Free British Library App Brings Beautiful, Old Books to the iPad

Page through high-resolution scans of more than 1,000 19th-century English treasures in an app that's only a teaser for what's to come

orientalcarpets.png

The British Library released more than 1,000 rare books in the form of a single app for the iPad last week. The titles of the books are searchable, but the individual items are viewed as high-resolution scans. The works are drawn from the library's 19th-century collection and load individually from the network when you touch one to read it.

The Institution joins a host of other libraries that are getting into the app game. In recent months, the New York Public Library released Biblion, an app for exploring the institution's fascinating 1939 World Fair collection, and the Dallas Public Library, which has made its catalog available in app form.

While the British Library will continue to put out a free app, they plan to offer a paid subscription app with 60,000 books to generate revenue for more digitization. It could be an interesting hybrid model, depending on the books and features the enhanced app adds. The current version is wonderful because it's free and provides access to rare books, but the viewer is about as flat as an app gets. It is built for reading and reading only, and doesn't even support landscape viewing. One would think a paid product would have to have a few more bells, if not whistles.

Via Alice Bell.

Presented by

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Technology

Just In