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The Universal Library: Books and Stories Online

PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2005 1:52 am
by Adam Balm
A bit of interesting news:

HarperCollins Publishers has announced it would create its own digital library of all of its book and audio content and make it searchable by consumers on the Internet. The move will allow the company to maintain control its digital content rather than have scanned material on other computers.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/13/books/13harp.html
(registration required to view.)

This is interesting, because you'll recall that Google has decided to get in on building its own little virtual Library of Alexandria.

George Dyson has written an article at Edge on this very subject, that I suggest everyone read. There's been alot of talk here at the Zone on the future of film, well, here's the future of books..

THE UNIVERSAL LIBRARY [11.30.05]
by George Dyson


Why does this strike such a nerve? Because so many of us (not only authors) love books. In their combination of mortal, physical embodiment with immortal, disembodied knowledge, books are the mirror of ourselves. Books are not mere physical objects. They have a life of their own. Wholesale scanning, we fear, will strip our books of their souls. Works that were sewn together by hand, one chapter at a time, should not be unbound page by page and distributed click by click. Talk about "snippets" makes authors flinch.


READ ON...

PostPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2005 5:03 am
by Pops Freshenmeyer
more access to more information is only a good thing. Let them worry about how to profit from it later.

PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 9:43 am
by tapehead
The Zone book of the month for November, 253 which started out and still exists complete and free online.

I also noticed on boingboing that the MIT Technology review have published a new short story by Bruce Sterling, the Interoperation - pretty interesting Science Fiction concerned with the future of architecture.

I'm sure there's heaps more, so come on in here and show me up and post them up, I want something to read for when I'm bored and cheap-ass! (other than the Zone, of course.

edit: and while this thread might likely sink without a trace, I might just add the known remnants of The Books of Bokonon, for those who have the faith.

PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 10:02 am
by Dee E. Goppstober
The Books of Bokonon!!! KICK-ASS!!!


I converted to Bokononism not too long ago.

PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 10:15 am
by Fried Gold
You may already know of it - Project Gutenberg is a free digital collection of over 22,000 public domain books.

There are a lot of "classics" in there, but also 20th century works too.

PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 10:22 am
by tapehead
It's really cool, I was hoping for more current stuff as well.

PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 10:22 am
by Pacino86845
This is a terrific thread idea, and though it may not be the sort of thing to attract a flurry of posts it will make a great reference for everyone. I'm going to make this thread extra sticky.

Re: Books and Stories Online

PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 10:23 am
by junesquad
tapehead wrote:There are many books and stories free online, so I thought I'd make a thread where you can link them, or come looking for a little something to read. Two things today made me think it might be a good idea;

The Zone book, of the month for November,253, which started out and still exists complete and free online.

I also noticed on boingboing that the MIT Technology review have published a new short story by Bruce Sterling, the Interoperation - pretty interesting Science Fiction.

I'm sure there's heaps more, so come on in here and show me up and post them up, I want something to read for when I'm bored and cheap-ass! (other than the Zone, of course.


edit: and while this thread might likely sink without a trace, I might just add the known remnants of The Books of Bokonon, for those who have the faith.


Sweet idea. I know Google Books is a great source for finding partial to full texts online. I use it for school a lot.

PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 10:30 am
by Dee E. Goppstober
Someone pointed out to me the other day that a lot of 19th century books, like for instance those by Dickens, were originally published piece-meal, in newspapers.

Isn't that kind of thing going on somewhere online too?

PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 11:11 am
by magicmonkey
This site has a lot of cool reading material.

PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 11:49 am
by Maui
Fried Gold wrote:You may already know of it - Project Gutenberg is a free digital collection of over 22,000 public domain books.

There are a lot of "classics" in there, but also 20th century works too.


Wow, just searched Jane Austen - great results.

I may have to get anti glare put into my lens prescription.

PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 11:54 am
by stereosforgeeks
Lot's of random JD Salinger stuff here.

PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 12:16 pm
by The Todd
Lots of classics here: The Literature Network.

Shakespeare, Twain, Thackeray, Verne, Wilde, Poe, London, Lawrence, Homer, Frost, Fitzgerald, Forster, Dostoevsky, Browning, the Brontes, Balzac, etc.

PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 12:20 pm
by Fievel
Comfort To The Enemy - Elmore Leonard.

It takes place between his books "The Hot Kid" and his latest, "Up In Honey's Room".

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 11:54 pm
by thomasgaffney
I deleted all the posts that 'jacked tapehead's thread.

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 11:58 pm
by buster00
Yeah, get in here and moderate awready, book boy.

