Google Books adds open-standard downloads

By Kristopher A. Nelson
in August 2009

300 words / 2 min.
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For anyone using any kind of electronic reader – including a regular computer – this addition to Google Books may well prove quite useful: EPUB as a download format.


Note: this post is from 2009. Evaluate with care and in light of later events.

For anyone using any kind of electronic reader — including a regular computer — this addition to Google Books may well prove quite useful:

I’m excited to announce that starting today, Google Books will offer free downloads of these and more than one million more public domain books in an additional format, EPUB. By adding support for EPUB downloads, we’re hoping to make these books more accessible by helping people around the world to find and read them in more places. More people are turning to new reading devices to access digital books, and many such phones, netbooks, and e-ink readers have smaller screens that don’t readily render image-based PDF versions of the books we’ve scanned. EPUB is a lightweight text-based digital book format that allows the text to automatically conform (or “reflow”) to these smaller screens. And because EPUB is a free, open standard supported by a growing ecosystem of digital reading devices, works you download from Google Books as EPUBs won’t be tied to or locked into a particular device.

via Inside Google Books: Download Over a Million Public Domain Books from Google Books in the Open EPUB Format.

This kind of access shows some of the potential of the public domain to allow for innovation and reuse. Thank Google — and Google advertisers, of course — for making it free. (They could legally sell public-domain works — there is no legal requirement that such access be free and open.)