You may be thinking, “What gives? The Internet Archive (a.k.a. the
Wayback Machine) isn’t new. They’ve been around for YEARS! Some cool
toy, right. Cripes.” But wait! This really IS cool! Way cool!
The Internet Archive started with archiving old web sites, something
for which I have had innumerable opportunities to express profound
gratitude. But they didn’t stop there. No, they went and added texts,
and audio, and movies (oh, my!). Honest! And then, what did they do?
They added books. “Yeah, yeah, books, I know – like Google and
Gutenberg and everybody else. More books, that’s nice.” No, REALLY,
They added books from a lot of places: American Libraries, Canadian
Libraries, Universal Library, Open Source Books, Project Gutenberg,
Biodiversity Heritage Library, Children’s Library, and more. Now this
next bit is so new they haven’t even blogged it themselves, and still
in Beta, so no guarantees, BUT, take a close look at this pic. Over in
the upper left corner.
See the picture of the book? Yes, that is really the Isaac Asimov
Foundation Trilogy, one of the greatest masterpieces of science
fiction in the last half century, but that is not the point. Under
that. You see “Read Online” and then what do you see?
B/W PDF. (Oh, but it gets better.)
I don’t know about you, but at this point, I am quivering with anticipation.
Maybe you don’t know what all of these are. Basically they are various
e-book or electronic document formats. Not all one size fits all,
though. Bottom up:
Document reader for your web browser, desktop, PDA, iPhone, iTouch
Ebook and document format from the IDPF especially designed to be
accessible, meaning it can be used by persons with visual impairment,
dyslexia, and other concerns. Basically, DAISY = Digital Accessible
Information SYstem, which means it can be used by ANYONE. I love this.
Proprietary ebook reader device from Amazon.com
See Wikipedia’s comparison of ebook formats:
So what I’m so excited about is that suddenly, hundreds and thousands
of books are available, prepacked, easy to use, without conversion,
for EVERYONE. This is amazing. Imagine all those special needs school
kids who can’t get the audio books from their schools to do their
homework (and don’t tell me how it is supposed to work, real life is
sometimes different). I immediately sent this off to all my friends
who work with folks with special needs, my friends who are dyslexic,
or blind, or just those who hate using their eyes to read books and
prefer to listen. You can’t always find audio books for things you
want to hear. The DAISY format books can be heard. I am utterly
thrilled with what the Internet Archive is trying to do here. I hope
and pray this works out and they can keep it going.