Category Archives: Open Library

Popular subjects in our book collection

We took a leisurely stroll through half a million books today, and we noticed that lots of the books were congregating around some popular categories.  This isn’t an exhaustive list, we just thought it would nice to share a little of the landscape with you.  Click through to download or borrow these books through our Open Library site.

Why Publishers Support E-book Lending with OpenLibrary.org: A Q&A with Smashwords Mark Coker

Photo of Mark Coker

Mark Coker Founder, CEO Smashwords

This Q&A kicks off a series of conversations with visionary publishers who support e-book digital library lending with OpenLibrary.org.

Mark Coker, Founder, CEO and Chief Author Advocate, founded Smashwords  to change the way books are published, marketed and sold.  In just three years it has become the leading ebook publishing and distribution platform for independent authors and small publishers.  The Wall Street Journal named Mark Coker one of the “Eight Stars of Self-Publishing” in 2010. He is a contributing columnist for the Huffington Post, where he writes about ebooks and the future of publishing. For Smashwords updates, follow Mark on Twitter at @markcoker.

Q. What is the relationship between publishers and Open Library?

A: “There is an intersection of common interest with publishers and Open Library – the passionate desire to get books to readers. The innovators at Open Library understand that the way people access books is an ongoing evolution and they are at the forefront of finding solutions to support all the key stakeholders – publishers and distributors, authors and most of all, readers.

Q: How do Libraries help to support book distribution?

old man reading computer

“Its simple – the more readers have a chance to engage with a book, the more likely they are to recommend it, or purchase it.”


A: Open Library purchases your books and shares them with readers by creating a web page for each book, with a cover photo and descriptive information. There are prompts to read, borrow and buy. Open Library has more than 4,600,000 unique visitors a month.

Q: What makes Smashwords different from other publishing organizations?

A: Smashwords represents 19,000 indie authors and small presses who handle the writing, editing and pricing of their books. We distribute these titles to major retailers such as Apple, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo and Diesel. We believe that authors should maintain the creative and financial control of their work and receive the lion share of income. Our authors keep upwards of 85% of the profits on the books we distribute.

Q. Why are some publishers and authors excited about e-books accessed via public libraries?

“If you build it, they will come.”

A: Our authors and publishers rely on Smashwords to open up new opportunities to reach readers. We’re working with most of the biggest indie authors, and many of them are excited about libraries. Open Library and its partners believe, “if you build it, they will come and I agree.  As demand for ebooks through a digital public library systems increase, publishers will better understand the value of partnering with Open Library. We hope they utilize Smashwords to reach these new distribution venues.

Buying E-Books from Smashwords

Young Adult e-Books by Amanda Hocking available on OpenLibrary.org

Smashwords’ best-selling authors contribute to OpenLibrary.org

Smashwords, the largest distributor of independently published literature, recently provided the Internet Archive and OpenLibrary.org with its first installment of e-Books from best known, best-selling e-Book authors including: Young Adult sensation Amanda Hocking; Fantasy author, Brian Pratt; Romance novelist Ruth Ann Nordin; and Business Expert, Gerald Weinberg.

Mark Coker, CEO of Smashwords believes that libraries are crucial to every publisher’s survival because they provide the face to face connection between readers, authors and books.

“We see tremendous value in partnering with the Internet Archive. Their visionary leadership is helping to create a worldwide digital public library.”
Mark Coker, CEO, Smashwords

The deposit by Smashwords was a first attempt at demonstrating the feasibility of making modern books more globally accessible through OpenLibrary.org. Next up – the creation of a new model that supports the on-going purchase of e-Books by participating libraries.

“The publishing world is rapidly changing,” asserts Coker, “There’s plenty of room for numerous distribution models and in my opinion, publishers should be bending over backwards to support these initiatives.”

