Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Open Library

From SpacecowbOy and Ars Technica

Introducing The Open Library, a would-be archive of public domain books. What sets it apart from other online libraries is the interface, which tries to simulate the book experience by showing you scans of the book (there's even a turning-page effect), the ability to zoom in/out (soon), listen to the book being read out, and even the option to print the book via print on demand from

I have mixed feelings about the project. On one hand, the various features such as listening to the book and the print-on-demand service is great, maximizing the fact that it is an online medium. On the other hand, I don't like the scanned-pages interface. While more traditional readers might appreciate it more, I think they're going about it the wrong way--while the turning the pages animation is nice, it's still not the real experience of holding a book and leafing through the pages. So why bother with that when you're not making full use of the online/digital medium? I'd honestly rather have a .txt file that I can read over my mobile phone, eBook reader, or whatever gadget instead of restricting it to its fancier but less flexible format. Still, I can imagine people who'll praise The Open Library for the very feature that I'm condemning.

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