This wonderful collection of 19th century books is one of my favourite apps. What’s not to love? The British Library is one of the world’s great libraries, and they’ve digitized thousands of books and made them available ‘online’ for free. At the touch of a button and the tap of a finger, a reader can have the book that they want to read up on the screen – in its entirety (no ‘selected pages only’ here) and as a facsimile (no bland, boring eBook pages that make every book look the same.)
Books that are scanned still show the features that make unique – the colour of the pages, the notes in the margins, the fine lines and colours of the illustrations. This makes an immense difference with older books, or personal copies of books (I know one academic who based her thesis on the marginalia in a Renaissance manuscript, and another who published his research because he had access to the original books from his subject’s library.) Have a look at some of the lovely titles in this British Library collection to see what I mean. There are several categories here: history, philosophy, travel writing, fiction, scientific writing. Many of these titles are unique: not available in reprints, not available on Amazon.
This is what libraries do best: give readers access to unique material in unique collections! 🙂