Open Library Buying e-Books from Publishers

The Internet Archive is on campaign to buy e-Books from publishers and authors; making more digital books available to readers who prefer using laptops, reading devices or library computers.  Publishers such as Smashwords, Cursor and A Book Apart have already contributed e-Books to OpenLibrary.org – offering niche titles and the works of best-selling “indy” authors including Amanda Hocking and J.A. Konrath.

“Libraries are our allies in creating the best range of discovery mechanisms for writers and readers—enabling open and browser-based lending through the OpenLibrary.org means more books for more readers, and we’re thrilled to do our part in achieving that.” – Richard Nash, founder of Cursor.

American libraries spend $3-4 billion a year on publisher’s materials.  OpenLibrary.org and its more than 150 partnering libraries around the US and the world are  leading the charge to increase their combined digital book catalog of 80,000+ (mostly 20th century) and 2 million+ older titles.

“As demand for e-Books increases, libraries are looking to purchase more titles to provide better access for their readers.” – Digital Librarian Brewster Kahle, Founder of the Internet Archive.

This new twist on the traditional lending model promises to increase e-book use and revenue for publishers. OpenLibrary.org offers an e-Book lending library and digitized copies of classics and older books as well as books in audio and DAISY formats for those qualified readers.

All Icelandic literature to go online?

Þorsteinn Hallgrímsson, formerly of the National Library of Iceland, had a big idea:  digitize all Icelandic literature all the way to the current day and make it available to everyone interested in reading it. The Internet Archive was eager to be a part of this bold vision. I am in Iceland now, and because the financial crisis and Icelandic reaction to the US Department of Justice’s subpoenaing the tweets and Facebook account of a sitting member of the Icelandic Parliament, this project may have the momentum it needs to happen.

Ingibjörg Steinunn Sverrisdóttir, the National Librarian, and Katrín Jakobsdóttir, the Minister of Culture, met to discuss this possibility this week. I have met with several other ministers and parliamentarians in the last few days to discuss how this could be done.

The total literature of Iceland is under 50,000 books, which is easily scannable in 2 years by 12 people using the scribe scanners of the Internet Archive. David Lesperance, a lawyer from Canada who has helped support the Room to Read project, has offered to fundraise for this project; the Internet Archive has offered scanning technology, training, and backend software; and the Library has offered to administer the project. A digital lending system could be a way that they decide to limit access to a book to one person at a time in order to balance the interests of the writers and publishers while still having some access to everything from anywhere forever for free. Egill Helgason, of the Icelandic TV network, interviewed Brewster about this (photo below, video on the Archive).

If they decide to go ahead, Iceland could be the first country to have its complete literature go online. Fingers crossed.

The next step beyond this that is interesting to many here is to have Iceland become a “Switzerland of Bits,” where the laws will help protect the historical record from foreign or corporate danger. This is being promoted by Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a member of parliament. The Internet Archive works with many libraries around the world, and everyone wants to make sure that the digital copies are safe for the long term. Iceland is taking steps to be a good place for this.

As an aside, with all their inexpensive “green” electricity from their hydro electric and geothermal plants, I found it interesting that they are growing some vegetables under lights in the long winters as a way to become more self sufficient. With LED lights that can be tuned to produce specific wavelengths at different parts of the growth cycle, this approach could be a fairly energy efficient way to grow food for their people.

-Brewster Kahle

New BookReader!

By mang

We’re pleased to announce the release of our freshly re-designed BookReader on the Internet Archive.

