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Thursday, 9th December 2010

Free E-Books: The Open Library (from The Internet Archive) Launches a Much Improved Online E-Book Reader

The Open Library (an Internet Archive initiative) has just launched a new version of their online ebook reader (aka BookReader) featuring a new user interface and other tools. It's terrific.

BookReader allows users read/search more than two million digitized books (and other items) available from The Open Library and Internet Archive.

When searching the Internet Archive eBook and eText Collection, look for the link to read the item online in the left column. Users will also notice that books and other items can also be downloaded in a number of formats.

Using Open Library to search, find, and access books, either click the "read icon" on a search results page (online ebook reader will open) or click the cover thumbnail. Users will be taken to a page with several options (read online, download, send to Kindle, etc.).

Once BookReader is open, here are a few of the things you can do:

1. Clicking the "i" (top of reader) provides a list of formats you can download the item in; send to Kindle (very cool), link to provide feedback, and more.

2. Clicking the three circles icon (next to the "i") allows you to get the code to directly link to the book and/or embed (that's right, embed the book*) on a web page or blog.

The embedded BookReader now includes "expando" button to view the book in a new browser window.

3. Clicking the speaker icon, will provide text-to-speech allowing you to listen to the book. The Open Archive calls it "Read Aloud."

4. On the bottom of BookReader you'll find the navigation bar. Sliding the finger icon will take you directly to a specific page, facing pages, or multiple pages (depending on the view you select).

5. The remaining icons allow users select how pages are viewed (one page, facing pages, multiple pages); increase/decrease type size; and move back and forth throughout the book.

What's listed above is only the beginning. This blog post from the Open Library has information on more features the the ebook reader provides including:

+ Automatically Generated Tables of Contents for Most Books.
Look for the chapter markers appear in the new navigation bar

+ Improved Full-Text Search of Each Item
Wow! Search results are shown on the navigation bar and include a snippet of text near the matched search term. The search box is located on the top-right side of the reader.

+ Touch gesture support swipe to flip pages in two-page mode, pinch to zoom on iOS.

+ Improved support for tablet devices like the iPad.

Hopefully, support for iPhone and other mobile platforms are in the works.

As you've read, BookReader is full powered but it's also very easy to use (and learn).

Finally, BookReader and the more than 2 million items you can use it to access are free.

Its been a great year for the Open Library with its relaunch and the addition many new features. With this launch, the OL is ending the year on an excellent note. We can't wait to see what's in store in 2011.

Kudos to Brewster, Peter, George, Michael, and the rest of the IA/OL team.

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