Ian Coller

Flipping fantastic

In Online Libraries on March 27, 2010 at 6:58 am

Everyone probably knows Google have a massive online library which can be searched by text, with whole books available as download in pdf form. It is astonishing what is on there. But frankly, I think their reader is horrible. It is clunky and ugly, and a lot of the books have been so poorly digitized they are hardly legible. Enter another library, this time called the Internet Archive. It does not have the same resources as Google, but it offers a raft of different reading modes. The one I think is brilliant is called “Flip Book (beta)”. Here is a screen shot:

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The pages flip in a very rapid and funky way, it’s possible to search in the text and you get a bunch of little markers for your pages. It’s got everything except the inky-papery and sometimes a bit mildewy book fragrance (maybe that’s next!).  Verner W. Clapp, the author of this book on “Libraries of the Future” would have been gobsmacked.

Best of all, books are scanned in colour, unlike the dour and illegible GoogleBooks (love those latexed fingers that appear on so many pages!). Here’s my personal favourite!

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Nice, eh? I think Google would do well to emulate this benchmark.

But still, Internet Archive has its limitations: you can’t search the full text directly from the search page, and it just doesn’t work as well as Google. Instead, try doing a Google advanced search, limited to domain “archive.org” and then you can find whatever you want.

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