The updated BookReader has these great new features (links will take you to a live example):

  • Redesigned user interface that maximizes the amount of space given to the book. Click the down arrow on the navigation bar to hide the user interface. (The Origin of Species)
  • Navigation bar that helps show your location in the book and navigate through it. Search results and chapter markers (if available) show up on the navigation bar.
  • New Read Aloud feature reads the book as audio in most browsers.  No special software is needed – just click the speaker icon  and go!
  • Tables of contents are being automatically generated for most books and can be edited or added manually through the Open Library site.  The chapter markers appear in the new navigation bar. (Launching Out Into The Deep in Wake of the War Canoe)
  • Vastly improved full-text search.  Search results are shown on the navigation bar and include a snippet of text near the matched search term. (Search results for “hawk” in book of birds)
  • More sharing options – the new Share dialog gives you to option to choose how to link to the book and set options when embedding the BookReader on a blog or website.  As always, you can just copy and paste the address in your browser address bar to get a shareable link to the current page. (Page 65 of Aviation in Canada, 1-page mode)
  • Touch gesture support – swipe to flip pages in two-page mode, pinch to zoom on iOS.
  • Improved support for tablet devices like the iPad.
  • Updated UI for the embedded BookReader – now includes “expando” button to view the book in a new browser window.
  • Integration with Open Library – books that have an Open Library record can have their title and table of contents edited through the Open Library site. The chapter headings on Open Library link directly into the BookReader. (Flatland table of contents on Open Library)

Here’s an embedded book for you to play with.  For any of our publicly accessible books you can embed it on your blog too by getting the embed code from the Share dialog!

Incredible thanks to our fantastic team for making it happen:

  • Raj Kumar – Read Aloud
  • Mike McCabe – table of contents
  • Peter Brantley – BookServer wrangler
  • Edward Betts – full-text search
  • George Oates – new user interface
  • Lance Arthur – markup and CSS
  • Alexis Rossi – QA
  • Jeff Kaplan – QA
  • Michael Ang (yours truly) – Putting It All Together(tm)
  • All of the Archive staff and contributors that make putting the books online possible!

As always, the BookReader remains open source and you can look at our developer documentation for information on reusing it on other sites. We’d like to thank user yankl on github for contributing a patch related to using the BookReader with right-to-left languages.

Over 1 Million Digital Books Now Available Free to the Print-Disabled

Associated Press Story The books on our Open Library site.

Press release:

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More than doubling the number of books available to print disabled people of all ages, today the Internet Archive launched a new service that brings free access to more than 1 million books — from classic 19th century fiction and current novels to technical guides and research materials — now available in the specially designed format to support those who are blind, dyslexic or are otherwise visually impaired.

“Every person deserves the opportunity to enhance their lives through access to the books that teach, entertain and inspire,” said Brewster Kahle, founder and Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive. “Bringing access to huge libraries of books to the blind and print disabled is truly one of benefits of the digital revolution.”

Kahle also announced that the Internet Archive will be investing in the growth of its virtual bookshelf by funding the digitization of the first 10,000 books donated. Individuals and organizations are welcome to donate their favorite book or a collection of books. Books in all languages welcome. To donate books visit: http://openlibrary.org/bookdrive

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “Blind people must have access to repositories of digital information if we are to reach our goal of becoming full and equal participants in society. Access to the books that have been scanned by the Internet Archive in a format accessible to the blind will be another step toward that goal. We are excited about continuing to work with Internet Archive to make access to more books a reality.”

The 1 million+ books in the Internet Archive’s library for print disabled, are scanned from hard copy books then digitized into DAISY — a specialized format used by blind or other persons with disabilities, for easy navigation. Files are downloaded to devices that translate the text and read the books aloud for the user to enjoy. To access books visit: http://openlibrary.org/subjects/accessible_book

Jessie Lorenz is a 31 year old woman who was born blind and is the Associate Director of at the Independent Living Resource Center in San Francisco. She believes, “Knowledge is power – and like everyone else, blind and print disabled people need equitable access to books to help them be innovative, productive, contributing community members.”

Older books are available from the Internet Archive’s unencrypted DAISY library and modern books can be accessed by “qualified users” through their NLS key — an encrypted code provided by the Library of Congress’ National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS), that is dedicated to providing materials to the print disabled. Currently, over 800,000 people in the US are registered with the Library of Congress as being print disabled.

