British Library 19th Century Collection for iPad: Amazing Reading Experience of Historic Books

The British Library just release a freemium iPad app that provides access to more than 45,000 historical titles. It differs from other ebook readers by attempting to capture the physical visual qualities of the books including embossed covers, marbled paper, engraved illustrations maps and colored plates.

British Library offers e-classics app for iPad (Reuters)

British Library 19th Century Collection (iTunes App Store)

A $2.99 per month subscription is required for unlimited access to the full library. However, a limited free access account is available that provides access to 100 titles. Someone with a free account can still search the entire collection. The 100 books available with the free account includes two classic novels: Defoe’s “The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe” and Dickens’ “The Personal History of David Copperfield.” There are books from a vareity of categories including History of Travel, History of Social Sciences and Military History & Warfare.

There is a “Buy Print Copy” button at the top right of each page that provides the option to buy the physical book from Amazon.

The scanned images of book pages are amazingly sharp and readable. I wonder how these pages were scanned without damaging the aged books? It is a very interesting experience to simply look at the pages of Robinson Crusoe to see the paper texture and engraved drawings. As an exact replica of the printed page, all reading must be done in portrait mode. But, I did not find this to be a limitation. Anyone with a love for books will enjoy taking a look at this free app and its free 100 books.

And, while the app does not provide a way to share using Twitter or Facebook, readers can email links to the app and the book being read to a friend.