Sunday, February 7, 2010

The British Library and Amazon: forgotten literary gems for free on the Kindle

Amazon Kindle owners discussing in the forums how the Kindle is like "literary crack" for them will find a bit more to enjoy now that the The British Library’s new joint venture with Amazon will make more 19th century fiction available for free through the Kindle ebook reader.

Dame Lynne Brindley, writing for The Times (UK), describes it as opening up
' a new global readership for forgotten literary gems.  Kindle users will be able to download, free of charge, 25m pages of digitised 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 dreadfuls’.
  People who want their own copies can also have them despatched direct through Amazon’s print-on-demand service. Super Saver Delivery meets the gothic novel. '
Microsoft worked with the Library to digitize 65,000 out of copyright books and to develop enhanced online offerings of collected works.

Partnerships with higher educational organizations also made possible the digitizing of the Library's historic newspaper collections, already online.  Click on the link to see what that's like.  In describing the importance of the latest partnership, Dame Brindley writes:
' Looking back 10 years from now, the agreement with Amazon could represent a significant landmark on the journey that is now underway.  Freeing historic books from the shelves has the potential to revolutionise access to the world’s greatest library resources. '
A second story at The Times gives additional details.  The 65,000 newly scanned works are available for free download to the Kindle this spring and will be readable online by the public for free.
' Like the onscreen versions, the paperbacks, costing £15-£20, will look like the frequently rare 19th-century editions in the library’s collection — including their typeface and illustrations. Originals of works by Austen and Dickens typically cost at least £250.
. . .
  Altogether, 35%-40% of the library’s 19th-century printed books — now all digitised — are inaccessible in other public libraries and are difficult to find in second-hand or internet bookshops. '
UPDATE - The Next Web describes it this way:
' As for Amazon, not only will they enable users of their Kindle eReader to access historically accurate digital representations of thousands of famous books, but Amazon customers will also be able to order printed copies for between £15 and £20 including original typefaces and illustrations. '
UPDATE2 - Here's a follow-up article with more information on the books.

In the meantime, a weekend reminder:
  As ever, here is the ongoing set of links for various Searches for free or low-cost Kindle-compatible books.

  I've added a search there for non-classics or non-public-domain books which are under $9.99 and are sorted by bestsellers.  This search is for a time when Macmillan and others of the Big6 publishers (and Apple iBookstore as driving force) have pushed Amazon to the "Agency" model of prices from $13 to $15 for NY Times best sellers, which means they probably won't sell that many. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

Send to Kindle

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  1. Dear Andrys,

    This is Giovani, Sao Paulo, Brazi.

    I cannot get your blog in my Kindle, says Kindle Store.

    Can you change that, please?

    Kind regards, Giovani di Gesu

  2. Giovani,
    I guess it's that Amazon doesn't send blogs outside the U.S. because of high wireless costs?

    My apologies. You can try using Calibre or Kindlefeeder but I don't have URLs for instructions right now and must leave for awhile. Will try to get you the information later when I return tonight.

    Thank you.

  3. Hi Andrys,
    Another piece of fresh news from Portugal :-)
    Publico, a daily quality newspaper from Portugal started offering a Kindle edition yesterday on the Kindle store. This is great news for Portuguese living in Portugal or abroad (only 9,99 USD in the US - 13,99 in other countries). The "Publico" edition will be available for download each day, at 6,30 AM (Portuguese time = GMT). One more country represented in the list of newspapers with a Kindle edition.
    Kind Regards
    José Bernardes

  4. José
    That is great news! Thanks for the information. I imagine Amazon will make an announcement of it, or at least I hope so. Am making a note to mention it in one of the updates for people who don't see it here.

    Thanks again.

  5. It has been extremely helpful,The information provided by you is very good,
    is very excellent.i will back to read another article,Keep going Thank you.


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