As of today, the Internet Archive offers over one million books for print disabled people. Other large libraries for the print disabled including NLS, Bookshare.org, and Reading for the Blind & Dyslexic.

“This demonstrates why having open and public access to published works is so important,” said Kahle.

Ben Foss, President of Headstrong, an advocacy group for people with dyslexia said, “As dyslexic and print-disabled students scramble to complete their end-of-year research papers and projects, beginning today, there is a great new library of resources that will expand the tools these young people need to be successful in school and in life.”

By leveraging automated scanning and conversion processes, Internet Archive technicians can conduct a cost-efficient scan of more than one thousand books per day. Books are scanned at sites located in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and other major cities in five countries. Most of the older scanned books have been reformatted for the print-disabled from broad digitizing projects. Scanned physical books came from the collections of over 150 libraries, most of which are in the Open Content Alliance, but others as well. The funding of those scanning projects is coming from foundations, corporations and governments.

Most of the older books have been scanned from library collections, with newer books having been donated to the Internet Archive by companies such as the online bookseller Alibris, libraries and individuals.

The print disabled collection of books are now available through the Archive’s new Open Library site (www.openlibrary.org), which serves as a gateway to information about millions of hardcopy books and more than 1 million electronic books.

The Internet Archive will continually increase the number books it makes available. They are currently seeking donations of books and ebooks from individuals, libraries and publishers. The Archive is announcing today its commitment to fund the scanning and automatic processing of the first 10,000 donated books. Any organization or individual that would like to make particular books or collections available are encouraged to donate them by sending them to the Internet Archive. For donations of large collections please contact the Internet Archive. Financial support is also welcome to expand the program.

To access all books, a United States resident with print disabilities must register with the Library of Congress http://www.loc.gov/nls/signup.html .

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The Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that was founded to build an Internet library. Its missions are to offer universal access to all knowledge and provide specialized services for adaptive reading and information access for the blind and other persons with disabilities. Internet Archive, 300 Funston Avenue, San Francisco California 94118, info@archive.org, www.archive.org, www.openlibrary.org, +1-415-561-6767.

Press contact: Pattie Haubner phaubner@douglasgould.com
(914) 833-7093, (914) 275-2984

MP3 clip of a talking book, and Jessie Lorenz with a talking book device. Photo 1 and 2 of Jessie working with archive staff on user interface.

USATODAY article: Millions of books get digitized for the disabled

Internet Archive Online BookReader Usage

At our recent Books in Browsers 2010 event Brewster Kahle and Michael Ang gave a great presentation on the future of the BookReader.

Michael just showed us some stats that are being gathered on BookReader usage. We’re excited to have this first in-depth look at how books are being read in the BookReader.  We hope to see use of our books grow as we continue to improve the BookReader and make it easier to read and share our books online.

The stats count the number of times the BookReader was opened by a web browser (this should exclude most bots).  So far we’ve collected stats for most of October.

Here are some stats:
* Books were opened/read more than 1,500,000 times in October.
* We had approximately 19,000-25,000 unique readers per day.
* 225,000 different books were accessed in the month – a surprisingly wide range of our material is being accessed.
* The average number of books accessed per person each day was 2.5.
* The top book was the New Testament (http://www.archive.org/stream/newtestamentfor01alfogoog) with 2,394 reads.
* The top book accounted for only 0.16% of the total reads, and the top ten together were 0.87% – we have mostly “long tail” access.
* 83% of our users are on Windows – only 54% of those are using Internet Explorer.
* 34% of our users use Firefox.

Bottom line is, there are lot of books being read and they are of a wide variety. We hope to see use of our books grow as we continue to improve the BookReader and make it easier to read and share our books online.

Spread the word! Thanks to all the users of Internet Archive.

