Google books is simply an amazing online library resource. Since Google began to scan and digitize the books that sit in the world’s great libraries (at Harvard, Yale, and the University of Virginia, for example), authors, book sellers, and book publishers have been up in arms. Until the legalities are resolved, we can take advantage of the convenience of finding books that are often not in the public domain from the comfort of our homes. Unless they are entirely free of copyright infringement, most of the books that you can access through Google book search are partially complete. One can still glean an enormous amount of information in those partial books, however. Obscure authors of out-of-print books seem to be less incensed by this practice than their publishing houses, since their words are once again seeing the light of day and being READ. (Click on the links below to read more details about the controversy.)
One of my favorite finds is the Illustrated Jane Austen, a compilation of Jane’s six great books and two additional minor works. I have been reading Emma and Sense and Sensibility in anticipation of the last two airings of The Complete Jane Austen on PBS. You can imagine how delighted I was to view the illustrations by Hugh Thomson in this digitized book.
- Click here to read Google’s rationalization for scanning the world’s books
- This overview of the controversy was published by Business Week in 2005
- And here is an assessment of the situation from Law.com
- Click here to read my other post about Hugh Thomson
- Jane Austen: E-texts at Austen.com are beautifully presented and easy to read.