Let�s talk about books, baby…or…summertime, and the reading is E-asy!

This week the BRAIN_blog celebrates summer with some tools and sites to get your summer groove on! If you�re like me, you just can�t wait to download a couple of e-books to your Palm, grab your shades and hit the beach. What? You�re not?? Oh I know, I know…much has been written about the lack of personality of e-book reading devices, how no one wants to curl up (or lie out in the sun) with their handheld computer…but I for one am just geek enough to say to those of you enslaved by paper tomes, �Hey, I�ll try anything once!� So watch this space � I�ll keep you posted on how I make out (or don�t!) with my �have Palm books will travel� project this summer � who knows, I may even convert a few others to the e-side!

1) Loadsa books? …it�s Manybooks!

Let�s first take a look at a great site that really lives up to its name, Manybooks.net. Manybooks is the place to go to download FREE ebooks for your Palm or other handheld ebook reading device. A large number of these books are available from that wonderful Project Gutenberg. Jenn blogged about this back in March �04 ( Frankenstein or Moll Flanders! Getting started is easy, as the Help page provides excellent detailed instructions on how to download the books to your reader. I also love that Manybooks encourages authors to contact them to have their book distributed on the site. There are criteria to follow of course (for example you must be willing to offer your book for free) but here once again we see the whole social interaction that sites like this can offer � very, very cool. Manybooks has hundreds and hundreds of books, with more being added all the time. How do I know this? Well, Manybooks offers an RSS feed, so you can keep up with what�s new and exciting in the world of downloadable books � very handy indeed!

2) For every ebook page, turn turn turn!

Okay, so maybe you�re not yet convinced that reading books on a handheld device is for you, but you might be willing to agree that ebooks have potential. Well, to get your virtual feet wet, take a look at some digitized books, thanks to state-of-the-art technology called Turning the Pages. It�s really one of the most exciting tools you�ll ever see (I hope you agree) and one that changes the way we view books on the web � or even view books at all. Developed at the British Library, Turning the Pages(TTP) is a fantastic application that allows users via their computer to actually touch and turn the pages of ancient, rare and fragile books, manuscripts and other documents. Other libraries and organizations have adopted the TTP technology and adapted it for their unique collections. The results are simply astounding. We�ll start with the British Library�s Online Gallery, Turning the Pages, as it is the original and the collection, as you can imagine, is staggering. Just the captions alone can cause even the most passive booklover to palpitate with excitement. Imagine � �Sketches by Leonardo� � see and turn the pages of Da Vinci�s personal notebook; �Glorious Hebrew Prayer Book� � The Golden Haggadah with its incredible illustrations; �The Oldest Printed �Book�� � the Diamond Sutra, an unbelievable scroll printed in 868 in China. Use the Audio feature to hear commentary on the selection you are viewing; grab the magnifying glass to zoom in on specific text or illustrations; click on �T� (text) to highlight text and learn more about the publication. This is truly a remarkable collection, not to be missed! Following in the footsteps of the British Library is the American Red Cross World War II Scrapbook. The website encourages readers to �Experience the activities of American Red Cross Recreation Workers overseas, during World War II, through the pages of this scrapbook. The story is told by images and memorabilia gathered from World War II era scrapbooks and personal papers in the Red Cross archival collection.� The scrapbook isn�t quite as sophisticated as the British Library�s � there are no audio or zoom features, but most of the text is legible, even on the handwritten documents and there is just so much interesting information, it�s definitely worth a visit. Finally, the National Library of Medicine in the United States has jumped into the Turning the Pages forum as well. Not an extensive collection as of yet, but no doubt they have big plans for this project. The NLM site offers zoom, audio and text selection, giving you the total Turning the Pages experience.

3) Listen up!

Another great way to get your �ebooks to go� is to download them not to �read� but to listen! Check out Audible.com, a site with a huge selection of books that can be downloaded to your iPod, mp3 player or to your computer to then be burned to CD. Audible.com also has radio programs, and audio magazines & newspapers available from the site, so there�s always lots to listen to! Get started by setting up an account at Audible.com, ensure you have the software you need for downloading and you�re set! Books and other items are purchased on a per item basis (yes, this is a paid service) or you can join AudibleListener for a monthly membership fee. For those of you looking for a bargain (and frankly, who isn�t??) Audible.com does have a small selection of free audio books (as of now, they all seem to be US Presidential inauguration speeches or 9/11 commission hearings � but I�m sure they�re working to expand!) and also some for under $10 (a much larger collection with a better variety of genres!) so you can definitely bargain hunt at Audible.com!

4) Let�s go back, let�s go back, let�s go on, go way back when…

A couple of final notes about ebooks � at the beginning of this entry I briefly mentioned Jenn�s post from last year where she looked at Project Gutenberg and all the great things that were being done with that. Also mentioned in the same entry were the Online Books Page from the University of Pennsylvania, the University of California Press eScholarship web site and the Baen Free Library. Do check out the post >here to revisit these fantastic resources! And lastly � remember faithful BRAIN_blog readers, the Library @ Mohawk also subscribes to a few great ebook databases for your reading pleasure � absolutely free! Be sure to take advantage of such fantastic resources as netLibrary and Safari Tech Books Online, accessible from �Databases� on The BRAIN.

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