-Jeff Kaplan

Digital Lending Library

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Checking out digital versions of books that are automatically returned after two weeks is as easy as logging onto the Internet Archive’s Open Library site, announced digital librarian and Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle. By integrating this new service, more than seventy thousand current books – best sellers and popular titles – are borrowable by patrons of libraries that subscribe to Overdrive.com’s Digital Library Reserve. Additionally, many other books that are not commercially available but are still of interest to library patrons, are available to be borrowed from participating libraries using the same digital technology.

According to Kahle, “Digital technologies promise increased access to both old and new books. The Internet Archive, through its OpenLibrary.org site, is thrilled to be adding the capacity to lend newer books over the internet, in addition to continuing to provide the public with all access, free downloadable older materials.” He added, “We expect the number of books in the digital lending library to grow annually.”

Article on this in the Wall Street Journal, and WSJ video.

Currently, OpenLibrary.org is making available:

 

  • More than one million digital versions of older books are now available for free download in a variety of formats.
  • Over 70,000 current digital books to those with a library card from many of the over 11,000 libraries that subscribe to the OverDrive service.
  • Genealogical books from the Boston Public Library.
  • How-to and technical book collection via the Internet Archive.
  • Marine life reference materials from the Marine Biological Laboratory and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
  • Spanish texts from Universidad Francisco Marroquín in Guatemala.

All downloading and borrowing of these books is free to the public.

“This digital library has literally rocked our boat!”
Cathy Norton
Director
Library for the Marine Biological Laboratory and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

“As the first American library to lend books, we believe it is only fitting that we extend and upgrade this basic, yet crucial service in the digital age,” said Tom Blake, Digital Projects Manager Boston Public Library. “We hold the third largest research collection in the country, much of which is available at our buildings only during business hours. Digital lending allows us to circulate these rare, precious, and unique holdings into our local neighborhoods and beyond – anytime, anywhere, free to all.”

“This digital library has literally rocked our boat!” said Cathy Norton, Director of the Library for the Marine Biological Laboratory and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. “The discovery process is the backbone of science. For close to 125 years, the MBLWHOI Library has served its scientists while they were in Woods Hole. Today however, our scientists do research around the globe, literally traveling the Seven Seas – Asia, the Arctic, the Antarctic, Europe, South America, and the Amazon – to do their work on site.” Until their collaboration with the Internet Archive, it was nearly impossible to get scientists urgently needed information from the books and journals in the library at Woods Hole. “Our collaboration with libraries and the Internet Archive has helped us to scan, save, preserve and share these unique resources with affiliated scientists — no matter where they are working,” Norton said. “The MBLWHOI’s unique holdings in marine science and oceanography along with research tools in informatics, and books and journals can now also be shared with students and the public on their laptops, phones or any device that will display text and pictures.”

“The digital lending library project gives people a chance to leapfrog traditional barriers to knowledge,” said Giancarlo Ibárgüen S., President of Universidad Francisco Marroquín. “UFM is fully on board,” he added, “We consider this project a powerful tool in promoting societies based on principles of individual liberty and responsibility.”

Jeffrey R. Krull, Director of the Allen County Public Library, which houses the largest genealogical collection of any public library in the country, said, “We see great potential benefit in this lending model for genealogical researchers. Digital lending can make vast amounts of critical data available to genealogists of all ages and circumstances, all over the world. Such access to library collections would be truly transformational.”

How the lending part works:

With either a Windows or a Macintosh computer, a user can visit OpenLibrary.org to search or browse for books with the “only ebook” check box checked to find books they can borrow and read online. If a desired book is a commercially available book, then the user is directed to a page on overdrive.com where they can borrow it from their local library using their library card. If the book can be provided without restriction, then it is offered in a variety of formats for laptops and mobile devices. If the book is not commercially available and no one else has checked out the book, then the user can borrow it for a 2 week period.

Borrowed books can be read in the free Adobe Digital Editions application, which manages the library of books that have been borrowed, or in portable reading devices that support Adobe Content Server 4. All books will be returned after two weeks.

For more information and access to the Internet Archive’s Digital Lending Library visit: archive.org or openlibrary.org.

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