland. Want magazines? Just click “Serials.” This page leads to more pages listing magazines. Some of the journals in the link to the Electronic Journals Library are not free. Well, free is relative, I suppose.

The effort to gather the information is admirable. Polishing, editorial control, and consistent presentation may arrive in the future.

Worth checking into an author with whom one is familiar. Browsing can be interesting. Years ago I told a former client that no firm had a comprehensive index of electronic books. That company’s young and confident managers did not believe me. Flash forward to 2020, the problem still exists. There you go.

Stephen E Arnold, June 16, 2020


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