With the arrival of a new set of books from Hathi Trust onto our extended shelves, I’m happy to report that The Online Books Page now lists over 1 million books and serials that are free to read on the World Wide Web.
Had I been counting volumes, like many other projects do, I could have officially crossed that threshold a while ago. But I’ve been trying to keep the total down by counting not volumes, but works. (Or more precisely, editions.) As I count them, a two-volume novel, a 22-volume encyclopedia, and a 100-volume journal run each count as one “book”.
This kind of count reflects my desire to build a catalog where people can easily find what they need. Almost no one looking for a three-decker Victorian novel will be satisfied with finding just Volume II, so I try to make sure all the volumes can be found together whenever possible. For similar reasons, I’ve also been working on helping people find suitable editions of widely published works, and supporting smarter subject browsing. It’s one thing to have access to a million books, as now can be found at my site and a number of others. It’s another, more useful thing to easily find the most useful book for your needs among those millions of titles.
Often what one reader will find most useful is a book that someone else has found useful as well. So I’m very grateful to the readers who have been submitting suggestions to the site, both for books to curate from the extended shelves, and for a variety of titles from smaller, more out-of-the way collections, or on personal or organizational websites.
We’ll be taking a short break over the holidays from listing new titles in significant number, but I look forward to resuming the new book listings in 2011. I’m also looking forward to offering new, improved ways of locating books in even larger collections as the year progresses.
Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it, and warm wishes for happiness and interesting reading in the new year!