Monday, September 29, 2008

Books Online

Better accesibility to e-books is good news for the print disabled - most people with vision impairments read in this format rather than braille. It's also good news for the leisure reader - I had a friend whose husband was a long distance truck driver and he loved listening to audiobooks while he was driving. The range of titles is so much better now than the Catherine Cookson- style Victorian romances and westerns that dominated the old audiobook on tape and CD format.

For the serious researcher though, the preferred digital format is full text online rather than audio. Why? If you live in this part of the world and your research area isn't NZ-related (or even if it is), you need access to out-of-print and often very fragile old texts that in the past you would have had track down and use in a rare book archive in some overseas uni or national library archive. Project Guttenberg started it all off, and the NZ equivalent is the NZ Electronic Book Center. Having this material online makes access so much easier and cheaper, and (a plus for the library that owns it) it protects the old book from rough handling. Here's one I tracked down via Google Books and used while researching my PhD at Auckland Uni. It isn't available in hard copy in NZ.

People interested in full text online versions of out-of-copyright New Zealand books should try the NZECTC site - it's a goldmine for those interested in NZ literature and history.

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