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 11:59 pm
by thomasgaffney
buster00 wrote:Yeah, get in here and moderate awready, book boy.


Hahahahahaha. I'm still looking around. And trying to recover from that horror that was apparently Moo trying to mod the October Book of the Month poll.

PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 12:00 am
by tapehead
What, you're the book mod? I don't remember that at all...

PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 12:01 am
by Jahbulon
Much as I love Project Gutenburg, here's the modern equivalent: You're only allowed to download five books every two weeks, so make your picks count.

PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 12:02 am
by thomasgaffney
tapehead wrote:What, you're the book mod? I don't remember that at all...


I am now. SO GET READING!!!!!

PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 12:02 am
by tapehead
That is fucking cool seems to be a lot of good sci fi there too - nice one Sepp.

PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 12:07 am
by Jahbulon
No problem, tapey. Note, if you know how to change your ip, you can download as many of those suckers as you like!

Hopefully it'll make the Book of the Month thread easier with everybody being able to access the book gratis.

PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 12:08 am
by tapehead
I do and I will.

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 9:49 am
by thomasgaffney
Publisher experiments with free online books

Two competing visions of the future went head-to-head online yesterday as HarperCollins and Random House launched contrasting new experiments in book distribution on the same day.

Building on a scheme launched in 2006 which allows users to flick through extracts of the books they publish, HarperCollins is releasing complete texts from a small selection of authors for periods of a month to test how free access affects sales.

The chief executive of HarperCollins Worldwide, Jane Friedman, was keen to stress the flexibility of the publisher's systems.

"The advantage of our digital warehouse is that we can securely, quickly and easily change what content is available," she said, "whether it is to meet an author's request, to preview a title before it is on sale, or to promote backlist books. And we believe it's the role of the publisher to develop tools to easily allow authors to promote their work to their communities online."

With Neil Gaiman and Paolo Coelho lined up to be among the first clutch of six titles, it seems as if the publisher is only beginning to catch up with their authors' enthusiasm for free distribution. Coelho, who has promoted free copies of his own work online since 2000, has signed up for HarperCollins to provide an entire book for download every month for one year.

"I believe that online reading helps increase book sales," the author said. "I am very pleased that HarperCollins is able to make my titles available online for my fans to read."

Neil Gaiman, who offers readers free stories on his website and has been running a promotional blog for seven years, is convinced that tasters are "enormously useful". He's running an online vote for readers to determine which of his titles will be given away - a poll currently led by his mythical American fantasy, American Gods.

Whatever the result of the poll, the author is not expecting a straightforward match between the numbers of free downloads and added sales.

"It's much more about gaining an audience than about some one-to-one correlation," he said. "It's a question of how do you find new writers." People often come to new authors in a library, on a friend's bookshelves, or by a personal recommendation, he explained. It "doesn't always begin with a financial transaction. I very much doubt that I discovered a single one of my favourite authors by buying a book."

Meanwhile Random House is pursuing a different model, launching a pilot project to offer individual slices of books for a small fee. Six chapters and an epilogue of a business title by brothers Chip and Dan Heath are available at $2.99 (£1.50) each.

Users will receive a link for downloading the chapters of their choice via email, which the company claims is impossible to share electronically.

"This is a pilot project to gauge whether there is a demand or not," said Random House's Carol Schneider. "We're really doing it as a kind of an experiment."

It's an experiment that runs counter to internet users' expectations of getting something for nothing and to Random House's enthusiastic promotion of free clips from their library of audio books. With no plans to extend the scheme into other non-fiction or short fiction titles, and no download figures yet available it's impossible to judge whether Random House's cautious strategy will prove effective, but Gaiman is convinced that publishers who are bold will be rewarded.

"The problem is not people who read books for nothing," he said, "it's people not reading books at all. You're fighting the fact that people don't read recreationally [any more]. Anything that can help has got to be a good thing."

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 12:26 pm
by Flumm
It's interesting that they say say "it's people are not reading books at all. You're fighting the fact people don't read recreationaly [any more]."

Can that really be true?

I suppose so, if that's the sentiments of the publishers.

I wonder how drastic the numbers are in the short-term, say since the evolution of Amazon, for example, compared to... before people could watch films and play video games in the home?

Is it a general refinement and specialization of people's time over the past several decades, or more recent, shallow dip in the sales figures?


Anyhows, I would hope we're just in the lull before the technology-storm catches up with us, and we get something that can serve the medium.

Those pliable, paper-like portable-type electronics have seemed just around the corner for ages now...